Google has released the source code for Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, along with factory images for the latest Nexus phones and tablets. And that means independent developers can start tweaking, modifying, and otherwise using the code.

It also means that new builds of popular custom ROMs are on the way. The CyanogenMod team has already announced it’s starting to work on CM 10.2, and the makers of Paranoid Android are also moving to Android 4.3.

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean user profiles

The transition should go pretty quickly, since Android 4.3 is a relatively minor update. It’s still part of the “Jelly Bean” branch, and for the most part the look and feel of Android hasn’t changed.

But Google’s latest operating system does bring a number of new features, including:

  • Support for OpenGL ES 3.0
  • SELinux security in the Linux kernel
  • Support for Bluetooth Low Energy
  • Dialpad auto-complete
  • DRM APIs that will let Netflix and other companies offer apps with 1080p HD video streaming
  • Fast user-switching on tablets with multi-user support
  • Restict access to apps and other content for some users on a per-users basis
  • Background WiFi location

There’s no word on when builds of CyanogenMod 10.2 or the next version of Paranoid Android will be released. They’re two of the most popular, and best-supported custom ROMs available for Android phones and tablets, so developers tend to like to take their time to get things right.

But now that the source code for Android 4.3 is available, I suspect it won’t be long before Google Nexus phones and tablets aren’t the only ones running it. Independent developers will likely start porting the software to run on some of the many other phones and tablets with unlocked bootloaders.

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