It’s good news for Samsung Galaxy S4 owners, as the latest version of Google’s operating system, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean is being rolled out to handsets. It’s already arrived in Germany and other areas should get the update any time now.
It’s an over the air update, so you should be able to download it straight to your phone, though it’s also possible to install the update via Samsung Kies if you’d prefer. You’ll likely get a prompt when it’s available, but you can also head into the settings screen and check for yourself.
It’s well worth upgrading once you’re able as the update includes quite a few changes. The biggest change for Samsung fans is arguably the fact that it brings support for the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. So if you’ve been eyeing a Galaxy Gear it might now be worth a purchase as you’ll be able to link it to your Samsung Galaxy S4 and make full use of it, including being able to run apps, take pictures and receive calls, texts and emails all on your watch.
So far only the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 works with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, so opening it up to the tremendously popular Samsung Galaxy S4 will likely bring a lot more customers on board.
Aside from support for the Samsung Galaxy Gear the update also makes changes to Samsung’s TouchWiz interface and of course the Android OS itself.
Updates include ANT+ and OpenGL ES 3.0 support, the latter of which is the latest version of the industry standard for high performance graphics, which should make the Galaxy S4 an even more capable device than it already is.
Then there’s TRIM support, which should help prevent the Galaxy S4 from becoming sluggish over time by preventing data fragmentation. The update also improves RAM management for even smoother performance and Samsung’s TouchWiz launcher should have to redraw less often and experience less lag.
On the visual side the update should improve colour reproduction, making the display look sharper. Samsung’s default browser has seen a few improvements too, with a new tab interface and more. The update also includes a ‘reading mode’ which optimizes the display for reading, though it’s only used by a few applications.
Plus there’s new camera firmware and a few tweaks to the Contacts app, the Flashlight widget and dialogue boxes.
Samsung’s keyboard also gets tweaked in the update, while Samsung Wallet will be added to handsets that don’t already have it and a Samsung Knox application, which aims to improve the security of your handset, will be added.
The version of Android 4.3 coming to the Samsung Galaxy S4 lacks some of the features that the stock version of Android 4.3 has, such as virtual surround sound, but by the sounds of things Samsung has made up for that with updates of its own to improve TouchWiz and its apps.
Ultimately you won’t notice too many visual changes and there’s not much extra functionality added in the update either, but it should make the already powerful Samsung Galaxy S4 feel even faster and more powerful, which is an impressive feat in its own right.
Exactly when you’ll get the update will partially depend on which network you’re on, as sometimes networks make their own changes before rolling updates out to users, but every UK network should have it before long.
Android 4.3 only launched a few months ago and it debuted exclusively on Nexus devices, so for the Galaxy S4 to be getting it already is pretty fast work by Samsung. That said, Android 4.4 KitKat is likely to be launched on Nexus devices before the end of the month, so that will once again put the Galaxy S4 one update behind, while many other handsets are still stuck on Android 4.2 or even earlier versions.
While the update to Android 4.3 is well worth having, the Android 4.4 update looks set to be even bigger, but as it’s not even formally been announced yet there’s also no word on if or when the Samsung Galaxy S4 will receive it.
The only thing to be aware of with the update to Android 4.3 is that once you install the update there’s no going back to Android 4.2. Not that you’re likely to want to, unless it turns out to be unexpectedly buggy.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is already one of the best smartphones ever and this update looks set to make it even better.
- Related Reading: Android 4.3 - New features and improvements
- Related Reading: Android KitKat Rumour Roundup
- Related Reading: Samsung Galaxy Gear - Latest News and Features
By Kevin Thomas on 21st October, 2013