What's New in Android 4.3by Brian Klug on July 24, 2013 2:26 PM EST
- Posted in
- Android 4.3
As expected, today Google made a management release for Android 4.2 official at their breakfast with Sundar event, bumping the release up to Android 4.3 and introducing a bunch of new features and fixes. The update brings everything that Google alluded was coming during Google I/O, and a few more.
On the graphics side, the big change is inclusion of support for OpenGL ES 3.0 in Android 4.3. Put another way, Android 4.3 now includes the necessary API bindings both in the NDK and Java for ES 3.0. This release brings the numerous updates we’ve been over before, including multiple render targets, occlusion queries, instances, ETC2 as the standard texture compression, a GLSL ES 3.0, and more.
We’ve also talked about the changes to the 2D rendering pipeline which improve performance throughout Android, specifically intelligent reordering, and merging, which cuts down on the number of draw calls issued to the GPU for 2D scenes. This improvement automatically happens with Android 4.3 and doesn’t require developer intervention, the pipeline is more intelligent now and optimizes the order things are drawn and groups together similar elements into a single draw call instead of multiple. In addition like we talked about, non-rectangular clips have hardware acceleration, and there’s more multithreading in the 2D rendering pipeline.
Google has been trying to increase adoption of WebM and along those lines Android 4.3 now includes VP8 encoder support for Stagefright. The platform APIs are updated accordingly for the ability to change settings like bitrate, framerate, and so forth. New DRM modules are now added as well, for use with MPEG DASH through a new MediaDRM API.
On the connectivity side we get a few new features, first is the WiFi scan mode which we saw leaked in a bunch of different ROMs. This exposes itself as a new option under the Advanced menu under WiFi settings, and during initial out of box setup. This new scanning mode allows Google to continue to further build out its WiFi AP location database to improve WiFi-augmented location services for its devices.
Like we saw hinted not so subtly at Google I/O, 4.3 also includes support for Bluetooth low energy (rebranded Bluetooth smart) through the new Broadcom-sourced Bluetooth stack. This OS-level support for BT Smart APIs will do a lot to ease the API fragmentation third party OEMs have resorted to in its absence.
Likewise Bluetooth AVRCP 1.3 is now included which supports better metadata communication for car audio and other devices, as well as better remote control.
Security gets improvements as well, Android 4.3 moves to SELinux MAC (mandatory access control) in the linux kernel. The 4.3 release runs SELinux in permissive mode which logs policy violations but doesn’t break anything at present.
A number of other security features are changed, including fixes for vulnerabilities disclosed to partners, better application key protection, removal of setuid programs from /system, and the ability to restrict access to certain capabilities per-application. Lastly there’s a new user profiles feature that allows for finer grained control over app usage and content.
We'll be playing around with the new features on the new Nexus 7 as well as the other Nexus devices getting the update (Nexus 4, Nexus 10, Nexus 7 (2012), and Galaxy Nexus). Google has already posted the factory images for those devices as well if you're too impatient to wait for the OTA and want to flash it manually.
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dishayu - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkI think this is the first underwhelming Android release. Support for OpenGL ES 3.0 is probably the only thing that I find even remotely exciting. Haven't used bluetooth since 2010, don't want to waste battery with wifi scan thingy, don't want everything DRM-ed and I don't let people touch my phone, so no use for user profiles as well.
I'm sure there's someone out there who may have a use case for all of those things, but personally, I am very much underwhelmed given that Google took a whole year to come up with this android upgrade.
sweenish - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkNot a year. 8 (9?) months. Nearly a year, I guess.
I'm excited, as I hope to see my toro get a second life. While I enjoy 4.2.2, I can't deny that it turned my phone into a bit of a dog. This release looks to turn that around a bit.
sherlockwing - Thursday, July 25, 2013 - linkGiven 4.2.2 came out in Feburary, it only took Google 5 month.
bengildenstein - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkI agree. I was really hoping for some news on Renderscript (at the very least) as the project seems to be mostly stagnant with inadequate amounts of documentation.
Hopefully some of the bugs in 4.2 have been ironed out, and performance tuned appropriately.
gobaers - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkLet's not call it before it's analyzed. If 4.3 has substantial optimizations and/or improved battery life, it will be everything I was hoping for, from this release. I can wait for the new bells and whistles.
Krysto - Thursday, July 25, 2013 - linkIt's actually a bit more than I expected. I like all the extra security stuff.
purerice - Sunday, July 28, 2013 - linkExtra security stuff... designed by the NSA? Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Other than that, I am glad they are sticking to minor numerical numbers (4.2 -> 4.3) unlike Chrome browser. Otherwise we'd be on Android 38 Mint Julep today and next week we'd have Android 39 Mojito.
web2dot0 - Monday, July 29, 2013 - linkThis is a crap release. Nothing changed. At least they didn't make a big fuss about it ....
bobbozzo - Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - linkUser profiles would be more useful on tablets than on phones, and I'm very glad to see it's coming.
Mikuni - Thursday, July 25, 2013 - linkActually I think profiles on phones are very useful, I don't fancy lending my phone to a friend or familar to play some game and have them look at my sms and stuff..