A Clarification of Why I Don’t List Certain Known Firmware Builds

At least once or twice a month, I get an email from someone asking me something to the effect of “Hey Bro. Great site, but why don’t you list firmware build X for this or that device? There are OTAs for it. Here are the links.”

One thing that I guess I haven’t made clear is that I don’t list every known OTA for Nexus, GPE, and Android Wear devices. I only list OTAs to and from firmware that was actually released to devices sold to the general public.

If there was a firmware build that only appeared on prerelease devices, or maybe a device handed out at Google I/O, I do not care about it insofar as this website is concerned. If you want a comprehensive list of all known “release-keys” firmware, check out the XDA Wiki.

I appreciate all the support I have received on this website for the last 3 years, and I hope this clarifies why I don’t list certain builds. I couldn’t have kept this such a definitive resource without the help of many in the Android enthusiast community. I’m looking forward to continuing this project and maintaining the level of quality that you have come to expect.

No, Verizon Is Not Delaying Your Nexus 7 LTE Update

Update: Google has now started rolling out Android 4.4.3 to the N7 LTE, but 4.4.4 is still MIA.

Yeah. I said it. I’m so sick of reading people who are talking about this. This is a matter of the Internet never letting the truth get in the way of a good story.

First off, the same razorg firmware runs on both the US and international LTE models. They are updated with the same ZIP files, even though one device supports an entirely different set of LTE bands than the other. The international version does NOT support Verizon. It is, frankly, ludicrous to assert that Verizon can delay an update for every single Nexus 7 LTE device everywhere in the world.

Second of all, you can’t even build Android 4.4.4 AOSP for that device right now. It’s not in the build menu and the branch for it has no compatible binaries. Even with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus (whose updates WERE subject to Verizon meddling), you were always able build AOSP when new versions dropped, even though there wasn’t an official OTA update. The fact that you can’t build Android 4.4.4 for the N7 LTE without some finagling tells me there’s something weird on the hardware side.

Third, Google has the capability to send out or delay OTA updates to any device with a particular SIM card. Google used to do this all the time with the Nexus S for Vodafone Australia users. They’d release an update worldwide, but withhold said update for Vodafone AU customers until they got carrier approval. They have also done this on the very device we are talking about in this article. Back in February, Google rolled out KVT49L for the N7 LTE, but only to devices with a Verizon SIM card installed. For anyone else, anywhere in the world, including US users on AT&T and T-Mobile, their devices remained on KOT49H.

This brings me to my last point. Since Verizon users are on their own unique build of Android 4.4.2, Google could very easily roll out an update for the worldwide KOT49H build while delaying an update for the Verizon-specific KVT49L build, pending carrier approval.

Until someone at Google or Verizon comes out and says that Verizon is to blame, I won’t believe it. There’s something else going on with the N7 LTE.

After the debacle that was the Galaxy Nexus, the idea that Verizon would be delaying an update for a worldwide unlocked Nexus device is a good story and makes for lively, ferocious conversation on the Internet, but it’s just not supported with evidence.

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Can We All Just Shut Up About the Google Experience Launcher?

One of the biggest topics of the last few weeks, since the launch of Android 4.4/KitKat, has been the fact that the new launcher, dubbed the Google Experience Launcher or GEL, is not being included on OTA updates for Nexus 4, 7, and 10, and is instead remaining an exclusive to the Nexus 5 for now. I have finally had enough of reading comment after comment from the Android enthusiast community about how they’ve been robbed and other miscellaneous nonsense.

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Android Reference Devices Through the Years

Since we are on the cusp of yet another Nexus device launch, I thought this would be a good time to show a list of the primary reference devices that Google has used to showcase stock Android in pure form. These devices have existed since the very beginning, even before the Nexus program. Each of these devices got updates directly from Google, and they were usually the only way to get stock Android.  OEMs have been skinning their versions of Android as long as Android has existed. Without further ado, here’s the reference:

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