New in Android 4.3

Android 4.3 has been teasing us for the last several months. We originally thought this build may be the mythical “Key Lime Pie” release, but as we’ve gotten more information, it looks like it’s just “another flavor of Jelly Bean”. Finally we’re starting to see leaks, and in those leaks we’re beginning to get a picture of what’s included in the next version of Android. A few builds have surfaced for the Nexus 4, and we’ve managed to get our hands on a couple. Watch as we go hands-on with the Nexus 4 and see what’s new in Android 4.3.

1. Auto-complete in the Dialer

These are, after all, smartphones, so it makes sense that some of the improvements in Android 4.3 include updates to the dialer app. Specifically, using the stock dialer now saves you time dialing a contact by enabling auto-complete in the dialer itself.

Android Dialer
Auto-complete, at last!

Some of you are saying to yourself “What are you talking about, Joe? I’ve had that for a long time!” You’re right, some devices have, but that’s thanks to enhancements from your OEM or carrier. Up until this build, the feature hasn’t been included in the stock version of Android.

2. New Emoji Keyboard

If you find yourself doing a lot of texting you might be happy to learn that Google may well be including a new Emoji keyboard in Android 4.3. To get to it from the messaging app, simply long-press on the space bar and select the Emoji keyboard. From there you’ll see all kinds of new emoticons so you can spruce up your messages.

Look at all those emoticons!

Whether or not these Emoji will successfully make it to regular SMS users, rather than fellow Android 4.3 users, is something that you’ll have to test after the new version hits your device.

3. Bluetooth 4.0 LE

The Nexus 4 has had everything it needs for Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy since it was released — everything except the software. Stock Android has been limited to Bluetooth 3 for quite a long time. The new version of Bluetooth, in addition to being compatible with even more devices, uses very little power when paired with BT4 compatible devices — like my Pebble smartwatch.

I wasn’t able to confirm whether or not Bluetooth 4.0 is actually in the Android 4.3 build, but based on the Bluetooth SIG leaks combined with the long life I’m getting on both my Pebble and my smartphone, I suspect it made it in.

4. Improvements in the Camera App

The Android 4.2 camera wasn’t bad. It included a new way to get to the settings that wasn’t easy to use (your fingers covered the items that you were trying to select, so you didn’t know if you were selecting the right thing or not). The camera in Android 4.3 fine-tunes the way the previous version worked by placing the items in an arc with the selected item clearly called out above your finger.

Also, rotating the device from portrait to landscape and back while in camera mode is now almost instantaneous.

5. Better Performance

The Nexus 4 running Android 4.3 seemed a lot more responsive and overall more “snappy” when compared to the same device running Android 4.2. Synthetic benchmarks showed a marked improvement as well.

6. Significantly Improved Battery Life

Last, but certainly not least, is a huge improvement in battery life. On Android 4.2 I can typically expect 4-6 hours of use before I need to recharge. As a reminder, I use my phones quite a bit more than the average user, so my battery life is expectedly lower than what most should expect to get. On Android 4.3, without changing my usage habits, I was surprised to see the phone last all day, all evening, and still had charge enough to get me to work the next morning. I was able to eek out 25+ hours and still had 1% battery life remaining. That’s impressive!


This was a leaked version of a ROM that was tweaked to turn it into a flashable .zip. It’s probably not going to be exactly what we see when Android 4.3 comes out — which we hope will be in the next few days. That having been said, I certainly hope we get everything that I covered here (and more) once Android 4.3 starts rolling out OTA.

What about you? Have you played with a leaked version of Android 4.3? Were your experiences similar to mine? Did I miss anything important? As always, let us know down in the comments!

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