After nearly eight months of its release, Android KitKat is yet to become even half as popular as most of its predecessors. This clearly suggests that not all is well with the Android 4.4 platform, and its further updates. We here present some factors that have stood in the way of a faster adoption rate of KitKat.
An official report released by Google in March highlighted a slightly strange scenario. While Android Jelly Bean was still being used by nearly 65% of mobile-users, the adoption rate of version 4.4 (Android KitKat) had barely touched 2.5%. The popularity of Ice Cream Sandwich (v. 4.0) and even Gingerbread (v.2.3) remained way higher than that of KitKat. Given the excellent initial reviews the latter got from experts, there must surely be something wrong with its usability? Let us here pick out some common problems with Android Kitkat:
- Poor video-streaming properties – This is a problem that has been voiced particularly by owners of the latest Google Nexus handsets. Once the OTA update for KitKat is installed, the speed and/or video playback almost invariably go down. There have been reports that certain Kitkat-powered Nexus 7 devices even fail to render 60 fps videos. High-end Android phones should offer seamless video-streaming properties – and Jelly Bean is streets ahead of KitKat in this regard.
- Connection drops – Using KitKat on Moto G handsets has not been a pleasant experience for users. After thorough analysis, experts from several mobile app development companies found that the frequency of call/connection drops was unnaturally high on these phones. After being upgraded to KitKat, several handsets tend to automatically switch over to the Airplane mode. That adds to the inconvenience of users.
- Unstable wi-fi support – Reliability of wireless connectivity – a high point of the Android platform – has suffered after the arrival of KitKat. According to reports, the platform often aborts wi-fi networks, which adds to the overall consumption of carrier data. Many users who have recently upgraded to KitKat have been facing problems to connect with wi-fi networks at home too.
- Adverse effects on battery life – Smartphones in general, and Android devices in particular, do not offer long battery back-up. With Android KitKat though, battery reliability has hit an all-new low. People using KitKat on various phone models have registered complaints that, after charging, the device battery gets fully drained within as little as three hours! The time taken to recharge a handset has also become longer. Mobile app developers do suggest using Battery Calibration for getting a bit of extra battery juice – but wouldn’t it be better if Google found a way to get rid of this problem altogether?
- Does KitKat make devices slow? – It does, if the available evidences are anything to go by. Right from downloading a file and listening to music, to typing on virtual keypads – everything requires a ‘longer-than-average’ response time, on mobiles running on Android KitKat. Smartphones are meant to offer high-speed functionality to users – and people have not taken kindly to the troublesome screen lags of KitKat phones.
- Typing has become problematic – Even for long-time Android fans, this has come as a shocker. Installation of the KitKat mobile OS has become almost synonymous with bringing forth typing problems to a device. The virtual keypads become less accurate and appear cluttered – with the touch features being far from satisfactory. Composing even text messages or group chat messages often become troublesome, long-drawn affairs. Such issues never cropped up in Android Gingerbread or Jelly Bean.
- Non-compatibility with older apps – Another problem that has been most commonly noticed in Nexus 5 and 7 devices. After a person upgrades his/her phone, the existing apps on the device either become too slow, or require manual updates, or become prone to random crashes. Analysts from Android and iPhone app companies have confirmed that applications that use external microSD cards were the worst affected by the KitKat update. The file manager system is also made a lot more confusing by Android’s latest version.
- The heat factor – While there are users who have not faced this problem, most Android-users feel that installation of KitKat leads to devices getting heated up much quicker than usual. That, in turn, increases the chance of phone crashes, software problems, and other related issues. Even on Android 4.4.2, this problem has persisted. Smartphones do become warm with prolonged usage (long voice calls, for example) – and KitKat has apparently accelerated this issue.
- Lock screen problems – If you own a Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 (powered by KitKat), you have probably already faced lock screen troubles. The screen often freezes when users swipe to open the camera app, or activate home screen widgets. While adjusting the lock screen settings is an option to remove such problems, it would have been better if the screen and the phone dialer offered more user-friendliness in the first place.
- Presence of a camera bug? – Once again, an indication that Google Nexus and Android KitKat simply do not go well together. In fact, there have been reports that Google is working on a special software fix to iron out this camera bug. The malware tends to put extra burden on the phone’s battery resources – which, in any case, are not very strong. Let’s just hope Android Silver won’t have so many problems as the Nexus series of phones.
- KitKat makes home screen customization difficult – If you are trying to remove a widget or a mobile app from the home screen of a KitKat phone – be prepared for a bit of a struggle. You will be able to navigate to the ‘X Remove’ screen – after which there is every chance that the display will freeze. Better customization had been the key factor behind the edge that Android enjoys over iOS – but the arrival of KitKat has not strengthened this advantage at all.
Reports have also come in from Android-users all over that the KitKat platform messes up the default contact list syncing features of handsets. There have been cases where the speakerphone has become automatically activated on phones running on this version. There is a buzz about the Android 4.4.3 update which will soon be commercially available. If Google ensures that it would have none of the above problems, KitKat might finally be able to challenge the popularity of Jelly Bean. Till then, it will remain a mild disappointment!
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