Google just announced Android 4.4 KitKat today, and along with a laundry list of new features, the new software is said to be more efficient than ever and able to run on a variety of older or lower end hardware. But that doesn't mean that Google will be bringing it to its older Nexus devices: the company confirmed today that the Galaxy Nexus will not be getting upgraded to Android 4.4.
The Galaxy Nexus was released in the fall of 2011, making it just about two years old. Google's reasoning for not updating it is that it's just too old; the company is only committed to updating Nexus devices for 18 months after their release. Compare that to Apple, which offers the latest version of iOS on devices that may be up to three years old.
It's pretty evident that the Galaxy Nexus is more than capable of running the new software — its 1GB of RAM is double what Google says is the minimum for KitKat — so we're a bit disappointed to hear that Google is sticking to a hard and fast 18 month update rule. If Google continues to adhere to this, in just six months the Nexus 4 will be off the update track, even though its hardware is still pretty strong.
Google's Nexus program is designed to showcase the latest software innovations from the company, but it's still a service by which real people pay money for real devices. Those customers wouldn't be wrong to expect better than 18 months of software support on their devices, which cost multiple hundreds of dollars. Hopefully Google reconsiders its position, but given its statements today, we don't expect it to any time soon.
Update: Google also notes that the Galaxy Nexus uses a chip made by Texas Instruments — a company that's no longer actively developing smartphone chips. So it could be that trying to get everything in 4.4 working on that chipset would have been fairly burdensome.
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