Google releases KitKat 4.4.1 with big camera fixes for Nexus 5

Google releases KitKat 4.4.1 with big camera fixes for Nexus 5

Summary: The latest update for the Android KitKat OS introduces new features for the Nexus 5 camera, addressing one of the main criticisms of the handset.

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TOPICS: Android, Google
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Many Android owners are still waiting for KitKat to arrive on their phones, but Google has started rolling out a new version of the OS, Android 4.4.1, to the Nexus 5 and other Nexus devices.

Although 4.4.1 has been available for three Nexus devices since yesterday, the Nexus 5 appears to be the main beneficiary of the update, which brings a more responsive camera to the Nexus 5.

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"It improves the camera with faster focusing, especially in low light, faster white balancing, for truer colours, the ability to pinch-zoom the viewfinder in HDR+ mode and less shutter lag," Google announced on Thursday.

The Nexus 5 has received glowing reviews, but the camera failed to impress, with ZDNet reviewers finding it was slow to focus and required good lighting to take decent photos, despite its HDR+ feature. 

As Google explains, the Nexus 5's HDR+ feature is meant to help take better pictures in poor lighting or large contrast conditions by taking a burst of shots and melding them together. The update should improve HDR+ and other features of the camera, according to Google.

The company doesn't mention the update being available for other Nexus devices, however Android specialist site Android Central has posted links to Google servers hosting the update for the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 (2013, LTE version).

Though many Android OEMs are still only getting around to rolling out Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, KitKat has seen an impressive rise in its share of Android versions on devices, hitting 1.1 percent of all active Android devices within one month of its October 31 release.

The new OS shipped with the Nexus 5 and has so far been rolled out to Google's Nexus phones and tablets, the Google Play Editions of Samsung's Galaxy S4 and HTC's One, and the Moto X in the US.

Further reading about Android KitKat

Topics: Android, Google

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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8 comments
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  • Google accounts for the Nexus between hardware and software

    Comparisons of hardware at the time they are first purchased can be very misleading. Better compression algorithms and ways to redistribute computational tasks from devices and put them on server farms are coming soon. Higher quality ways (raw) to transmit and process photographs could become standard as network speeds increase.
    jnffarrell
  • Beware the Google Nexus line of products

    Beware the Google Nexus line of products

    Google initially claimed that the Nexus line of products would be the Android devices "first to receive updates". Yet, just two years after the Google Galaxy Nexus phone (by Samsung) was released, Google has stopped support for Android updates. Worse, Google has posted that they will only support updates on Google Nexus devices for 18 months (check the website yourself - https://support.google.com/nexus/answer/3507867?hl=en&ref_topic=3415518)

    There are thousands of frustrated and isolated Nexus owners that have bought into the Google ecosystem. Now the Nexus phone is obsolete. Read more here - http://www.change.org/petitions/google-update-the-galaxy-nexus-with-android-4-4-kitkat

    Shame on Google. And prospective buyers of Google products should take heed.
    duckdive@...
    • lol

      At the speed technology moves I'm neither surprised or upset that they drop support after 2 years. If you want kitkat that badly root your phone and flash.
      Caleb Wessels
    • @duckdive this is the same comment I've seen recently

      This is likely an automated comment by Microsoft. I've owned 3 nexuses and the nexus 5 is the best yet
      deathjazz
  • Lousy photos

    Nexus phones aren't the only android devices suffering from lousy photos.

    I'm a professional photog. This summer, I traveled with a friend and backed up photos from his older iPhone daily. Later, I inadvertently opened one of his pics to enlarge thinking it was one of mine. I carefully examined photo for resolution, detail, lighting, etc, etc. I was dumbfounded when I realized that his iPhone image, unretouched was BETTER than the unretouched image from my thousands of dollars' worth of gear. (In the end, and after RAW adjustments and PhotoShop, my image still kicked his image's a**. ;-) )

    His iPhone camera tech specs are no better than my Droid Razr Maxx, so...

    HEY GOOGLE: 'twould be nice (read that ABOUT @*! TIME!) if Android's camera app could be updated for all of us. Your software is causing crappy images from otherwise perfectly good hardware, even after MANY Android OS revisions. Apple got it right ages ago. Maybe you should hire them to consult.
    hbwilson
    • professional?

      That is saying a lot about your photography skills. If you depends on Photoshop to enhance your photographs to an acceptable level, I'd hate to see what the untouched pictures from your camera look like!

      A phone camera with its tiny lens and aperture and sensor can generate usable pictures, but please don't compare then to photos taken by "professionals" with good equipment.

      A phone camera and software can provide usable pictures, and has its uses, but please don't compare them to professional photographs)
      dd15
  • nexus 5 review

    Yeah i bought this phone.Nexus 5 is a awesome phone.I like the interface and speed.You can also view my blog..

    http://techismyzone.com/apple-vs-google-war/
    Ashutosh1993
  • professional

    I'm of the opinion that a smartphone shouldn't be used to do anything to a professional level.

    This includes the camera, but can equally apply to the other apps.

    Google Navigation > Rally car navigator
    Spirit level > Skyscraper construction
    Barcode scanner > Supermarket checkout
    Flashlight > Lighthouse keeper
    GPS Speedometer > Land speed record attempts

    etc

    Duckdive, sounds like this article actually reinforces Google's statement about Nexus devices receiving updates first. If they also said these updates would be received indefinitely by all Nexus devices from here unto eternity then maybe you have a point.

    The Nexus 5 was an upgrade for me from an HTC Desire - a 3-year old phone that had been running Froyo for 2.5 years and CM7 for 6 months. At no point did I feel the phone needed Android 2.3, 3.0 or 4.x. Any App I decided I needed was available, they all ran ok. In the end I tried CM7 with a class 10 SDCard to increase App storage space (a phone hardware limitation) which worked ok but made Apps load slower and generally behave a little more iffy.
    My dad now has the phone and if it's not too small for him I expect it to serve him for a year or so more. I also don't expect him to worry, care or notice that it is using Android 2.3.
    Mytheroo