International LTE Galaxy S4s get first major software update, starting with unlocked German devices
The international LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-i9505) has started receiving its first substantial software upgrade today, with unlocked devices in Germany being among the first to get it. The update to version I9505XXUBMEA incorporates a number of visual changes, including a new, partially-transparent notification bar, new settings icons, and fix for ghosting issues in certain areas of the UI.
But the biggest addition for S4 owners might be reintroduction of apps-to-SD card support. First added in Android 2.2 Froyo and removed in the most recent 4.2 Jelly Bean, the ability to move apps to the SD card was originally a way to work around the anemic internal storage of older Android phones. The S4, of course, has been criticized for the fact that its 16GB version ships with only 9GB or so of available space. So the reintroduction of apps-to-SD might alleviate some of these storage issues, but you'll still be relying on app developers to enable apps-to-SD before you're able to use it.
(Update: We're also noticing significantly improved responsiveness and less animation lag in this new S4 firmware.)
German users with unlocked S4s should be able to pick up the update over-the-air or through Kies, and other regions should follow in the weeks ahead. (Of course, if you're feeling adventurous, you could always flash the German firmware directly.)
OTA starts rolling for the latest update previously only available with a manual install
Well then, here's a nice surprise. Our unlocked Xperia ZL (that's the C6506 model) has just received a 66.1MB OTA update touting improved battery life, user experience and software performance. The update is to version 10.1.1.A.1.253, which is the build that has been available for a couple of days (according to Sony) but only via its desktop companion software. After quickly downloading, the update will install with just one more tap and indicated that it will take "about 9 minutes" to update (which seems about right). You'll still be on Android 4.1.2 and likely won't see any other cosmetic changes from what we can tell.
We obviously haven't had enough time to evaluate whether or not Sony's claims of improved battery life and software performance are true, but we'll take any improvements they have for us. If you have an unlocked Xperia ZL, be sure to head into your settings menu and check for the update.
Small update with system enhancements, still based on Android 4.1.2
HTC One phones that were sold unlocked via HTC, including the developer editions, in the U.S.A. are getting a small over-the-air update today. As you can see it's a 17MB file containing "important enhancements and bug fixes". Without seeing the actual change log, we're going to guess this is an update you'll probably want to take.
When all said and done, you're at Software Number 1.29.1540.16, Android version 4.1.2 and HTC Sense 5.0. The usual warnings about root and custom recovery apply, so be sure to have that RUU handy, or wait for a flashable version.
Rollout starting in Asia via OTA or Kies, other markets to follow in due time
Samsung's mid-sized tablet offering from 2012, the Galaxy Tab 7.7, is seeing a Jelly Bean update start rolling out starting today in select markets. Users of the 3G version of the Tab 7.7 in Asia -- Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia so far -- have been updating their devices both OTA (Over The Air) and through the Samsung Kies desktop software to Android 4.1.2. There's no complete changelog for the update at this point as its rolling out slowly, but we all know the serious improvements in Jelly Bean such as Google Now and Project Butter will be on-board.
As for a timetable on the Verizon model of the Tab 7.7 receiving an update, we haven't got a clue. Additional time testing may put this one on the back burner for some time, especially considering the rollout has only started in one region at this point.
First update for T-Mobile Galaxy S4 going out over the air and through Kies
The first update for T-Mobile US's Samsung Galaxy S4 is pushing out today over the air and through Samsung's Kies desktop software.
The new software version M919UVUAMDL is a minor update containing "improvements to the visual voicemail app" and "ISIS app improvements," according to T-Mo's support pages. (ISIS being the NFC-based mobile wallet app backed by many U.S. operators.)
There's always a chance some other bug fixes or improvements have been sneaked in behind the scenes, so if you're rocking a T-Mo GS4 then hit the comments and let us know how you're getting on after today's update.
24MB over the air update rolling out now for Sprint's newest smart phone
If you were lucky enough to pick up a Sprint Galaxy S4 over the weekend, you'll want to start checking for a system update. Build L720VPUAMDL is pushing out, checking in at about 24MB. A scouring of the Internet doesn't seem to tell us anything about this update or what it addresses, so your guess is as good as ours. We assume it's a standard last-minute patch that we see with many new devices, and won't bring any new functionality or make any big changes.
In any case, you'll probably want it so be sure to check Settings > More > System Update to update the Samsung firmware.
Stability fixes, as well as Zoe, camera, Beats Audio and location service tweaks in first OTA
After a limited roll-out in some European countries this past week, the update to software version 1.29.401.12 is now live for unlocked HTC One users in the UK. The update includes stability improvements and bug fixes, in addition to tweaks to the location service, HTC Zoe, camera "parameter tuning" and Beats Audio.
Upon first inspection we're not noticing any significant differences between this and the previous 1.28 firmware, but we'll take HTC at its word that it's been busy on improvements throughout the firmware. The update weighs in at a substantial 229MB, suggesting an abundance of new stuff has made its way into the code base.
The firmware is still based on Android 4.1.2, so it looks like the HTC One will have to wait some more for its 4.2 update.
To grab the new firmware on your unlocked UK HTC One, simply head to Settings > About > Software updates and hit the button. As always, carrier-branded devices may have to wait a little longer for their update to start rolling out. Be sure to hit the comments if you've spotted any significant changes in the new firmware.