It's almost a month since Google announced Android 4.3. the announcement may have gone largely ignored in Kenya, and East Africa in general where most smartphones sold run Android version 2.3 Gingerbread.
A growing number of mid-end smartphones including the Intel Yolo and others run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, while a few devices do run Android 4.2.1 , which brings them to Android's latest major version, JellyBean. However, only high end smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Samsung Galaxy Mega and the Sony Xperia Z run Android 4.2.2.
The Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4,the Xperia Z and perhaps the Galaxy Mega remain among the few phones sold in East Africa that get upgrades to android 4.3 JellyBean. Most other manufacturers are looking to upsell you, that is, see you purchase a new handset in order to get a newer version of Android. You either have to buy a new phone model, or the most expensive model a manufacturer sells to get newer Android versions. The other alternative is to purchase devices sold by Google under the Nexus brand, which are available in 12 countries, none of them in Africa.
So, what's in Android 4.3?
The most noticeable feature in Android 4.3 for the region is the inclusion of Kiswahili as a supported language. This means that in addition to English, you can now also use Kiswahili as a choice language on your phone, including typing through your phone's keyboard.
Other features include support for Bluetooth Smart and also ability to display song names on your car's radio through bluetooth. Bluetooth Smart is a technology that uses much less power when you are on bluetooth.
Android 4.3 also comes with better graphics, which should be of great help to game players. Other features are better support for multiple profiles on tablets, meaning that more than one user can better share, login and logout of the tablet.
While a number of users reported vastly improved battery life with Android 4.3, others are reporting reduced battery life. Some users also reported issues including failure to reconnect to a WiFi network when the signal drops due to poor connectivity.
Dennis Mbuvi has been writing at CIO East Africa Magazine and CIO.co.ke since May 2010. His key focus is the use of technology to solve day to day business challenges and product reviews. Mbuvi has been invited to speak at various IT, Telecom and Media events in the region. He was also a keynote speaker at the inaugural Joomla day in Kenya talking on possibilities of the Joomla Content Management System. Mbuvi holds a B.Sc in Computer Science degree from Kenyatta University. He is on Twitter as @denniskioko