As we inch ever closer to the madness that is the holidays, I’ve been thinking that two Android smartphones deserve just a little more attention than the rest: the Nexus 5 and the Moto X. The former has a stellar spec sheet and access to frequent updates straight from Mountain View, but the latter makes do with a slightly older version of Android propped up by some awfully valuable software tweaks.
Except that isn’t really the case any more. Well, for some of them, anyway — Motorola has just announced on its blog certain Moto Xs out there will get the Android 4.4 KitKat update as soon as today. Are there caveats? You bet.
For now the update is going being pushed out to Verizon Wireless customers, so those of you who fell for the temporarily exclusive Moto Maker customization ploy at AT&T will have to wait in line. And as usual that update is being seeded to Verizon Moto Xs in waves so there’s little telling when your Verizon X will cheerfully notify you of the bounty waiting to be installed.
That carrier-induced delay is at once unsurprising and sort of a bummer, especially considering that Motorola has pledged to work with carriers to ensure on-time KitKat updates for its less-powerful (but arguably more important) Moto G. Still, this is pretty interesting territory that Google, Motorola, and Verizon are exploring. It used to be that software updates could be feature-complete and ostensibly ready to go before getting caught in a quagmire of carrier testing that drove some users crazy for weeks. Now the latest build of Android is ready to be pushed to the public less than a month after Google officially unveiled it at a curiously intimate event in California. Not even the Google-sanctioned Play Edition HTC One has managed to get its KitKat code in order — the build was submitted to Google yesterday but it’s unclear when it’ll go live for users to install.
These days it’s looking like the firewall that reportedly exists between Motorola and Google is much more porous than either organization let on. While may ultimately mean big things for consumers, I have to wonder how other faithful Android OEMs will take this.