The Latest News about Kit Kat update for Fairphone 1
Updated irregulary - For FAQ scroll down
After a long process of weighing pro’s and cons here at Fairphone we have decided to stop the development of Android KitKat for the Fairphone 1. This project has been an ongoing effort from our internal team as well as key members of the community, and we’re disappointed that we are not able to see it through to the end.
We fully understand that for some of you this will be a major disappointment and many here at Fairphone share your feelings. We’d like to thank everyone for being part of this, asking us questions, submitting bugs and testing the alpha releases.
More info can be read here:
We have a source tree with Android 4.4.4 for Fairphone 1. Thanks a ton to @chrmhoffmann for his crucial help. There are some build issues that need solving before we can publish another pre-release image.
Software updates for Fairphone 1 owners
If you’re one of our pioneering Fairphone 1 owners, you’ve probably noticed that we still haven’t released an update to Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat. Many of you told us in the past months how you are really looking forward to this update and we fully understand the excitement around it. We’ve faced a lot of challenges while trying to get it ready for you, but we’ve decided that we won’t give up! Despite the delay, we’re going to keep working hard to provide this update (including the security update) for the Fairphone 1.
What’s taking so long?
We’ve been tackling this for quite some time and thought we were getting close to launch, but during the test phase, we identified two major issues: Bluetooth does not work reliably with all the devices, and the battery level also keeps dropping unexpectedly. We need to figure these issues out before releasing the update, because as it currently stands, we’re afraid we’d make your user experience worse instead of better.
In addition to delays caused by technical issues, our small team has been trying to divide our time between a range of other priorities, including the most recent update for the Fairphone 2. We realize that this is frustrating, but we have to be honest about what we can accomplish with the resources we have.
But even though we can’t share a release date with you yet, we wanted to make it clear that we’re still working on making Android 4.4.4 a reality.
What can I do in the meantime?
You can follow our progress on our forum in this dedicated thread and on the beta section of the forum where you can follow the progress in more detail. And if you’re tech savvy and willing to risk the murky waters of an unfinished and potentially unstable Alpha build, you’re welcome to try these updates.
Besides that, there’s not much to do but be patient. We’ll update you again as soon as Kit Kat is ready to use.
- The split of all git repositories is complete: Now we don’t work on one big source code repository but 407 separate ones.
- Out of these 407 repositories 296 have already been upgraded from 4.4.2 to 4.4.4.
- Unfortunately the previously mentioned fix for the battery problem has not completely solved the issue. Our next step is to compare battery life to other builds for Fairphone 1 and see where exactly behavior differs.
- A new test build will be released once 4.4.4 changes have been merged into all repositories.
- We are slowly migrating away from the Mediatek build system. Our first step was to split the one giant git repository into several repositories and using repo for managing them.
- That also means that we have moved all code into repositories based on AOSP which will make it easier to merge the upstream patches for 4.4.4
- There is some progress on the erratic battery consumption (also thanks to @sampumon)
- While moving repositories and splitting commits, I have also implemented the requested reboot option in the power menu and have deactivated the automatic conversion from SMS to MMS after three concatenated messages.
- Currently we are testing a new alpha build and might release it this or next week if no major blocker shows up.
This FAQ is based on the AMA done by @jftr. It will be regularly updated with the latest news about Fairphone 1 and the planned update to Android 4.4.4 (KitKat).
Ask your new questions below. All questions with more then 5 likes will be answered and added to this FAQ
When will the 4.4 update be released?
We can’t say at the moment. Last time we announced September. Obviously we failed to deliver on that and are very sorry about it. This time we do not want to give promises we might not be able to fulfill.
Why can’t you say when you will release 4.4?
Currently we are in the process of testing our new operating system. During these tests some problems showed up that we definitely want to iron out before releasing anything to all our Fairphone 1 users. Next to some smaller issues, the two major issues are that Bluetooth does not work reliably with all devices and that battery level is dropping unexpectedly.
This essentially means that we would worsen the user experience on Fairphone 1 devices. We first want to figure those out and release afterwards.
What are these issues that need to be ironed out and where can I follow their progress?
Will there be regular security updates for 4.4, once released?
Yes, the plan is to provide regular security updates as long as Google releases them for 4.4. As of now, this is still the case.We can only offer substantial security patches as long as they are provided by Google. As long as they keep coming, the largest hurdle will be to apply these patches to the Mediatek source with all its peculiarities.
Does Android 4.4 KitKat delivers general performance improvements?
Generally speaking, new versions of Android most often bring new features while trying to improve performance at the same time. This necessarily means that there is a trade-off if new versions of Android are ported to old hardware: We might see some performance improvements but they are most likely quickly diminished by new features and especially more demanding apps. One specific example that could at least improve battery life in Android KitKat is the low-power feature for audio playback. This might help squeezing out a little more battery life in some use cases. But don’t expect the difference to be big.
What are the issues with bluetooth devices?
Connecting to all kind of devices (headphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, etc) works. Unfortunately, the connection is not stable though. Sometimes it is dropped and FP1 does not reliably reconnect to the bluetooth device. It is one of the reasons we’ve not released the software yet.
With Android 4.4 will I still need XPosed and GravityBox?
The Android we release will be good enough for daily use, but we won’t be able to integrate all the features that XPosed offers. Whether you need to install XPosed depends on how much you want to customize the software on your Fairphone.
Can I use Titanium Backup for all my apps in the upgrading process?
The Fairphone 1 is rooted by default. That also enables Titanium Backup, so you can use that to make and restore backups.
Do you plan to forward port 4.4 to the Fairphone 2?
Directly porting 4.4 to Fairphone 2 is not possible. Adapting some of the interface to include features from FP1 is another story.