Just like that, Android 4.3 is out, ahead of its release date

In the same way that watched pots never boil, hotly anticipated Android versions often aren't released when we think they should be. However, turn your back for a second and bang suddenly Jelly Bean 4.3's all over the Internet.

It was a somewhat odd way for the new software to make its debut leaking quietly onto Google+ via a guy named Jeff Williams, who apparently bought a Nexus 4 running Android 4.3 on Craigslist from a Googler. (The comments on the post are worth a read.)

[MORE GOOGLE:Google Glass susceptible to poison-pill QR code]

Android Police has further details on Jeff's odyssey, which carried him from Google+ into an IRC chatroom on Freenode, where eager Android geeks talked him through the process of doing a system dump so that the software could be examined and passed around the Internet.

While Android 4.3 isn't all that exciting in and of itself Android Central says that most of the changes are on the back end it's nevertheless a pretty significant leak.

And it's even more significant, besides, since Google "coincidentally" has chosen to schedule a major Android event for this Wednesday in San Francisco. It seems likely that this will be the official roll-out though Google, as usual, isn't letting anything definitive slip for the new version of Jelly Bean, and could even see the company release the long-awaited Nexus 7 refresh. (The hardworking folks at Android Central come up big again, having apparently gotten their mitts on some pictures of the new tablet.)

*

The HTC One mini became official on Thursday, keeping most of the features of the full-size variant while getting a little bit more compact. The usual tradeoffs are there the screen isn't as high-res and the internal hardware has been dialed back but most of the functionality from the regular One is still present, including the new camera, speakers and, of course, the vaunted aluminum construction.

That's all well and good, of course, but it's also worth pointing out that the device isn't actually that much smaller than the original One according to CNET, it loses about a fifth of an inch from both its height and width. (The review also notes, however, that this still makes a substantial difference to how the One mini feels in the hand.)

A lot, of course, will depend on the One mini's cost, which was not announced. At $100 on-contract and below, I feel like it makes for a fairly compelling bargain. Much more than that, however, and it's tougher to see the value.

*

Sigh. Just when you thought the stories about Android malware were over, here they are again: A recent study from Juniper Networks says that 92% of all mobile malware targets Android devices, as of March 2013. That's up from less than 25% in 2010.

It's not really much of a surprise, of course Android has exploded in popularity since 2010, and the more loosely regulated app ecosystem (when compared to That Other Mobile Platform) has to be a tempting target for unscrupulous hackers.

Still, as long as you're careful about what you allow to be installed on your Android device hint: stick to the Play Store, for the most part you'll likely avoid most of the nasties out there.

*

The Android phone marketplace is crowded. Although I mostly discuss Samsung, HTC and Motorola in this piece, Sony and LG are making plays for greater market share, and there's a host of companies like Huawei, ZTE and Pantech also doing business in Android phones.

Now, according to a report from PhoneArena, none other than HP is looking to grab off its own hunk of the Android smartphone market, citing an anonymously-sourced render of an essentially hypothetical HP Android phone.

Let that sink in for a minute: HP Android phone. Woof.

HP exec Yam Sin Yu points out PhoneArena did indeed say earlier this month that HP needs a presence in the mobile space, so the timing of the leak "is awfully fascinating."

Personally, I would describe the timing as "highly suspicious" rather than "awfully fascinating," and given the anonymous source, complete lack of pricing, feature and availability info, and general flimsiness of the rumor, I can officially declare myself "totally unconvinced."

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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Jon Gold

Jon Gold

Network World
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