Checking on Android Updates for Older Phones

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Android Updates

For Older Phones

Q. I have heard that the next version of Google's Android operating system will run on older phones that couldn't handle some of the newer updates. How can I find out if my handset can use the system?

A. Android 4.4 (also now known as KitKat, in keeping with the software's tradition of dessert-themed nicknames), is expected this month. On its Web site, android.com/kitkat, Google says, "It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody."

Still, check with your phone's manufacturer or wireless carrier for announcements about your particular model. And even if your phone is on the list for an official update from the manufacturer or carrier, it often takes longer for the software to become available after Google releases an update.

Many hardware makers have customized Android to work better on their own devices and have added their own features to it -- like custom interfaces or special apps -- so putting out a new version of the system often requires some extra time. And most do not bother to update software for models more than a few years old, partly because of outdated hardware and partly because of the desire to sell you a new phone. (Owners of Google's recent Nexus phones typically get the update quickly, as Google puts out its own straightforward version of Android.)

Some people have gone the unofficial route and modified their devices outside of the manufacturer's official guidelines. While this typically voids any warranty that may be left on the phone or tablet, it is one way to get newer software, and the Web has plenty of instructions for doing so.

Getting the Red Out

Q. Why does my camera flash twice?

A. Check your camera to see if it has a "red-eye reduction" setting -- and if that setting is enabled. Cameras with this feature rapidly fire the flash twice for each photo. The first flash illuminates the scene enough to cause the pupils in a person's eyes to contract a bit from the brightness. The second flash then goes off when the shutter snaps to capture the scene.

The red-eye situation happens when the bright light from the flash creates a reflection from the blood vessels in the back of the subject's eyes. Causing the pupils to contract right before the second flash fires helps reduce or eliminate the glowing red effect by letting less light into the eye. Because eye pupils are larger in darkened rooms, they allow in more light, so turning on a lamp or moving to a brighter room can also make for fewer pictures of people with a demonic gaze.

Even if you do end up with a few devil-eyed people in your photos, you can easily touch up the images with photo-editing software. Plenty of desktop and mobile photo-editing programs include a red-eye tool that looks for a range of bright red tones in a picture and converts them to a neutral black or dark gray.

TIP OF THE WEEK Ever spend a few moments coming up with the perfect Facebook status update -- only to notice after you hit the Post button that there is a spelling error or typo in the text? Facebook added the ability to make corrections in comments last year and recently extended the editing function to status updates as well.

To make corrections after posting in your desktop browser, click on the status update in question on your Facebook page and then click on the small gray menu icon in the top right corner. From the drop-down menu, select Edit. Once you have repaired your prose, click the Done Editing button to post the modified version on your Facebook timeline. J. D. BIERSDORFER

Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to QandA @nytimes.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times. First Published October 9, 2013 9:06 PM


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