Oct 31 AT 1:26 PM Dima Aryeh 23 Comments

Android 4.4 KitKat is official, sports new look and new features

Android 4.4 KitKat

The latest and greatest version of Android has now been officially announced, and it’s named after a candy bar. Android 4.4 KitKat is the next version of Android, soon to grace Nexus smartphones all over the world, and eventually other brands whenever they get around to updating their phones.

KitKat sports an updated aesthetic, getting rid of the Tron blue accents for all white icons in the status bar. Also, the status bar and navigation bar are both transparent on the homescreen. The Roboto font has been tweaked, and the launcher has been redesigned. Icons look different as well. It isn’t a huge change, but it refreshes the look of the operating system and keeps things fresh and modern. And if you don’t like it, remember that it’s Android. Just theme it!

A few apps were redesigned as well. The dialer now has smart searching capabilities, allowing you to find people or businesses without leaving the dialer. Also, the Messaging app is simply gone, replaced by a new version of Hangouts with SMS support built in.

Google Now is no longer an app to be opened with a swipe up, but with a left-to-right swipe on the homescreen. And instead of sending you to websites, Google Now will send you to the proper app to find the information you need. This is definitely an improvement, as mobile sites are pretty terrible way too often.

Google also managed to do some heavy optimizing for all different types of hardware. Since Jelly Bean and Project Butter, Android has been very smooth on high end phones, but low end phones always lacked smoothness. Google’s goal is to provide a smooth and fast experience for everyone, so Android will now run better on older hardware. It even optimizes memory usage for devices with less RAM.This could even allow phones that have reached the end of their life cycle to be updated, if the manufacturer is willing and the chip maker provides the necessary drivers.

This optimization not only helps the OS run on older hardware, but alternative hardware. KitKat can run on some weak hardware pretty well, so having it run on a smartwatch or other wearable accessory is now much more plausible. Is this Google preparing for a wearable device release?

There are a bunch of smaller but still important features included. You can now say “OK Google” at the homescreen to turn on Google Now. There is a new immersive mode which hides the status and navigation bars for true full screen content. The lockscreen now shows full screen album art when listening to music. Receiving phone calls from unknown numbers will pull info from Google Maps to match it to a business. And you can now print from Android. There are a ton of new features to be excited about!

The KitKat 4.4 update should be rolling out to Nexus devices soon, and unfortunately, other devices will have to wait. We have no idea when Samsung, HTC, and LG plan to update their smartphones to the new version of Android, but it shouldn’t be too long considering how fast HTC and Samsung have been lately. Are you excited for KitKat, or is it too small of an update for you? Leave a comment!

Source: The Verge

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things tech. He does photography, is an avid phone modder (who uses an AT&T Galaxy Note II), a heavy gamer (both PC and 360), and an aspiring home mechanic. He is also an avid fan of music, especially power metal.

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • Techrocket9

    I want to know when I can get it on my Nexus 7.

    • Broseph Stalin

      “In the following weeks.”

      What I want to know, is why they’re not bringing it to the Galaxy Nexus or even the Nexus S. Show those lower-end optimalizations!

      • Odie

        It’s like the article said, chip manufacturers may not want to supply the needed drivers so users can be encouraged to upgrade to a newer phone.

      • Shadowlore
    • Odie

      Probably within a week if past experience is any indication.

  • halo0

    “Google Now is no longer an app to be opened with a swipe up, but with a left-to-right swipe on the homescreen.”

    Hmm. How do we get to our other homescreens then?

    • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

      I thought the same thing. Perhaps multiple finger swipe? Or edge/bezel to edge/bezel?

      • halo0

        I don’t understand the problem with the swipe up from home. I like that! Seems like this will complicate things.

        • h0ruza

          It still does that

    • jamal adam

      From what I’ve read, you can still swipe up to open Google Now.

  • HennersL

    I doubt any older devices will suddenly see a 4.4 update in the future seeing as not even the Galaxy Nexus is getting KitKat as it is “outside the 18 month period” of when Google updates devices.

    • Karthikeyan

      Did they purposely delay android 4.4 launch so that by that time galaxy nexus will be outside 18 months?

      • Shame!

        I thinkthey just made up that eexcuse today. Very Angry about it. IPhone 6 in 2014 for me

        • Luv2NIL8

          Really? Apple will STILL be behind the curveā€¦ Don’t go to the Dark Side!

        • adam

          Me too. Not supporting a <2yo Nexus phone is ridiculous and insulting. I'm no fan boy of any brand/maker, just looking for best value for money which is why I initially went Android rather than iOS. But Apple's newest IOS7 is supported on the iphone4, which came out June, 2010. Iphone is ridiculously expensive, but a greater overall value over 3 years. I'm hoping that the iphone6 is of comparable screen size to my GNEX, which rumors suggest it will be. At that pont, goodbye Android. Unless… this Moto/phoneblocks thing pans out to be reasonably priced, and sold unlocked. There's a perfect case scenario to be able to switch out the processor to keep an otherwise perfectly acceptable piece of hardware going a little longer.

  • Donovan

    Omg I can’t wait!!

  • Matteo

    Important to note.. Kitkat not rolling out to All Nexus devices. Android disappoints by not pushing 4.4 to the Galaxy Nexus. So much for expanding availability. Can’t expect others to support it when Google itself doesn’t. Done

  • donger

    YES!

  • olen

    outside the 18 month update period for the gnex? come one google, really?

  • rhy o’drinnan

    Dick move leaving the gnex out in the cold. Google is always on the edge of doing the right thing and then failing. Also, does kit Kat lock or the NSA? Google is evil now. Never forget.

  • h0ruza

    It always baffles me how so many phone enthusiasts can follow the latest and greatest on tech blogs but at the same time hold on to old phones as if their life depended on it.

    Kit Kat may come to the S3 but I don’t expect it so guess what…..?
    I’m going to replace my two year old phone with a new one. Shock Horror!

    The Gnex was an ok phone but I got better photos and performance out of my S2 at the time.
    Google has gone out of its way twice to offer a top class phone at a cheap price so it would be rude not to buy the N5 surely.

    Lay the GNex to rest and come join us in the sun (With better photos).

    • kinderdm

      Thats right. Why would you possibly keep something older than a year and a half. What are you a caveman? Throw that piece right into the garbage and go out and spend your hard earned money on something that is only marginally better. I mean, whether something is still capable or not means nothing in todays consumer driven world. Its your duty to burn up any potential savings you might have just to make sure you have the top of the line that you likely will not even be using to its full potential. And never mind the fact that if your ancient (>1.5 years) phone were to be updated it would be almost every bit as capable as the newest on the market. What’s important here is that we throw more money at these multi-billion dollar companies who are just barely scraping bye. I mean, they have stock holders to feed after all.

      -Caution, Extreme Sarcasm.

  • Sameer