31
Oct
kk-android-44

Well ladies and gents, the day is finally here. It's been a long road full of leaks and teasers, but the Nexus 5 is now available for sale and Google has released full details about KitKat. It looks like this is going to be the best version of Android to date (as if you expected anything less), and there's a lot to talk about. Let's dig in.

Interface and Google Now

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We've seen dozens of leaked screenshots and images that show off KitKat's new transparent navigation and status bars and white icons, so it shouldn't come as a shocker to see them as part of the finalized version of the OS. It turns out that there's also a new API that allows apps to request this transparent look, so as more apps start to adopt the feature, KitKat will start to have a more unified look throughout the entire user experience. Pretty.

Certain apps will also be able to take full control of the screen – no more status bar, no more navigation bar. Just a full screen experience with your favorite book, game, or movie. A quick swipe from the edge of the screen will bring all the controls back into sight.

Speaking of movies (and other forms of entertainment), the screen will now be taken over by movie or album art when streaming to Chromecast and the device is locked. Naturally, all controls will still be accessible from within that screen.

Google Now is also going on the receiving end of some changes, mostly in accessibility. On the Nexus 5, Google Now will be in sort of a passive listening mode – you need only speak "OK Google" to get started with a search or other command, as long as you're on the homescreen.

Performance, Printing, and the Cloud

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One of the big things that Google clearly focused on with KitKat was performance, especially in low-end devices. According to the Android Developers site, "Android 4.4 is designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before — including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512MB RAM" – that's massive. The core system processes are now much more aggressive in memory management, which should prevent apps from using large amounts of RAM. The end result? A much smoother experience for lower-end devices.

Of course, improved performance isn't just for low-end devices – Google is touting "faster multitasking" for all devices. Not only is memory optimized in 4.4, but the touchscreen supposedly responds "faster and more accurately than ever before." So basically, you'll be able to do more things at once and switch between applications almost instantly.

Just as ICS brought forth native screenshots, KitKat will bring native screen recording (!!). Finally, the need for root and [sometimes janky] third-party applications will be no more – recording what's happening on the screen will just be part of the system. That's going to make my job a lot easier. Thanks, Google!

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As previously rumored, cloud printing will now be an official part of Android with 4.4. If you have a printer connected to Google Cloud Print, then you're basically ready to go. You'll be able to push any document, picture, or web page to the printer directly from a phone or tablet.

That's not the only cloud service that's get enhanced in KitKat – apps like Quickoffice will be able to open and save files not only in Google Drive, but also other cloud services, like Box or Dropbox. That's convenient.

Phone and Messaging

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Since smartphones are still actual phones, the dialer is getting smarter. With KitKat, when a number not in your contacts calls you, the phone will automatically check the number against local listings using Google Maps. If it's a local business, then you'll know it. The dialer will also prioritize contacts that you talk to the most, so getting in touch with those closest to you is quick and easy. That's really sweet, Google. <3

As we've already seen, Hangouts now takes the place of the default messaging app, so "all your messages [are] in the same place." It appears that SMS and Hangout messages will both appear in-line with each other, so conversations will always flow as they are supposed to, regardless of the medium in which you're talking to the other person on. And of course, you'll also be able to share your location and animated GIFs through Hangouts, too. Because staying away from GIFs isn't something our internet overlords will allow. Ever.

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Oh, and get ready for Emoji. So much Emoji. You've been warned.

NFC, Bluetooth, and IR Blasters

So tap-to-pay in Google Wallet never really took off, mostly because carriers were about as helpful as herpes when it came to allowing its use on their networks. Basically, everyone aside from Sprint (in the US, that is), wouldn't let Google control the secure element, which is required to make NFC payments. With KitKat, however, Google bypasses the need to control the secure element and handles everything virtually. What does that mean? It's means you'll be able to use Wallet (and NFC in general) in more places, carriers be damned.

Bluetooth will also see lots of new features in KitKat, including two new profiles: HID over GATT, which provides a "low-latency link with low-power devices such as mice, joysticks, and keyboards;" and Bluetooth MAP, which "apps exchange messages with a nearby device." In addition to that, users will also be able to "set absolute volume on the system from their Bluetooth devices" thanks to an extension to Bluetooth AVRCP 1.3. So really, all that just means Bluetooth is getting better and more useful. Those are both things I like.

While we're talking about wireless radios and such, let's talk about IR Blasters. As most of you know, both the GS4 and HTC One have IR Blasters, but both were basically useless in the Google Play edition device because stock Android didn't have support for the hardware. Well, now it does. Time to start channel surfing while you're web surface. All from your phone.

Of course, there's so much more

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This is really just some of the key things to expect in KitKat – there are a lot more low-level developer things going on behind the scenes that we haven't even touched on yet (if you're interested in those, you can find full details here). So far, this seems like the biggest Android release since Ice Cream Sandwich, and easily surpasses all three versions of Jelly Bean combined in the features department. Google has clearly been hard at work on this one... now we just have to play the waiting game a bit longer to get it in our hands.

Android KitKat

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Santeri

    I kinda feel sad that Holo blue is being left behind :( Farewell...

    • Tills13

      Good riddance. It was nice back in 2010, but it's kinda gross now. Holo Light is gorgeous.

      • Kieron Quinn

        Holo Light (with dark action bar) has really grown on me, I used to prefer dark, but I like light now

        • mikeym0p

          I used to avoid it because AMOLED, but the white looks so much cleaner so I'm glad i"m on lcd

        • shadowdude777

          I guess once you go black, you do go back after all.

      • Santeri

        Nothing wrong with Holo Light. It is just that Blue seemed to fit me better personally. Either way, I'm not complaining. That's where custom ROMs come in, right? :)

      • David Hart

        I've convinced myself that Holo white is better because of black text on white bg. There's very few mainstream apps, or websites that use white text on a black bg.

        It really is more natural this way, but I would like to see a system wide switch to flip from one scheme to the other.

    • Michael Fontenot

      I'm going to skin it blue again. I love the blue it really gave stock android a unique feel. Heck even my softkeys are blue on my nexus 4.

      • RitishOemraw

        post a ss please, want to see what that looks like

        • Michael Fontenot

          There you go.

          • RitishOemraw

            Thanks

          • Frank Lopez

            I am sorry but that is horrible looking. There is no consistence , no harmony. Thank god google is doing away with the black/blue scheme. It actually made android look outdated and cheap.

          • Michael Fontenot

            So you prefer this? It's so boring.

          • Davis Hernandez

            its not the color of the keys what its wrong, its the greenish wallpaper what its wrong, if you use one of the default wallpapers with the white theme you will notice the difference

          • simp1istic

            To be fair, most of the horrible part is his background.

          • Santeri

            That is just tight! Nice!

          • Walkop

            Which is why Google is so awesome; everyone can use whatever they want!

          • Santeri

            Exactly.

          • ari_free

            Though it wouldn't hurt to brush up on color theory :)

          • ari_free

            Thanks for killing my eyes

  • Lastb0isct

    Does the Nexus 5 have an IR Blaster?

    • Jeff718

      No, it does not.

    • http://androiddissected.com/ Nick Schiwy

      No. Kit Kat just adds native support so devices like the GS4 Google Play Edition and the HTC One Google Play Edition can take advantage of the hardware.

  • Jake Vogel

    Any clue why they wouldn't just go with Android 5.0?

    • Thomas Lovett

      Why does it matter? They're just numbers. It's probably for major UI changes.

      • Jake Vogel

        I don't think the number necessarily matters. Just that initially the updates/changes seem quite substantial. Also releasing Android 5.0 KitKat on the Nexus 5 on Halloween sounds a little better to me.

        • Jesse Cohen

          Good point, but full number changes are historically for UI overhauls like Honeycomb and ICS. The name change is for a significant update that doesn't update the UI too much... at least that's my theory.

    • Trent Callahan

      I was kinda disappointed too, however, the slim UI changes made and the zRAM compressment really makes me happy! Now if OEMs would be blessed with generosity and update all those 512 MB+ devices...

      • usaff22

        HTC should update the One S which it promised an update and failed to deliver over 2 months ago. Never again. Waiting for the Nexus 5 2014 and will buy it on launch day, after that Nexus all the way.

    • Chad D

      Kit Kat bars have 4 parts....

      • tokuiten

        I was thinking that you break it in half and have two equal parts...

    • firesoul453

      Build your own rom and call it android 5.0 ;)

  • TheWrestlingGuyWithAGaiPenis

    Will the Nexus 7 4.4 UI would look the same as the Nexus 5?

    • Kieron Quinn

      Will do, the SDK does

    • htowngtr

      I would imagine so

  • Glenn

    I know it's all very fresh, but does it look like there'll be a way to screen record from within the phone, without ADB? Whether it's stock from Google or an app using those tools. I'm leaning towards no?

    • https://plus.google.com/116879163037230501137/posts Cullen Maglothin

      Yes, go look at the changes. There is a way to enable it from within the phone, not just with adb push commands.

  • Yash Raj Chhabra

    why is no one showing the notification bar ????has it even changed ??

    • Charlie Val

      or Quick Settings.

      • Kieron Quinn

        I can't access quick settings on the SDK image, but the drawer is the same

        • Yash Raj Chhabra

          thanks!! any other changes you spotted on the SDK image ?

          • Kieron Quinn

            Other than what's been announced, nothing, but it's very limited (no gapps so no Camera, Gallery, SMS (Hangouts), Emoji, Google Experience)

    • Michael J Carroll

      All I know so far is, for the homescreen, the clear notification bar and system buttons are only meant for the N5 right now. However, I have heard that other apps can choose to do this, also, so maybe what they're saying is that the stock launcher on the N5 can do it while other stock launchers cannot until they are updated. Same thing goes with this awesome new HDR+ mode they talked about... :( Here's to rooting/flashing my N4!

  • Trent Callahan

    Time for Apple to release native screen recording in an update and call it revolutionary! Quick, mobilize, steal, and re-brand fast!

  • Tom Drummond

    Ok Google..... When's my Nexus 5 arriving? :)

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    What does it look like on a tablet?

    • Kieron Quinn

      Just like the phone one but scaled up, as with 4.3

  • Garrett Bridges

    Ok, my question is, it's been like 2 hours already. Why can I not flash this to my S4 yet!? Lazy devs.

    • Mike Reid

      NO ETA FOR YOU !

      lol. ;)

  • Gsizzle

    Can't wait to use Android 4.4 on my current N4 and then later on my new N5.

    Xmas came early :D

  • Trent Callahan

    Thank you for this Google. Really nice user friendly and smooth.

    • Albin Hermansson

      Haha that's actually hilarious!

      • Jesse Cohen

        What?

        • gmaninvan

          He is making a crack at the whole BBM fiasco

        • Cerberus_tm

          It is a variation on the positive reviews Backberry bought for their messenger in the Play Store. People started posting comments on the corresponding article Android Police that resembled those fake reviews.

          • shonangreg

            It's the new "All your bases are belong to us", methinks. Blackberry is never going to live down its problem-plagued launch.

    • http://GPlus.to/Abhisshack Abhisshack

      Ahahahaha Not Again ;-) :P

  • David Fleck

    How in the world is this not 5.0? Hard to believe this is just a .1 bump.

    • Andy Stetson

      Probably ONLY because of the kitkat cross promotion.

    • htowngtr

      I would imagine 5.0, the "real" KLP, will be out in June at IO.

      • Jesse Cohen

        I predict the next full-number update will make system settings, the notification drawer, quick settings, and other things holo light with cards and the slide-out menu. Just to unify. And also make the transparency thing (like the status bar) more omnipresent as well

    • whrnato

      Coz its google..not apple..apple woulve bumped 2 yearly updates if they were in google's place XD

  • br_hermon

    While the whole "4.4 on devices with 512mb RAM" is really good, that's only half the battle. Just ask Gnex owners. The Galaxy Nexus isn't getting the 4.4 update supposedly because of it having an older CPU. RAM is only half the battle here folks. If you're device uses an older CPU or more obscure make, you're still screwed.

    Or did I miss something?

    • Kieron Quinn

      The official reason the Gnex isn't getting it is because it's out of its 18 months, but I can see the CPU issue
      Maybe it's due to OMAP and not its speed?

      • rgl168

        Then Google should come out and say so. They are currently using the 18-month excuse while they claim Kitkat is optimized to run well on 512MB devices.

        • Ygor Vaz

          As much as this "18 months policy" sucks bad (since the gnexus does have the potential to go to 4.4), I hope that the other excuse about "a company that provided the drivers for an important chip in the gnexus is not the working on this anymore" is just this: an excuse. Because if it's just an excuse, we can expect fully working roms of 4.4 without major problems pretty soon, whether if it's really a true thing then it can be a major problem for devs :( (for gnexus)

          • ari_free

            Texas Instruments made that chip and they've been wiped off

    • Tomcio

      Well, I am running 4.3 on Samsung Fascinate so I don't think CPU would be the problem here. Unless my fascinate got stronger all of sudden that is

    • Jesse Cohen

      Just wait untill custom roms roll in.

  • Andy Stetson

    They're running InvertedHoloBlackout... It's supposed to be white on black, not black on white!! ;)

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    I'd really love to see the new redesigned Email app. Since I use Exchange for work, I've really been feeling the old age of the current one. I'm excited about this news.

  • MrMathboi Reborn

    im confused is it coming on the 2012 nexus 7 or what?

    • Dillon Lawrence

      Yes. Nexus 7 (2012/13), Nexus 4, Nexus 10. I don't think it's coming to the Galaxy Nexus.

      • MrMathboi Reborn

        thankyou for replying but i could have sworn android police had an article saying update: all gnex devices are stuck with 4.3 for enternity ?

        • Kieron Quinn

          We are. Gnex being Galaxy Nexus, not Nexus 7

          • MrMathboi Reborn

            oh thanks i thought it wasnt coming to the 2012 nexus 7, and i was like wtf! also do you know around what date or month it is?

          • Kieron Quinn

            Whenever Google feel like it

          • Dillon Lawrence

            Google said up to two weeks away. Shouldn't be long.

        • Dillon Lawrence

          Galaxy Nexus is an entirely different device. Gnex = Galaxy Nexus (manufactured by Samsung) around two years ago.

  • jpelgrom

    I really dislike the new Settings icon.

    • Calvin Uijlen

      Indeed, I like the KitKat update, but the settings icon is really ugly

  • ProtoKun7

    "Time to start channel surfing while you're web surface."

    Do you mean "while you're web surfing"?

  • Rohit Raghunath

    The touchscreen improved responsiveness is Nexus 5 only according to the source page. Its a starred item(*) which implies that its currently Nexus 5 only.

  • fabitrader

    Now my days are going to be loooong!

  • Brendan

    I feel kind of sad that it's finally out. Kind of like the last day of a sleepaway summer camp and it being the last day, and having to say goodbye to your new best friends because they live 3 states away, so you won't see them until next year at camp.

    No more checking AP every hour for new leaks, etc.

    Kind of sad, but happy at the same time.

    • Paras Sanghavi

      Instead you get to check AP for feature overviews and the slow painful rollout to every device! It's okay! Your friends aren't going anywhere.

      • ginobili1

        Don't forget the early access to the new Hangouts apk! :)

        Guys at AP are awesome!

    • Dillon Lawrence

      Then there's KLP.

      • Jesse Cohen

        Nahhh, they only use letters once. I think it will be called Lemon Meringue or Lollipop or Lemonade or something to similar effect.

        • Dillon Lawrence

          Key Lime Pie has not been used yet?

          • Cerberus_tm

            What Jesse means is that the next version of Android will start with an L, because it is the next letter in the alphabet: "... E clair, F royo, G ingerbread, H oneycomb, I ce-Cream Sandwich, J ellybean, K itkat, L iver-Flavoured Ice-Cream from Japan"?

          • Dillon Lawrence

            Oh, I understand now :)

          • Cerberus_tm

            Good. Liver-flavoured ice-cream is important.

          • Guest

            Thanks for the clarification! I have everyone doing my work for me;P

          • Cerberus_tm

            It was a pleasure!

          • ari_free

            I'd prefer to call it Foie Gras Ice Cream :)

          • Cerberus_tm

            Ah, I apologise for my crude tastes...

        • Albin Hermansson

          Definatily calling the next version 'Lion' would be an obvious choice, too. If they decide chocolate is their thing.

          • ari_free

            Yeah they should name all future releases after cats

  • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

    "As most of you know, both the GS4 and HTC One have IR Blasters, but both were basically useless in the Google Play edition device because stock Android didn't have support for the hardware."

    This is incorrect. The IR Blaster worked just fine on the GPE devices. Version 4.2 included the TouchWiz Framework on the Galaxy S4 to support the IR Blaster. (The HTC One's IR Blaster did not work on launch.) Once Version 4.3 came out the TouchWiz Framework was removed from the Rom and official support was added by Google.

  • Johnathan Rodriguez

    Will there finally be a taco emoji in Hangouts?!?!

  • Derik Taylor

    So did they say anything about Google Voice VOIP calling, by chance...? Not gonna lie, that was one of my biggest hopes with this update...

  • Paul_Werner

    Can't wait till Yatse adds the full screen lockscreen backgrounds into the app

  • EowynCarter

    I'm wondering about the emoji, is it possible to disable the emoji key with the new hangout version ?

    • Cerberus_tm

      Yes, please! I hate them. Google, I am adult, for God's sake! *stamps foot, cries*

  • HELLO HELLO

    Just wanting to know does that mean we get to view all emojis in apps like twitter in full color ?

    • Walkop

      Should be, yep.

  • Mystery Man

    hangouts apk download?

  • Joseph

    I live in Ireland, any legitimate sources where I can get my hands on this??

  • Slawootsky

    So looks like I can install this on my good old HTC Hero.

  • Slawootsky

    By the way, the phone app has prioritized people since ICS, what's up?

  • bakedpatato

    how do i flash this on my zte orange

  • nicksdr

    Full-screen wallpapers with preview

    Your wallpaper now extends through the notification tray and system
    buttons. And when you change your wallpaper, you can preview just how it
    will look before you set it.*

    WHY THIS HAS TO BE NEXUS 5 ONLY

    • Teodor Axel Johan Jönsson

      Who said it will be a Neuxs 5 only?

      • Guest

        On the android 4.4 KitKat source page, it is starred as currently available on the Nexus 5 only....but I really hope it comes to other devices sporting soft-keys as well.

  • X3HaloEd

    "both were basically useless in the Google Play edition device because stock Android didn't have support for the hardware"

    Uhh.. Wasn't that actually implemented in the 4.3 update for the GPE devices?
    http://www.androidauthority.com/htc-one-galaxy-s4-google-play-edition-android-4-3-update-252532/

  • Bala

    Looks awesome, features like full-screen mode and swipe from edge for status bar, prioritizing contacts, are already there on Samsung devices. Great to see coming to all devices

  • randy

    3 letdowns:

    1) No option for battery percentage in the status bar

    2) still limited to 4 rows in home screen

    3) still limited to 16 apps per folder

  • Mike Todd

    Thank you for this KitKat. I have been waiting for this. Really nice user friendly and smooth

  • Adrian B

    I kind of miss the Holo blue, but as I see more and more screenshots of Holo light, it's growing on my.

  • Matthew Fry

    surface *surfing

  • Bretton Key

    These are some great features designed to make the average user a bit more savvy as well maximize the performanec of Android devices... Sadly being on Verizon I won't see this Kit Kat unless I got to my local 7-11...(sigh).
    Currently sporting the Note 2 is still on 4.1.2 but I'm on AOKP 4.3
    Sad that only ROMers offer the only solace where I can get the stuff made more phone.
    On another note there are 3 features I'm surprised Kit Kat doesn't offer:
    1. It's version of multiwindow/floating window of apps
    2. Arrow keys in the keyboard, and more options of keyboard layouts.
    3. Being able to switch the UI mode of devices to phone, phablet or tablet.

  • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

    I really don't like the white icons on top. I much prefer the alternating blue/grey to represent connectivity and to stand out. Is there a way to modify this within the settings (without rooting it or getting a custom ROM)? Or will it alternate between white and grey?

  • RSerda

    omg.. what's the HOLDUP on this update...?!?!

  • Matthew Dumas

    Anyone have issues with map Bluetooth? Its not working for me.

  • ashvin

    Hi
    How to download Google play store app on android tablet?