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Now that the Android 4.4 KitKat fanfare is (finally) settling down, it's time to revisit our Getting To Know Android series, where we bring to light the new and awesome changes in Google's newest mobile OS - exposing the big stuff right along with some interface changes you may not have noticed yet.

There are plenty of new pixels in Android 4.4, changed UI elements, new design patterns, and a slightly more sophisticated language to decode, along with plenty of new features. The newest revision isn't without its faults (we'll get into those in the next Stock Android Isn't Perfect) but we've got plenty to cover.

In this post we'll mainly be looking at user-facing changes, interface tweaks, and visual elements, but if you want a great run-down of some of the invisible features of KitKat (like support for IR blasters, new SELinux policy, etc.) check out our compendium of new feature coverage here.

If you're a fan of interface, design, or Android in general, grab a snack and settle in.

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The Lock Screen

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The lock screen is the very first thing you're greeted with when you turn on your phone. It's a monumentally important part of the interface that's received a few considerable changes with Android's latest iteration.

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Left: Android 4.3 Right: Android 4.4

First up, the dotted circle at the bottom of the screen that pulled up Google Now in Jelly Bean has been replaced with an upward arrow. The dotted circle was meant to play off the suggestive hints of the lock ring itself and the hint for the upward-swipe-from-home Google Now gesture. The up arrow is certainly more intuitive, if less pretty.

Additionally, there's a camera icon in the lower right. It sort of throws the navigation bar off balance but serves as another obvious guide to the camera widget we grew accustomed to in Jelly Bean, hiding furtively to the right of the lock screen.

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Lock screen widgets have also undergone some changes - for one, the transparent cards on which they reside are now sharper. Also, lock screen widgets can now be enabled or disabled in Settings > Security. The lock icon, meant to hint to you that you can pull it back up to get back to the initial lock ring, is also larger now.

As an added bonus, users of Enterprise security measures (for example, setting Email as a device administrator) can now use lock screen widgets.

Oh, and the clock - in Matias Duarte's video interview with the Verge, he touted the fact that an expanded Roboto family allowed for more typographic design options. In this case, typographic revision also resulted in some self-editing. Rather than the black:thin (black in this case being a font weight, not a color) configuration of Jelly Bean, KitKat takes the all-thin approach, displaying the time in just one weight of Roboto. This is also true for the clock app, which we'll look at soon.

If you happen to be playing music, the lock screen will show you big, beautiful album art that occupies the entire background.

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The Home Screen

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Once you're past the lock screen, you arrive at the home screen. The home screen is another huge part of the overall experience - when you aren't running an app, this is where you are. So, what's new? Almost everything. Let's start from the top.

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Status Bar

The status bar. It's transparent with a subtle shadow to back the all-white-all-the-time icons. This is a leap from the solid black bar with #33B5E5 icons from Android 4.3 (which turn gray when not fully connected or active). Additionally, network activity arrows have been left on the cutting room floor, only appearing in the quick settings panel. Overall, network connectivity has been made strangely more opaque in KitKat, though for many average users this isn't a huge concern.

The pull-down behavior is obviously still present to access your notifications, and the notification shade itself is largely untouched except for white iconography and highlights.

Google Search

The Google Search widget is slightly refined, and has an introductory "Ok Google" hint in Roboto Condensed, along with a microphone icon that has an open oval when not "listening", and a solid one when it's ready to go.

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The widget also has new animations when you activate it, with an expanding circle transitioning you to the "speak now" interface, or the search page which, besides recent searches and in-depth suggestions, is just a translucent white overlay on the home screen itself.

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The interesting thing about Search in KitKat is that it is both Search and the launcher. It's Google Search with access to apps and the ability to use widgets and wallpapers. This puts it in a unique position. If Google decides to bring it out of Nexus 5 exclusivity, Search's new launcher could potentially be applied to other Android devices, providing a stock-ish launcher for those using devices with manufacturer skins. This would be the first step in reigning in control of the Android user interface through user choice. Users could in the future, conceivably, easily choose to get the Google experience on their device, and there wouldn't be a thing manufacturers could do about it.

Google Now Screen

One of the benefits to the launcher and Search apps fusing is the Google Now screen, just a swipe to the left-most home screen. Oddly, Google Now can still be accessed with the swipe-up-from-home gesture on the home screen, but swiping left is just as easy. The screen fades into view with a slick transition.

There are several new things here. One of the most noticeable is the addition of a new set of tools at the bottom of the scroll view.

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Users can now get quick access to reminders, look at Google Now's settings (and "teach" it what they want to know), and access settings through the revised overflow icon.

The "customize Google Now" view is particularly interesting, because it gives a couple of new design techniques to ponder.

Specifically, the title in the action bar is in all-caps Roboto Condensed, one of the new Roboto expansions Duarte mentioned in his talk with the Verge.

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The next notable item is the behavior of list items expanding into cards. This isn't very graceful yet, but it's there. Tap a list item and you get a card, offering you choices you can select with handy iconography or typography. This is a much more dynamic way to select options than radio buttons and check boxes.

Of course, the whole screen follows the gray-on-lighter-gray pattern KitKat sticks to (mostly, anyway), but the Google Now screen holds one other surprise - a new shade of blue for Android. The new shade is #4285f4. It's not HOLOYOLO blue (#33B5E5), but that color is still all over the place in KitKat. It's unclear whether the new blue is a Google Now branding decision, or a color that will eventually spread to other parts of the OS, but it is pleasing either way.

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Icons and Folders

Icons on the Nexus 5 are bigger proportionally than their counterparts on the Nexus 4 display. An over-simplified explanation of this would be that KitKat recognizes the Nexus 5's display as being composed of less density-independent pixels than the Nexus 4 display, despite the fact that its size and pixel density are higher. This results in the appearance of larger icons. It's unclear whether this will be the case for other Nexus devices updated to KitKat with official GEL support, but the larger icons are easier to press, though they can look a bit over-the-top. This principal also means things like scroll indicators (where large letters appear to the left of a scroll bar) and other visual elements may be exaggerated throughout the OS.

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Folders have gotten a visual makeover, but function exactly the same. As with several other UI elements, folders are now based on translucent white shapes. The folder icon is a translucent white circle. So is the placeholder for folders in your dock. So is the squared pop-up spawned when you click a folder.

By the way, folders can still only hold sixteen icons. The scrolling folders rumor never quite materialized, unfortunately. That said, I've never hit an instance where I needed a folder with sixteen icons, much less seventeen.

Another subtle tweak to folders is that, when you have a folder with 10 or more icons (this is the cutoff for 4 columns of icons), the square popup is centered on the screen, while it used to be off to one side or the other in 4.3. This is largely due to the bigger icons, discussed earlier.

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One last thing - icon labels are now typed in Roboto Condensed. This is a member of the Roboto family that's popped up across KitKat. It certainly allows for more compact, readable labels, and it will be interesting to see where it spreads next.

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Indicators, Etc.

Gone is the long bar atop the hot seat. It's been replaced with an indicator made of (you guessed it) translucent circles, which scoot over (a la iOS) when you begin to drag something to the home screen. A "+" symbol also appears, indicating that you can add a new home screen in a snap if you want.

Likewise, the app drawer button is now a translucent circle with six smaller circles, replacing the open circle and six squares of Android past. This button is more cohesive with the white and/or translucent vibe of the rest of the home screen, and even has a cleaner feedback indication. No longer is the user confronted with a cropped blue glow. Now, the app drawer icon becomes slightly more opaque when pressed.

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Now that the status bar icons are white, it could be confusing to figure out whether you're connected to Google services or not. In Jelly Bean this distinction was easy: gray icons mean no connection, holo blue and you're set. In KitKat, your icons are always white, but if you're not hooked up to Google services, the icon will be orange in the quick settings panel.

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Adding Stuff

In Android 4.0, Google added widgets to the app drawer. Adding widgets to your home screen meant selecting the Widgets tab in the drawer or swiping to the right past all your apps.

With 4.4, Google's changed the way you change your homescreen again. Now wallpapers, widgets, and settings for (unsurprisingly) things related to Search are all a long-press away.

If you're picking a widget, the interface is just like it used to be - translucent cards with widget previews that you can drag onto a home screen. Speaking of which, dragging anything onto the home screen gives you the option to quickly create a new screen in the lineup.

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Wallpaper Picker

Setting a wallpaper has been a thorn in the side of many Android users for a long time. Previously, setting a photo or other downloaded image as a wallpaper required the use of an awkward cropping interface. Sizing up a photo or design for a wallpaper took some thought, and often some calculation, to make sure it would fit and crop properly. Those days aren't quite over with KitKat, but the wallpaper interface is certainly much better than it was.

First, it combines stock wallpapers, live wallpapers, your own recent picks, and the option to choose from all your images in one long strip of items.

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If you choose to use your own image, there's no more cropping interface. It just shows up. You can pinch to zoom the image in or out, and the wallpaper picker will give you a kind of preview of what it will look like, moving all the UI elements except for the "set wallpaper" and nav bar out of the way.

The App Drawer

The app drawer, as mentioned earlier, is now devoid of a widget list, and only houses your apps. The list is now a 4x5 grid (for reasons discussed earlier), so navigating to the app you want may take more time, but once you get to the appropriate page, you'll definitely see what you're looking for. The horizontal pagination of the app drawer is sort of a pain, but it is still better than the 3D cube drawer from the Gingerbread days.

The app drawer also shares the same dotted scrolling indicator as the home screen, offering a consistent scrolling experience between the home screen and app drawer.

A Word About GEL

Google made a very interesting decision with its Search-spawned launcher. Specifically, it decided not to include the launcher in 4.4 updates for the Nexus 7 and 10. Users of the tablets will be greeted with a launcher that is virtually identical to that of Jelly Bean, except that more things have white accents rather than holo blue.

What's stranger is that a lot of elements seem to have been totally ignored. Wallpapers still need to be selected via long press (which will pull up a list of apps to handle the task, like Jelly Bean), while widgets are found in the black-and-blue app drawer of old. Folders likewise are still black (though their place holder is a jaggy white circle).

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The seeming lack of attention to the launchers on other Nexus devices running stock 4.4 must have been on purpose. After all, the Google Experience Launcher should be spreading to other Nexuses and perhaps even more devices eventually, right? Well, that's not clear. According to a report by the Verge, Google is keeping the launcher an exclusive to the N5, and might offer it to the Nexus 4 in the future. No explicit mention of other Nexus devices (tablets) was made, but a loose allusion to Play Store availability was thrown in.

If I might add in some editorial thoughts, it makes little or no sense for Google not to have included the launcher with the other Nexus' updates. After all, much of the user-facing change in KitKat is found in the launcher. System-wide white highlights clash with the new-old launcher which still clings to #33B5E5. Such a fundamental difference in interfaces between the same line of devices puts a LOT of marbles into the "bad UX" jar discussed at I/O this year.

Let's hope Google finds their launcher a success on the N5 and opens it up at least to the other Nexuses. Of course, users can still get the launcher by installing a quick APK if they, like me, would like a more consistent feel.

Stock Apps

Camera

The camera interface remains largely unchanged. The shutter release button is slightly tweaked, having a dark ring and a more prominent drop shadow under it to separate it from whatever scene you're looking at behind it, and the mode selection picker has a little less padding than in Jelly Bean.

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Left: Jelly Bean Right: KitKat

Non-Destructive Photo Editor

Google's stock Photo Editor has always been pretty decent for mobile in-camera editing, but KitKat's new "non-destructive" photo editor has taken the interface to a new height. The layout has been updated and (ignoring the pinstripes) looks and works great on both phones and tablets. Besides the new layout, the editor adds in more fine-tuned controls over effects and adjustments, including things like gradient filters. Users can also save presets for faster editing.

The real draw though, again, is that the editor is "non-destructive." Not that anyone shooting with a mobile device is necessarily concerned about maintaining absolute fidelity from phone to monitor, but the editor won't destroy or degrade any photographic data as you wildly fling adjustment sliders with reckless abandon.

Clock

Much of the Clock app appears similar, with the red accents that stunned when the app debuted, all-caps typography, and minimal overall interface. There are still some notable changes, though.

Now, when choosing a location to add, the scroll bar matches the bold red of the upward navigation. The stopwatch screen is a little different, with the stopwatch itself now centered on the screen, smaller numbers in a consistent thin weight, and no "M" or "S" superscript labels.

The location icon has also changed from the place-marker KitKat uses elsewhere to a globe icon with a circular highlight. On the alarm screen, there's no more action bar! Little trash cans will let you delete alarms at will (since swiping is no longer an option), and the plus button has jumped to the bottom center of the screen, with the overflow key flanking it at the right, as is the case throughout the app.

Switches in KitKat, as we'll discuss in Stock Android Isn't Perfect are still holo blue for some reason, but the rest of the app looks like it's been given a healthy waxing.

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Top: Jelly Bean, Bottom: KitKat

Thankfully, the time picker for alarms has also been updated.

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One more thing - if you've got an alarm coming up, you can preemptively dismiss it.

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Dialer

The dialer got a major overhaul in KitKat - it not only switched from dark to light and gradient-happy to flat (and picked up a few card-inspired elements) but it learned some new tricks too.

Instead of a dialpad screen, you'll be greeted with favorite contacts, frequents, and recent history when you first start up the app. You can access the dialpad with a quick tap of the button at the bottom center. Where users used to be able to search for contacts, they can now also search for local businesses. The dialer even allows for mistakes. While it doesn't suggest alternate spellings, it will know that "chnrse" actually means "chinese," and search accordingly. This is the same sorcery that powers KitKat's smarter caller ID, which will try and look up unknown numbers against a list of businesses.

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Like the latest Google Search, the dialer is also cognizant of contacts with multiple numbers, and will ask you to choose a number when dialing from your favorites.

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Email

The Email app has felt less than ideal for a while. Its main problem wasn't necessarily overall functionality, but the interface it used to get things done. With KitKat, the Email app has been shown some love, getting many of the good interface bits from Gmail.

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Top: Jelly Bean, Bottom: KitKat

Hamburger navigation, swipe-to-delete (or archive), and pull-to-refresh are all accounted for, along with some settings tweaks.

Aside from the interface, there's not a ton to be excited about, but those wishing to manage POP/IMAP/Exchange accounts on the go will be pleased to have received some attention.

Unified File Picker

KitKat's file picker is one of the platform's unsung heroes. In Jelly Bean, if you wanted to send or use a file, you'd just get a list (like the "complete action with" picker) of apps that could serve up files. In KitKat, there's a comprehensive, easy to navigate file picker that can draw from your cloud storage accounts, gallery, photos, downloads, recent files, and "advanced devices" (meaning SD card or internal storage).

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The app itself is extremely simple, and offers both list and card-based grid views. Perhaps the only downfall of the app is that there's no way to simply browse through your files unless you're about to use them. In other words, you can't explicitly open the file picker by tapping an icon in your app drawer. This is probably by design, as we know that the Android team has some very particular opinions about how file systems should work and be experienced in Android.

Downloads

The Downloads app in Jelly Bean and below was fairly abysmal. It was essentially a list of downloaded files that you could share or trash, or sort by size.

In KitKat, Downloads has gotten a makeover, giving it a style similar to the file picker discussed above. You can sort by name, date, and size, and view your downloads in a list or grid view.

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Like before, the Downloads app is sort of a pop-over window on tablets, not functioning as a full screen app, but instead as a quick modal interface.

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'Complete Action' Picker

The "Complete Action" picker has also been streamlined. Rather than a grid view of icons, KitKat provides an easy-to-read list view (a slim reminder of the Ice Cream Sandwich picker), and automatically highlights the app you chose last time, so you can use it again (without setting it as a default) in just one tap.

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Google Keyboard

They Keyboard, which Google released to the Play Store some time ago, has also gotten a minor facelift in KitKat. The gesture typing trail (of course) has gone from blue to white, the keyboard can now swipe through the space bar (meaning you could type complete sentences in one long gesture), and there are emoji build right in! KitKat actually adds support for the emoji to appear everywhere, but users of 4.3 and below can access a limited list of black-and-white emoji.

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People

People, like much of the KitKat interface, has dropped holo blue like a hot potato, opting for light gray bars and a swapped set of icons on top, with favorites on the left and groups on the right. Likewise avatars are now left-aligned. There's a little more padding in each list item (likely due to the resolution changes discussed above), so you'll see one less contact at a time.

Otherwise, the app remains largely the same.

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New Settings

Default SMS And Home

While in Jelly Bean you'd have to do some digging to clear defaults on a launcher or SMS app (or uninstall it altogether), KitKat has separate settings options for both Home and default SMS apps, the former on the top level of the settings menu, the latter under Wireless & Networks.

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Tap & Pay

Tap & Pay, likewise, is a central location to manager your NFC mobile payment options. So far I've only got Google Wallet installed, but assuming something else comes along, it will show up here too. There aren't any options here except simple radio buttons, meaning all the control for applicable services should be contained inside their respective apps.

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Printing

Another one of KitKat's potentially interesting features is native printing. Printing works with either Cloud Print or HP's own app which can find and print to HP machines, and has a surprising amount of functionality. HP's app updates via the Play Store but comes pre-installed with KitKat.

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Other printer manufacturers will also be able to use new APIs to make their own similar print services, which is why I say native printing is potentially interesting. There's a lot of room to grow here. Check out the Dev Bytes video below for a full explanation.

If you know the ins and outs of Cloud Print, you shouldn't have any trouble printing PDFs or other documents, but Cloud Print isn't exactly the most streamlined or intuitive service, as you can see from my expansive list of devices above, which appears to map to several Android devices (some multiple times) though none of them are actual printers.

Certificate Authority Warnings

We already looked at some of the serious security enhancements made in Android 4.4 (like SELinux switching to enforcing mode), but there's one enhancement that's a bit more user-facing. KitKat will warn users when a Certificate Authority has been added to their device.

For those unaware, Certificate Authorities are often added to devices (including computers) in corporate environments. They allow web filtering software to keep an eye on your HTTPS sessions, monitoring them with the intention of improving or maintaining security.

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credit: Kyle Osborn

With the addition of CA warnings, KitKat users will be more aware of the possible monitoring, and can just check their device's trusted credentials to get a handle on what exactly is managing their traffic.

Text-to-Speech Support

Wondering if your language of choice is fully supported for Google Text-to-Speech? The Text-to-speech output menu in KitKat will now let you know the support status of your default language.

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Mobile Plan Management

KitKat also gives you the ability to - theoretically, anyway - manage your mobile plan on phones. It's been pointed out that this was present on the data-connected Nexus 7 (2013), and enabled in some ROMs for previous Nexus phones. According to this Git entry, the setting was added to 4.3 in July. Our assumption is that it was included in the 4.3 branch belonging to the LTE Nexus 7, but not for the branch belonging to the Nexus 4 or GPE phones. It may have found its way into Nexus 4 ROMs through source builds. If you're the owner of a Google Play Edition device on 4.3, let us know if you see this option.

Under Wireless & Networks settings, the option will take you straight to your provider's provisioning website, if they have one.

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Process Stats

Providing "geeky stats about running processes," Google's added another entry to the lineup of Developer Options in the settings menu (reminder: access these by tapping repeatedly on the build number in Settings > About Device). Users can choose a duration for the stats and which stats to show, giving a quick, easy way to see how processes are performing at any time.

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Sounds

KitKat's sounds have also been revamped. Besides new lock, unlock, and selection sounds, KitKat has a bevy of new default ringtones and notification sounds. While all the new tones follow the same naming convention as the Jelly Bean set, only a few survived from 4.3. The new ones, though, are almost universally smooth and pleasing.

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Jelly Bean ringtones, KitKat ringtones, Jelly Bean notifications, KitKat notifications

Design Tidbits And Other Stuff

Immersive Full Screen

With KitKat, apps can now enter immersive mode, which is kind of like an enhanced full screen. This allows apps to completely hide the system bars but, more importantly, allows users to recall them with a simple swipe down from the top or up from the bottom. This means you'll no longer need to exit a full-screen game to check your notifications.

This interface actually existed in Android 4.3 for apps like Play Movies, but wasn't accessible to third-party apps. [Correction: As Dianne Hackborn notes in the comments below, the ability to hide the system bars was accessible in 4.3, but 4.4 adds the ability for apps to hide the bars without them re-appearing any time the screen is touched. In other words, displaying the bars requires a deliberate gesture, not just a tap, from the user.]

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Apps like Google's Play Books are already equipped to take full advantage of immersive mode, but even apps that currently run in full screen with the nav bar still visible can use the gesture to recall the top status bar, which is great for users of apps that haven't gotten around to updating for the new platform yet.

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Goodbye, App Ops

Unfortunately, it looks like App Ops, the tool that allowed users to control permissions for individual apps in 4.3 has been removed in 4.4. There's no word on why this was removed, but we do know that the feature was technically not ready to be revealed when it was discovered in 4.3, so seeing it disappear is only a small, if still disappointing, surprise.

Circles are the New Squares

One very evident design move in KitKat is Google's effort to make Android softer and more inviting. Gone are (most of) the glowing #33B5E5 elements on dark backgrounds (the obvious exception being the Settings menu), icons are bigger and friendlier, and many square touch elements are now replaced by circles.

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While not strictly a KitKat feature, Android has slowly begun to transition from square vertical ellipses (overflow buttons) to vertical ellipses comprised of three circles. These can be seen in the new Search app, and the Play Store.

Dessert Case

Of course, it wouldn't be a new version of Android without a codename-specific Easter egg. This time, if you tap the version number under Settings > About Phone five times, you get a spinning K, spinning in different directions depending on where you tap. If you either tap it enough times or just long press, you'll see the KitKat-ified "Android" logo. Long press that and you'll get transported to Dessert Case, KitKat's replacement for Bean Flinger. Dessert Case, which also appears in the daydreams interface once you've found it, is a set of interchanging tiles swapping around the screen, some solid, some with Android version iconography, all the way from Petit four to Key Lime Pie to KitKat, with every step in between (even including a zombie gingerbread cookie!).

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Drag-to-Select

A new paradigm Google's introduced with KitKat is drag-to-select with overflow keys and spinner menus. This is a great subtle UI tweak that eliminates one more tap from your interactions. When you drag over an overflow or spinner, you just swipe down to the option you want and then let go to select it.

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IPv6

In a more technical tweak, KitKat will now show you your IPv6 address along with IPv4, while Jelly Bean only displayed IPv4.

System Button Hints in Full Screen

KitKat's immersive full-screen mode is lovely, but there are still times when the system bar stays up but goes black, leaving only hints as to where the three typical buttons are. In Jelly Bean, these were circles with slight gray halos, but in KitKat they've been reduced to teeny tiny, barely-there gray circles that appear much cleaner and more subtle.

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Button Styles

While much of the settings interface remains the same blue/black gradient we've seen in previous versions, the buttons have at least been touched up a bit, going for a darker, more subtle style.

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Bluetooth and System Volume

Finally, with 4.4, Bluetooth audio devices can directly control Android's system volumes. In previous versions, Android would have its own system volume, while the Bluetooth device would control another volume setting, making for a confusing, inconsistent user experience. With the update to Android 4.4, devices using Google's Bluedroid stack (many non-Nexus devices have modified stacks) will enjoy this unified control.

Final Thoughts

Got all that? It's important to note that GTKA is a living document. We've covered just about all the user-facing interface tweaks and new features of interest, but if we find more, we'll discuss those too. Barring any other undiscovered KitKat goodies, stay tuned for Stock Android Isn't Perfect. See you then!

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • rcllcr

    This is what sets AP apart.

    • hyperbolic

      Exactly my thoughts.

    • anywherehome

      yes, showing Google makes from us a dumb consumers like Apple's falling dumbness: removing permission managers (have to uninstall many dangerous apps including Facebook), removing features, no real innovations....

      hope Tizen will fix that

      • omegavesko

        Are you seriously complaining that they removed a feature that wasn't even meant to be public to begin with?

        • anywherehome

          yes, you don't need but every xda user will miss it....think twice...if Google removes these useful features there will be a place for Tizen.... a huge Google mistake

          • Richard Lawrence

            I need a translator here, I can't understand what you're trying to say.

            All I wish Google would do is give us an Option to completely remove some features.
            Like:
            Google Currents
            Earth
            Google Play Book, Magazines, Movies and Music
            Google Search
            Google+
            Hangouts
            Maps & Street View.

            I never have and never will use these, in past versions, Google Currents would drain the battery in about 4 hours. They're a waste of space and time.
            Currently, they're disabled, but I want to remove them.

        • anywherehome

          you and Google don't realize that Samsung and its features and "difficulties" has made Android so powerful....Google's copying of the Apple's falling simplicity will just hurt the Nexuses' sales

          • Paul Allen

            What do you mean by "Apple's falling simplicity"? Are you trying to say iOS is becoming more simple or less?

          • anywherehome

            iOS is very simple, boring, limited and losing share market
            without Samsung is Android 2 years in past

            numbers are obvious, Google should be inspired by growing Samsung, not losing Apple

    • Kaustubh Ghanekar

      Exactly! :)

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

    Nice way of hinting a website redesign =) i look forward to it! (also nice article! added to read later)

  • yodatom10

    I look forward to this post every year. Thanks guys :)

  • Gabs

    Damn it
    I was waiting to flash a 4.4 rom on my GS3 and it got stolen a few weeks ago :(

    • Pratik Holla

      Did you setup device manager on it? If so you can locate device on android.com/devicemanager

      • Ashish Singh

        never works in pratice (actual life), I had my xperia , device manager as well as avast antitheft installed. None of them could get my phone back :'(

  • Pratik Holla

    Pretty awesome reporting. Quick question on the lockscreen album art. Everywhere I see, I see screenshots with google play music or chromecast. Does it show full album art for apps like Pandora and Spotify as well? Or do the devs need to support it first?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I can confirm that Pandora does allow full-screen album art on the lock screen.

    • Mattias Jonsson

      Can't seem to get album art loading on spotify at all after the update.. :0

  • Daniel McKenzie J.

    QUESTION TO A NEXUS 5 OWNER:
    Has your N5 screen brightness been very low? I've turned it up to the highest setting and I'm always left feeling it's still left very dimmed. I'm not happy with the brightness at all. The screen seems very dull and lifeless. :(
    Anyone else experienced this?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      The screen seems plenty bright for my tastes. One weird thing though is that the Nexus 5 (and Nexus 4) do this thing where the brightness will subtly decrease very quickly, almost imperceptibly. Not sure why, but I've experienced it consistently on both devices. (Without auto-brightness being turned on)

      • Daniel McKenzie J.

        Hmm. I have rooted my N5 but I had the same screen brightness issue before it was rooted too. :(

        • deltatux

          Sounds like it could be a defective device, maybe send it back to LG and have Google send you a new one?

          • Daniel McKenzie J.

            Yes, think I might contact Google.

        • http://jamiehamilton.me/ Jamie Hamilton

          It's thermal throttling. When the device reaches a certain temperature, it slows down the CPU and dims the display. It isn't defective.

    • tyler

      I think its very bright. This is the only phone I've been able to use auto brightness on without it being too dim.

    • Testraindrop

      Actually my device seems to be too bright on autobrightness, must fix with Lux or custom roms.

    • Gabernasher

      I find it to be a bit too bright.

  • Cole Mickens

    Can we get the wallpaper of the colored circles? Thanks!

  • markotamcar

    I only miss one thing from OS 4.3: The little network activity arrows in the status bar. Please bring it back :'(

    • JonJJon

      As I don't have unlimited data yet, that sounds kind of annoying. I like to look at the network icon to see if something might be sucking through data when I'm not specifically loading something.

      • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

        Technically the arrows should still show up in the quick settings panel, but basic at-a-glance network connectivity info has taken a beating in KitKat.

        • Simon Belmont

          Yeah. They do show up in the quick settings.

          I noticed that straight away on my Nexus 5. It's too bad it's gone from the status bar, though.

      • Miah

        This! I am annoyed that they removed the down/up icons, can't tell wherever data is working correctly if/when stuck.

    • andy_o

      I've found those arrows all but worthless, and even misleading since they can show up even when you have no "real" data connection. Try Network Monitor Mini, even the free version should be much better but it's totally worth the price.

      • Simon Belmont

        Exactly what I started using with KitKat and what I've been suggesting to friends who did the same. I grabbed the Pro version and I love it (totally worth the solitary buck that was charged).

        I keep mine on the upper right side of the screen, compared to your middle, but in the end, it works the same. Very unobtrusive and customizable. It's a win-win. I love it.

    • Sir Oliver

      What arrows? I only get one arrow in notification, and that one is showing Downloading. No other arrows. So, are those arrows that are now missing stock 4.3 #equipment" or do you need some third party monitoring app for them to show up?

      • Sir Oliver

        Ah! The arrows that are hiding inside the 3G signal metter! Never saw them before - that is, I saw something was moving inside there ;) but I thought it was just an animation of some dots moving inside when there is traffic. Only with a magnifying glass I can see that those are in fact very, verrry, verrrrry ;) small arrows. Ok, now I understand.

        And yes, it is helpfull to know at a glance that some data is running to and from. I guess they will be back with some or other update to 4.4.

    • markotamcar

      After some more research: They actually nuked it from the source code so it can't be re-enabled by a mod/hack :( http://tinyurl.com/signal-cluster-view-xml

  • http://rootzwiki.com/news Max M.

    No mention of the new system sounds, which I absolutely love.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      The new system sounds are really great. We don't have an elegant solution for presenting them in a post like this, but I can add a quick overview!

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Why not a few sound embeds? I think the native HTML5 player should work nicely.

        • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

          Not on IE it won't.. :p

          • Testraindrop

            Nobody uses IE anyway... :D

          • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

            I could post one of those pie charts to prove you wrong but that's too much effort for a shit browser. LOL

          • Testraindrop

            Sadly true, but at least I'm certain that people visiting this page are not using IE (unless they are forced to ie. work) :)

          • Enchante

            Unless you are in the teaching sector. Getting them to move to Chrome is like teaching 5 year olds how to do trigonometry.

          • iboalali

            IE 9 and up supports native audio

          • Crispin Swickard

            And if they are using something older than that they are at work, and probably shouldn't be listening to ringtones. :D Like my workplace for instance is still using IE8... I use Firefox portable though. Could use Chrome Portable, but on a computer I prefer Firefox. Mobile however quite the opposite.

          • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

            Sarcasm is hard to detect on forum posts - Hence proved. :p

      • http://rootzwiki.com/news Max M.

        Haha understandable. I just keep seeing articles of this nature and no one mentions the system sounds so I thought that was weird.

      • BCo

        No new system sounds on my nexus 4......hmmm....

        • Ryuuie

          Google always leaves out system sounds from new versions of Android on previous phones.

          When Jelly Bean came out and I got the OTA on my Nexus S, it still had ICS sounds instead of the new ones.

          • BCo

            Disappointing...thanks for the info

          • Ty

            I just replaced the files on my nexus 7 from my nexus 5... the keyboard sound on the 7 was too annoying.

      • Larizard

        maybe upload a youtube video of them? id like to hear them all. Maybe they are composed by Owl City?? lol /S

  • http://lalitindoria.com/ Lalit Indoria

    Android Police is getting a redesign. Awesome :)

  • Lasse

    You doubled your contacts since Jelly Bean!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Different reviewers if you're talking about the previous GTKA and this one.

      • Lasse

        Damn :'(

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I think that actually might be due to my leaving a box checked in Google+ on my Nexus 5, leading to a ton of extraneous contacts entries

  • Brian

    How do you get transparent status and nav bar on the lock screen?

  • qwazse

    They also seem to have removed the two black pixels in the "back" softkey.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Indeed! I'll be addressing this in "Stock Android Isn't Perfect"

      • Tomáš Petrík

        Don't forget to mention that calc's button layout is finally fixed :)

        • silaslenz

          It isn't, the nexus 4's 16:10 layout still makes it look weird.

          • Tomáš Petrík

            Really? Because it looks correct on Nexus 5.

      • YouJay

        My touchscreen locks/hangs in Immersive Mode on a Secondary User. I've posted about this on the AOSP issue tracker page and included a video demonstrating it.
        I hope you include this as well.
        https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=62366

      • Matthew Fry

        Yay! I'm glad that isn't disappearing with Ron (>.<).

  • Eli Loewen

    How do I get this this "Unified File Picker"? I can't seem to find a way to do it..

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      As discussed in the post, there's no way to explicitly access it from the launcher. It's only called when you are using an app that lets you make use of files from your storage.

      • Eli Loewen

        I see. So if I want to browse my internal storage I'm still required to get a 3rd party app?

  • Jasper Vinkenvleugel

    IMHO they should bring back Holo Blue. It alway was a nice touch to Android and I miss it on my N7 2012

    • Erlend

      Personally I hope they get rid of it fully. Never been a fan, and there's quite a lot of it left.

    • Crispin Swickard

      I liked it launch, but at least for the status bar icons, and all for me personally I tended to want to keep wallpapers mostly blue to match (even changing icons to follow suit), otherwise other colors potentially clashed. Not I have found myself doing this with 4.4. Even though the connectivity to google services is not as identifiable without going to quick settings I think it was a good decision going with a neutral color.

  • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

    Aaaand, this article is the reason I'm such a fan of AP! Brilliant :-)

    One derp remains in KitKat and people might remember Ron pointing this out rather loudly last year - the damned Delete button in the calculator!

    • Tim Cook

      Didn't they fix this? -> http://i.imgur.com/mJ3Uv4m.png

      • Stacey Liu

        It's still there in the Nexus 4 factory image.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          Interesting. We'll keep an eye on this for SAIP.

          • Gilberto Cartagena

            Also in the hangouts apps when you press the send button strangely the holo blue doesn't select the whole icon and looks weird.

          • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

            Wait.. I saw that but didn't notice it till you said it! Dang..

          • Gilberto Cartagena

            Haha it's frustrating!! OCD to the extreme lol

          • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

            Its still derped on KRT16S for the Nexus 4. WTF Google??

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      This has actually been fixed in 4.4. I'll definitely address it in Stock Android isn't Perfect!

    • jonzey231

      One thing I hate about the new calculator is that you can't subtract percentages anymore. Previously you could type 112-20% and it would give you the answer straight up it was wonderful. KitKat calculator doesn't have the percentage symbol in the advanced panel anymore so now I've gotta type 112-(112 x .20) to get the same answer as before.

    • Irwin

      They need to create a new calculator app, one with a visible history and smaller buttons much like Microsoft's Power Calc.

    • Xarus

      to be fair - as somebody that does android UI work - getting the XML to work on all devices is a huge PITA

  • http://www.dsaif.com/ Saif

    Waiting for "Stock Android isn't perfect" now.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      It's on its way!

  • http://farukahmet.blogspot.com/ Faruk Ahmet

    Nice overview, though I think "Stock Android is not Perfect" will be much more interesting to read (and bicker about in the comments). It seems like they've missed quite a lot of opportunities UI-wise and created some annoying incosistencies. I kinda agree with and like the general direction they are going but all this feels somehow transitional and incomplete in the end.

    And what about the transitions and animations? I heard they're more varied and beautiful now but haven't seen them myself.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      SAIP is on the way, and there's definitely plenty to cover. As for transitions, there are a few new ones (like the Google Search one), but the real attraction is that it is now easier for developers to create their own and implement them.

      • ssj4Gogeta

        A couple things:
        1- The smaller dip width in Nexus 5 is due to the thinner aspect ratio. The small change in height probably didn't warrant going for higher vertical dip, so horizontal dip had to decrease. I personally liked the aspect ratio of the Nexus 4.
        2- Other Android devices appear in the printing dialog for a reason - when you print to them, a pdf of the page being printed is sent to them. Pretty handy, if you ask me.

      • TheLastAngel

        Maybe you can talk about Chrome frequently purging websites and reloading them when using multitasking or leaving for the home screen in your SAIP. That is the most annying bug I have noticed so far.

        • Seanne Richard Yared

          I'm having this exact same problem! It's annoying. I switched to Dolphin for a bit, but I keep coming back to Chrome Beta because of speed and design, but this refreshing bug is annoying me to pieces!

  • miri

    "...in Matias Duarte's video interview with the Verge..."
    Link?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Whoops, sorry about that. I'll add it in.

  • Lucas Tee

    Hi, Nexus 4 user here. Flashed the 4.4 stock image and installed the GEL apk, but the settings to use GEL as default launcher doesn't seem to stick (As in, after launching a few apps and stuff, it'll give me the option to pick either the AOSP launcher or GEL, and this keeps repeating itself)... Any idea on how to fix this?

    • Crispin Swickard

      For the new launcher to work on other devices correctly you need three apps (most recent to work 100%) from my understanding. The launcher APK, Google Play services, and Google search. Seemed to stick when I was messing around with it on my N10 on 4.3 before they again updated search.

  • Mayoo

    Liam, you just got yourself an irrevocable lifetime geek card.

    Well done!

  • virtualmarc

    You forgot to mention the option to reboot the device into a safe mode by tapping once on the power button and then holding the Shutdown menu button.

    Think this is new in 4.4 since I haven't noticed it in 4.3.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      This actually works in 4.3 as well. Thanks for the tip, though!

  • http://farukahmet.blogspot.com/ Faruk Ahmet

    You may think me petty, but my biggest disappointment is that they did not get rid of that ugly blue-grayish hue/gradient they put on the black lists (like the Settings menu).

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I agree actually. There's still a lot left over from previous versions of Android.

      • Crispin Swickard

        Although they don't have 2 panels anymore in the settings on tablets anymore. Huge visual change there on tablets, and yet most the blue left is in there. Its pretty weird.

        • Simon Belmont

          Especially the Nexus 10. The two panel settings actually made sense on that large screen.

          Now it's some weird center justified but shrunk settings. I don't like it.

          • Crispin Swickard

            Yea, I have the N10. It was so different to the point of slightly shocking. Although since I was so much more use to that view on a phone its less of an issue now seeing it on the N10, and at least until their launcher decision its more consistent now.

    • Mattias Jonsson

      Totally agree. Made that all black using xposed in 4.3, so now Ill just have to wait a couple of days for xposed to come to 4.4 :)

  • Michael Sheils

    Excellent look at Kitkat, very thorough. One extra thing I love about "ok, google" command is that you say "ok, Jarvis" and it still works. :D

    • MrJamesBrown

      I can't get it to work

      • Michael Sheils

        Does ok google work for you?

        • MrJamesBrown

          Yeah it does

          • Michael Sheils

            Odd, ok jarvis is working fine for me.

          • MrJamesBrown

            I've just got it to work xD thanks

          • Abudi

            What is this a joke or something? Or do you need to change the language? Mine isn't working....

          • Crispin Swickard

            The first 2 times it said it it worked, and then it wouldn't.. I almost never use the voice function so no biggie for me though. Hopefully they will let people set the hot words eventually though.

  • Roy Riddex

    I haven't read this anywhere else, and this might not be the correct place to post, but I discovered last night that my volume buttons can take pics while using the camera app

    • Testraindrop

      That worked since 4.2 or 4.3 or the Nexus4 already as far as I remember :)

      • Roy Riddex

        Ahh ok, cheers

      • Crispin Swickard

        I believe it was a 4.3 feature, but was on 4.2 when the Google play devices when they launched kinda like the boot animation/sun beam from those just now popping now in 4.4.

    • DiamondAvatar

      Is focusing faster that way?

      • Roy Riddex

        Don't think so, I just find it more convenient

  • sam

    I just wish google enables an option o display battery percentage in the status bar.

    AND

    allows an unlimited number of apps in the homescreen folders

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I was actually hoping for the infinite folder item rumor to materialize, it would have been a pretty nice feature, though I never have more than a handful of apps in a folder at any given time.

      • XBIRDIE98

        Perhaps the leaker got confused with infinite homescreens. (Or at least seemingly infinite; I couldn't bring myself to make more than 32 as a test - it was far too time-consuming.)

      • TEST

        Liam.. im not sure if this actually happens, but on some youtube video I saw of kitkat... if you drag down on a folder, a scroll bar appears. is that true?

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          I can't produce that behavior. Scrolling folders were part of an earlier version of the launcher but were cut for whatever reason before release (that's my understanding anyway). Since dragging over an icon in a folder picks up that icon, there doesn't appear to be a way to trigger a scroll bar. Even if you could, folders max out at 16 icons.

          • Thomas Phillips

            Folders do not max out at 16 icons on the Nexus 7 with Kit Kat. My games folder currently has 21 icons in it.

    • DiamondAvatar
  • Rob

    What's with the reversed WiFi icon. Is this how WiFi is being displayed in KitKat? :( That's ugly.

    • Joseph Cascio

      I'm guessing that that is the Available WiFi notification. In KitKat, when you are connected to wifi it is the same as Jellybean, except it is grey and missing the arrows.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      The reversed icon is the WiFi tethering icon. I tethered the Nexus 4 to the Nexus 5 so I could more quickly transmit screenshots.

      • Joseph Cascio

        Oh well, there you go. Lol

      • Rob

        Thanks.

  • Mystery Man

    flash player doesnt work :(

  • Phil Oakley

    Did you address the new toast style? Saw it in a screenshot but didn't see you explicitly mention it.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      I threw it in as part of "circles are the new squares". A lot of elements have undergone a general... Roundening.

  • dhruva

    they got rid of app ops!? i thought google is atleast gonna try and fix the permissions situation in android.

  • JonJJon

    Forget KitKat, when IS the redesign happening? What redesign? AP redesign? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    More on topic though, I hope that roboto condensed and the larger icons/DPI stuff doesn't change on the nexus 4 in future as I'm not a fan, luckily Nova gives a nice light font for labels and has icon sizes adjustable. Still onward and upward Android, let's see where you go next.

  • Squiddles

    Transparency on the lock screen? What witchcraft is this?!

  • Dianne Hackborn

    Nice article, though one small correction re:

    "This interface actually existed in Android 4.3 for apps like Play Movies, but wasn't accessible to third-party apps."

    Google's app doesn't use an inaccessible API, the API for this was added to the SDK when implemented so that Google's apps and others could use it:

    http://developer.android.com/reference/android/view/View.html#SYSTEM_UI_FLAG_HIDE_NAVIGATION

    The difference with 4.4 is that there is another new API that allows an app to hide the nav bar without the restriction of the system always causing it to appear when the screen is touched.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Ah, thanks for the clarification! I will amend the post!

    • Tinman

      Dianne,
      Thanks for all the hard work with the OS. But I have some requests

      1) Please bring back the old settings icon. The new one is ugly ..
      2) When is the new Google TV related enhancements that was rumored coming ?

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

        -_________________________________________-

    • Pete Tandon

      @diannehackborn:disqus KitKat + Immersive mode has buggy behavior when on a device with multiple users : https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=62366 any workarounds would be greatly appreciated.

  • Jack

    The new pull to refresh animation in Google Now is absolutely stunning!

  • XBIRDIE98

    The menu button for Gingerbread-era apps has been turned into circles, like the action overflow/menu buttons in Google Search.

    • XBIRDIE98

      Also, Adobe implemented not just the Action Bar incorrectly, but the slide out menu uses standard icons, but is obviously not the reference code - the content slides out of the way of the menu. :(

      • Thomas’

        Adobe wouldn't be Adobe if they didn't fuck anything up.

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

      Twitter also has circles, had them since the first beta.

  • Baleeted

    REDESIGN? WHEN!?

    • dextersgenius

      Can't wait for AP to start using the "new" logo!

    • Random!

      Also,
      (Nevermind the tag closing x, it's unremovable)

  • XBIRDIE98

    Three more things, two about the "improved" Launcher2: (GEL is based on Launcher3)
    One, there's now a bug with "flicking" to remove icons. The Remove doesn't re-hide itself. Something for SAIP? See screenshot.
    Two, some things have been de-blued (to use the team's term) but others have stayed the same, probably so as not to change the experience. See screenshots for examples.
    Also, the new ringtones seem to be exclusive to the Nexus 5, but this is probably for the same reason that Google kept Launcher2, and seems consistent with how new devices have been handled in the past.

    • XBIRDIE98

      The screenshots:

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Thanks BIRDIE! For me, the remove button does disappear on its own. There are a lot of things that are still holo blue. It's a little confusing whether they want to completely phase out holo blue or keep it in. I think it can work in some places, but some consistency would definitely go a long way.

  • Brian P.

    BY FAR THE BEST KITKAT ARTICLE!!! GREAT WORK!!

  • vespa

    I love everything on 4.4 KitKat except the Homescreen (and app drawer).
    Thankfully Android can use custom launcher.

    I just wish Android default Homescreen was more simple and elegant than currently is. Some elderly on my family had difficulties (and reluctant) when seeing Android homescreen on first time...

  • Ivan Martinez

    Hooray! My tip on lockscreen widgets being enabled for enterprise security users got posted! Thanks Artem & Liam

    • tehone

      Oops, I guess I should have replied here instead of making a new post.

      Lock screen widgets are still disabled for me (Enterprise Email turned on with enforced PIN). Option is grayed out and "Disabled by Administrator".

      Perhaps your enterprise security policy is more "relaxed" and mine more strict? /shrug

      • Ivan Martinez

        Weird, on my N4 running 4.3, it was definitely disabled, whereas now on my N5 with 4.4, they work. I love and use the lockscreen widgets regularly (imagine not having to type in your pin every time you want to check your calendar!).

        It may have something to do with the new option in the Security settings, which could have been overlooked by my enterprise security, whereas before they were locked out due to the widgets being baked into the lockscreen.

        • tehone

          Yeah, I'm on a (rooted) N4 manually updated to 4.4 via the factory image files. I haven't tried wiping data/factory reset (and don't really want to), but I figured that shouldn't affect it.

          Oh well. It would indeed be useful and neat to be able to use lock screen widgets, but then again I've been using my Nexus phones without them for so long that I've gotten used to not having them.

  • Abel

    Great article ! Got to know so much more on KitKat :)

  • Gautam

    I have a nexus 4 and running kitkat (flashed factory image). I still see the jelly bean notification/ringtones , not the kitkat ones. Very strange

  • Ashed

    Not sure if this is a CyanogenMod add-on but on my Note II running 4.3.1 "Manage mobile plan" is already available under Wireless & Networks > More...

    • HF

      Same here on my Nexus 7 2013 LTE with 4.3 stock.
      It has mobile plan management so its not a Kit Kat thing.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Strange, the "Mobile Plan" option doesn't show up for me on my stock 4.3 Nexus 4. That's specifically the bit I meant to point out.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Officially, the Nexus 7 LTE was the only device I'm aware of before 4.4 that had this feature. It's pretty fair to say it's new to phones and other devices in 4.4. The 2013 Nexus 7 LTE was on a separate, newer branch of 4.3 when it was released, which happened to include this new feature.

      AOSP ROMs which are built from latest source expectedly may contain the feature as well, that makes sense.

  • Michael

    The circle on the camera bugs the crap out of me!

  • FeaturePreacher

    I don't think the bluetooth volume is unified. I have a Nexus 5 ordered from the Google Play Store and I can still control the volume for the phone separately from the volume for the bluetooth headphones.

  • Shubham

    Easily the most comprehensive article I've read in weeks...

  • rahul_hbo

    Anyone else seeing this odd bug with the 'X' when taking images from within an app? This is from whatsapp.

    • Ashish

      Nope , I am just seeing an X and no camera icon there.
      may be just whatsapp's issue , might not have been obtimised for kitkat

    • Zombie

      It's just that it allows you to just take photos, not videos or Photospheres. So, the X stands for "you can't change this option".

  • whispy_snippet

    I still haven't even received the OTA update for 4.4 on my 2013 N7.

  • Abudi

    Wow! I can't believe I read such a long article! Very well written.

  • TY

    #4285F4 is likely the "Google Blue".

  • Chris

    They really need to make an easier method of choosing your default SMS or default anything for that matter. Throwing it under Wireless & Networks category seems like somebody couldn't find another place to stick it.

    Android should bring to life a "Defaults" category within the settings that show you all the possible defaults, and the current primary application selected as the default.

    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-VXxR0z7_o_Q/UoiBq2wTFII/AAAAAAAAD0k/vTViqUk9vOc/w486-h864-no/nexusae0_Screenshot_2013-11-16-16-45-45.png

    • Jason

      ahh yes.. this would make things much easier! i use default app manager but even that would be subpar to an integrated version on android.

      • Chris

        That's what I use as well.. Though I find it to be very slow at start up. It's still a good application regardless, just wish we could see something like this built into Android.

    • Justin Swanson

      This is sexy...

  • mLogician

    Good work :)

  • Philipp Wornath

    Oh yes. And Miracast is not working anymore :S With my Nexus 4 (4.3) and my Nexus 7 (2013) (4.3) it did actually work. But now I got the Nexus 5 and the KitKat update on my Nexus 7 (2013) but neither on the N5 nor on the N7 it's working. Embarrassing I had a presentation on friday where I wanted to use Miracast. Afterwards I went to Saturn (German electronics store) and tried it on 10 LCDs. No luck. Hope it will be fixed very soon.

  • Kyle Riedemann

    The share menu is a list now instead of a grid.

  • zampar

    In all previous versions of android, it is NOT possible to synchronize the calendar events more than one year in the past.
    Is there any change about this in Android KitKat?

  • A Black UI is the best UI

    The new dialer and downloads suck so much since its just too bloody bright and should've used the holo dark background instead of that ugly white crap.

    • Thomas’

      Sure, if you want design an OS for the l33t crewz.

      • A Black UI is the best UI

        So liking darker colours is somehow bad?

  • Robert Blenkinsopp

    I really hope they add a way to silence that certificate authority warning for certs, a "I really trust this cert" button. Those warnings are getting very annoying for a certificate that I put there are fully trust.

    Also is it me or has the ability to add a custom location in the world clock gone? It might have been a CyanogenMod feature.

  • JMonkeYJ

    I'm a little sad to see the alarm time picker go. I thought the Jelly Bean UI for that was ingenious.

  • notara

    still waiting for my update. where is it

  • Dan1ve

    any chance to get the transparent navbar/statusbar on the lockscreen for the Nexus 4?
    Because they're there on the homescreen, but when lockscreen is active, they become black :/

  • juan lebron

    I have 2gen nexus 7 and as of today have not received 4.4. help

  • TheLastAngel

    Haha, finally. This article was well worth the wait. Great job AP!

  • Rock

    Guys any idea what wallpaper is that on the first Kitkat lockscreen

  • coomb

    I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but please write about the idiotic camera interface which shows a 16:9 viewfinder and snaps a 4:3 photo.

    • Simon Belmont

      It's been doing that for a LONG time. I remember my G'Nex was doing it all the way back in to AT LEAST Android 4.2 (it continued doing it on Android 4.3, too).

      It was irksome at first, but I finally got used to it. Ironically, KitKat does it on my Nexus 5, too, but I'm so used to it that it doesn't bother me. But yeah, Google should fix that. It's not really a good thing.

  • http://www.gahe.co/ Gahe

    a lot of information and can be made for the purpose that it aims to give the customer service is non-stop.

  • Mihai
  • Sebastian Wierzba
  • Rehan Ahmed

    I still don't know Google's motive for not giving the official Google Launcher to Nexus devices!
    They are doing the Samsung thing: Either buy our latest device or you don't get the full experience.

    • Thomas’

      How about "beta test"?

      • Rehan Ahmed

        Beta Testing should be done before release. Also, I don't remember the last time Google decided to hault the launch of a new OS for other Nexus devices just for Beta Testing, not with ICS, nor with JB.

  • abel

    Doesnt 4.4 have native Screen recording too?

    • Crispin Swickard

      Yes, but only through ADB. Can't be initiated from the device. (currently)

  • umer936

    I miss the blue!

    The status bar icons and the dialer app. Black and white is boring!

  • Zdzich

    Wallpaper setting has been broken since I updated my N7 to Kitkat. Now whenever I try to set an image as a wallpaper it centers to the leftmost workspace not the middle one. I am not sure if that was caused by Kitkat itself or maybe by the fact that I installed the Google Experience Laucher from XDA and then reverted back to the stock launcher.

    • Simon Belmont

      I'd say most definitely the latter. Since the GEL centers the left most (not counting Google Now) as the central home-screen.

      Try uninstalling the GEL. Hope that helps.

      • Zdzich

        I did uninstall the GEL. The problem persists after the uninstallation :|

        I've found a workaround. The wallpaper is properly centered if the setup is done in landscape mode.

  • ggideon

    I wonder if the "okay google" always listening thing works when the N5 is daydream-ing, does anyone know or can try ?

  • Simon Belmont

    I don't see why retaining the swipe up from the home navigation button for Google Now is odd. If you're in an app or otherwise away from the home-screen, it's the fastest way to Google Now, a search, or voice commands.

    I'm glad they kept it. I use it all the time (at least until Google enables always listening activation on my Nexus 5 from anywhere and while it's asleep).

  • PLL

    I keep wishing that the keyboard also incorporated drag to select for emoticons/emoji. If you want to insert a quick emoticon, you have to tap the emoticon overflow, pick the right tab, and then select the emoticon you want. Incorporating a drag to select (or swype) type motion could let you hit and hold the emoticon overflow, swype to the right tab (if you're not on the tab you want already), and then unhold over the correct icon. This type of behavior seems like it would be way more fluid.

  • Paul Allen

    I'm relatively new to android, and I'm not used to waiting for updates. I've read that 4.4 is rolling out to the nexus 7 but I still don't have it. Can anyone give me an idea of how long it will take?

  • nihir

    The one thing I miss is the quick link to the Play Store from the App Drawer. That has disappeared which is unfortunate.

  • Justin Swanson

    With Slimkat the App Ops is still in 4.4.

    Inside the App info, scroll to 'Permissions', look for the "modify button". It should open a list of modifiable permissions. It looks like not all of the application permissions are editable.

    I don't know if this is part of the custom ROM or if it's from STOCK android.

  • Sudeep P Nambiar

    How about the resolution for contact images? Does it show small and pixelated or has full resolution?

  • Kamal

    Very Informative and Interesting..thanks

  • A Black UI is the best UI

    Downloads and Dialer app needs to use the dark background and not this white crap.

  • Liki Triwijaya

    I just found one difference on kitkat vs 4.3 in nexus 4, there's a new setting in mobile network settings that is network mode to easily change settings from 3g to 2g. in 4.3 i have to go to *#*#4636#*#* to do this. But it doesnt have a setting to automatically change from 3g to 2g based on the best network available.

  • Nate

    Notification sounds are not the same on the N10, at least not from a N10 that was sideloaded to have 4.4.

  • tehone

    As an added bonus, users of Enterprise security measures (for example, setting Email as a device administrator) can now use lock screen widgets.

    I wish but I don't think that's true, unfortunately. With the Email app active as a Device Administrator, the "Enable widgets" option is grayed out and disabled with a "Disabled by Administrator" note underneath.

    Perhaps it depends/varies on the exact security policy, but for me, lock screen widgets are most definitely disabled/locked down with Enterprise Email active.

  • Magneira

    Holly crap, this post was awesome, very informative even to a guy who know 90% of that, its good to have a site that goes the extra 10% and in the and makes a awesome post

  • Nik

    Why can't I get the camera on the lock screen of my N7 running KK and the launcher downloaded from AP server for getting the GEL...? I have the translucent status bar n all.

  • Vladimir Cuevas

    I do not understand is why the nexus 4 does not bring the same interface as the nexus 5 on your update, I see no logic

  • http://www.gahe.co/ Gahe

    I like it. I will share with my friends. I hope that many people also have hobby the same as me.

  • Lars Aussems

    Where can I find that beautiful wallpaper shown on the screenshot showing the 4.4 lockscreen. Really beautiful wallpaper.

  • Matthew Fry

    Poor Nexus 10. Even with the forced in GEL, no transparency love.

  • http://vividgiftideas.com/ Vivid’s Gift Ideas

    It has more changes than I thought. Well-researched article by the way, you must have put many hours into this -- Andrew @ vividgiftideas.com

  • saguaro

    I have Kitkat on Nexus 4 (built KRT16S), and home screen style is still from 4.3. Now sure why.

  • Nerds Logic

    I cannot explain how disappointed I am in Google to not have the Galaxy Nexus getting updated to 4.4. Guess even Google has completely disregarded the definition of Nexus. This is a huge disappointment for me and several others. I must admit this will have a detrimental affect on my purchases of ANY Nexus device moving forward for fear of Google abandoning this as well. It's a sad day when Google takes a dump on one of it's own "flagship" devices.

  • Jamie Post

    On the subject of losing App Ops; Was it not ready for primetime? Was Google taking heat from developers over giving users control over app permissions? Any explanation for this?

  • Steve

    I have a problem. After updating to KitKat 4.4 it is not possible to adjust the volume on the Nexus 4 handset for a Bluetooth speaker. Does anyone have this problem or fix ? thanks.

  • Shawn

    I have a nexus 7 and updated to kitkat but the features like translucent status bar are missing! What to do?

  • icarus

    since download from google of kitkat 4.4, i have lost my closedown menu!! can't switch the dam thing off, HELP someone please!

  • icarus

    Ooops, talking of my Nexus 7 2nd gen tablet, sorry

  • XBlox2000

    Not sure if you guys also see my point of veiw but honestly I think KitKat sucks. Anyone know of a way to switch back to jellybean? If so, please email me.

  • cbrosejr

    I have a Nexus 7 and I still can't connect to any Enterprise wpa wifi which we use at my office. Does Kit Kat do anything for this

  • Pieter Kramer

    I like the whole Google Experience Launcher thing, but I think it's pitty that you can't adjust the size of your homescreen by adding any rows or columns. It looks so small now on the Nexus 4 with all those big icons.. :(
    So it would be more awesome if they develop an option for adjusting the size of the homescreen.
    Like Cyanogenmod, it has an option to add more rows or columns to the homescreen.

  • ohaleck

    The JB time picker was the single best one among all mobile OSs. I could set alarm being half-asleep in 0.5 seconds. The new one is prettier, but it takes time, requires some attention and thought. Why does it have to resemble analog world solutions, like jogs, dials and spinners, which were most often just trade-offs due to cost / lack of space, if there is enough space to fit a full numeric keyboard???

  • Richard Lawrence

    I must be doing something wrong, the first pictures. Left: 4.3 and Right: 4.4.

    My Nexus 7 (2012) is now on 4.4, it still looks exactly like 4.3, the only difference is the Boot up image, it's no longer the cross but 4 circles.

    Other than that, that's it.

  • kenzie king

    what does the camera with the up arrow in it? in the status bar?

    • Darkseid_Omega_Effect

      Looks like auto backup to google plus to me :-/

  • Emre

    Where is the visible contacts list. I have multiple gmail accounts set up in the phone and I had different contacts on each one of them which I don't want to see them all together. I want the visible contacts option back...

  • http://www.jimcanto.com/ Jim Canto

    This is a GREAT write up! Thanks! I have a Nexus 4 (scored from the last batch before they Google sold out completely) and it's running Kit-Kat. I'm noticing that I can now take specific actions from the alert stream. Has that always been there? I'm not an aficionado. If it's new, it appears they are bringing Hootsuite-like functionality into the native OS alert stream. No screen capture available at the moment.

  • Scott

    Does anybody know how to enable the business searching from the dialer on AOSP ROM's? Or is this only a Nexus 5 feature?

  • da555nny

    You still have the ability to change the color scheme of the keyboard despite the default setting set to white.

  • Pejtar

    I can't find the menu to hide the icon names. It was present under Jelly Bean in Homescreen settings.