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
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. Read More
Android 4.4 supports a couple of new Bluetooth features, but one of them will undoubtedly appeal to the cries of OCD sufferers more than the rest: as part of an extension to Bluetooth AVRCP 1.3, Bluetooth audio devices can now directly control Android's system volume. If you use a lot of Bluetooth speakers or headphones, you know how maddening this kind of problem can be. Because your audio output device has its own volume setting independent of your phone or tablet, you're never quite sure how loud things are going to be, or if you'll need to adjust one or the other to get the sound where you want it. Read More
Easily one of the coolest features of the Moto X (and its sister DROID devices on Verizon) is the Touchless Control function, which allows users to say "OK Google Now" from anywhere and activate voice actions. That functionality is built in to Android 4.4... with some rather hefty limitations.
First of all, the "OK Google" command will be hardware-dependent. Google isn't saying exactly what the required silicon is, but at the moment, only the Nexus 5 will have access to the feature - even the other Nexus devices due to be updated won't be able to join in. Read More
The news out of Google is coming rapid-fire with the Nexus 5 going on sale, KitKat becoming a reality, and now the rollout of Google Play Services 4.0. The updated framework comes with a host of improvements to Google+ Sign-In, Wallet Instant Buy, Location Based Services, Maps, and comes with a brand new Mobile Ads SDK.
One of the most popular features announced during Google I/O 2013 was a massively improved set of tools for Location Services, which included geofencing and substantially improved location discovery. Read More
We all love listening to music on our phones. In fact, listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts regularly on our smartphones is probably one of the few things we all really share in terms of our usage patterns. The problem with listening to audio for extended periods, though, is that it can really put the hammer down on your battery life. Now, there's more than one reason for this - streaming high-quality audio over the web probably consumes more battery than the actual act of listening, but the power consumption of the processor while decoding that audio isn't negligible. Read More
Google may produce Android and maintain Google Play so that we can easily get content onto our devices, but at the end of the day, it's the developers that make the magic happen. They create the apps that make Android devices worth buying in the first place. So it's good news to see, as we would expect, that the Android 4.4 SDK is now available. Developers can make the upgrade from directly within the Android SDK Manager. Read More
Android has had native support for user-taken screenshots since 4.0, and a few OEMs like Samsung have had supported the feature even before that. But until now, getting a reliable video recording of your device's screen has been a major pain, usually requiring some kind of root solution that doesn't work for all hardware. In KitKat, Google is doing away with that, allowing end users to record video directly from the screens of their devices. Read More
Google Wallet's single-biggest problem to date in the US has inarguably been carriers. US carriers (except Sprint) wouldn't allow Google the necessary control of the "secure element" in order to make NFC payments, and as such, Google Wallet consumer adoption has essentially been trivial. With Android 4.4, that finally changes.
The new version of Android completely eschews the secure element paradigm and has instead opted for a virtual solution, using what Google calls "Host Card Emulation" technology to get the job done. Read More
Sprint customer's missed out on the Nexus 4 last year, but that won't be the case this time. The carrier will start offering the Nexus 5 on November 8th for $149 on contract (after a mail-in rebate). This applies for customers looking to sign up for a new line or those who are eligible for an upgrade, and anyone who jumps on the offer will get guaranteed unlimited data for life. Read More
With a new version of Android comes a new promotional glamor site for Google's beloved mobile OS, and this time KitKat's getting the treatment. Android 4.4 packs a bevy of new features and capabilities, but if you want the basic rundown, Google's official splash for KitKat (here) is the prettiest way to educate yourself. (Bonus: here's an equally pretty site for the Nexus 5.)
If you're looking for a deeper rundown of Android 4.4's new features, don't worry, the Android Developers site has you covered with detailed, technical information about the new OS version. Read More