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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next version of Android is bringing a lot of visual options to the table, and they're not just for Google to play with. Buried deep within the KitKat 4.4 API (level 19) is the ability for apps to request translucent system UI overlays, specifically on the top notification bar and the bottom navigation bar (if your device has one). You can see this feature in action in all the promotional photos of the Nexus 5's homescreen, where the wallpaper is visible form the top of the screen to the bottom.
Update: Here's an official Google Support answer stating the GNex will indeed be stuck in 4.3-land for eternity.
At the bottom of Google's official Android 4.4 announcement post on the company's blog, some rather pertinent information for current Nexus / GPE device owners is thrown in: OTA update news!
KitKat will be coming to the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (presumably both models, but not explicitly stated), Nexus 10, and the Google Play Edition Galaxy S4 and HTC One.
After the Nexus 5's unannounced unveil this morning, you're probably wondering about your soon-to-be new phone's official case options. Well, here they are - Google's announced two different case types for the Nexus 5, in the form of bumper cases and the new quick cover case. Bumper cases, pictured below and in the thumbnail of this post, come in four colors - red, black, gray, and highlighter yellow. They protect all sides of the phone, with cutouts only for the camera button and flash.