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KitKat Feature Spotlight: Apps Can Now Go Truly Full-Screen, Hide The Navigation Bar

While many Nexus fans laud Google's software navigation button initiative, it's always been a bit irksome that they take up valuable screen real estate at times when they're not really needed. If you're reading a book, watching a movie, or playing a game, the software nav buttons are more a distraction than anything. In fact, until now, only the YouTube app (and perhaps a couple other system apps in certain circumstances) was able to hide those buttons. With Android 4.4, that finally changes.

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Full-screen immersive mode is a new feature in KitKat that allows any app to go truly full-screen, hiding both the navigation and status bars.

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Android 4.4 Source Is Being Pushed To AOSP Right Now

After announcing KitKat and the Nexus 5 earlier today, and releasing the Android 4.4 SDK, tools, and other related goodies, Google has moved on to the next important step - source code. As announced on the Android Building forum, Android 4.4 is now trickling in, bit by bit, into the AOSP repos. If all goes well, we can expect it to complete within several hours.

Update: The source push is 100% complete.

The two new branches are called kitkat-release and kitkat-dev, and the release tag is android-4.4_r1. The code for hammerhead, aka Nexus 5, is already up, with the respective kernel repo still waiting its turn.

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Google Announces App Indexing In Google Search, Will Begin Providing Deep Links To Apps Within Search Results

The Google Search app is already the quickest way to retrieve information on your Android device. With just a few words, users can search the web, open apps, and pull up directions. The problem is that some information opens up in a web browser that would be better suited for an app. If you already have the IMDb app installed, why should a search result shoot you out to the browser? Some links ask which app you want them to open in, but how can you tell which ones?

With app indexing, users will soon have more control over the experience.

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KitKat Feature Spotlight: Android Now Supports IR Blasters Natively, But Only Sending Behavior, Not Learning / Receiving

A much-requested Android feature for some time now has been infrared support, with the likes of Samsung, LG, and HTC all outpacing Google to enable the technology on their devices. As such, a fragmented API ecosystem has emerged, and now Google's here to set things straight - or so it would seem at first glance.

Android's new IR blaster support only supports one real action: transmitting an IR signal. It does this with a new API and system service that any app can take advantage of on IR-equipped devices running Android 4.4 or higher. So that's good. Unfortunately, it seems Google missed a rather important part of the IR equation, at least according to the developer of Smart IR Remote.

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Android 4.4 KitKat Is On Its Way, Here's What To Expect When It Hits Your Device

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.

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KitKat Feature Spotlight: Bluetooth Devices Can Now Control System Volume Directly, No More Messing With 2 Volumes

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.

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KitKat Feature Spotlight: 4.4 Includes Moto X-style "OK Google" Voice Commands, But Only On The Nexus 5 For Now

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.

ok google

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. Second, the "OK Google" command works on the home screen in Android 4.4...

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Google Play Services 4.0 Rolling Out To Gingerbread And Above, Includes New Ads SDK, Updates To Geofencing, Maps, And Wallet APIs

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. With this update, efficiency can be further improved thanks to new settings that allow developers to limit how quickly their apps are notified about entering or exiting a geofence and if they should even be notified at all if the user only briefly passes through the area.

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KitKat Feature Spotlight: Audio Tunneling To DSP Dramatically Reduces Battery Consumption When Playing Audio

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.

To address the latter issue, Google has introduced audio tunneling to DSP in Android 4.4.

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Android 4.4 KitKat SDK Is Now Live, Complete Developer Tools Bundle Ready For Download

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.

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As usual, the complete Android Developer Tools bundle comes with the Eclipse+ ADT plugin, Android SDK Tools, Android Platform-Tools, the latest Android platform, and the latest Android system image for the emulator.

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