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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.

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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.

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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.

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KitKat Feature Spotlight: Android 4.4 Includes Native Screen Recording With MP4 Output

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.

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[Tap That] Android 4.4 Feature: NFC Payments No Longer Require Secure Element, Use Emulation Workaround

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.

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Want To Know More About Android 4.4? Check Out All These Official Google Info Pages

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.)

pretty

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.

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KitKat Feature Spotlight: Translucent Navigation And Notification Bars Can Be Requested By Apps In 4.4

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.

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[Update: No 4.4 For GNex Confirmed] Android 4.4 Will Come To Nexus 4, 7 (2012 And 2013), 10, And Google Play Edition GS4 / HTC One, No GNex Love

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.

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The Nexus 5 And KitKat Launch Today, October 31st

Ladies and gentlemen, today is the day you've all been patiently (I kid, I kid - I mean, have you seen /r/Android lately?) waiting for.

Update 11am PT: Like clockwork, the Nexus 5 and KitKat are live!

After speaking with no less than five different sources with knowledge of the matter, I am ready to confirm that the LG-made Nexus 5 should be unveiled later on today, along with Android 4.4 KitKat, additional details of which were leaked last night by former WSJ reporter Amir Efrati.

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