Google finally unveiled KitKat last week, but you may have noticed something was missing. Yes, there was no news on the so-called Google Experience Launcher. Earlier leaks led us to suspect that Google's homescreen experience was coming to more Android devices, but the big day came and went with no mention. Recent revelations about how the Android 4.4 homescreen works breathe new life into the possibility of a more Googley experience for all.
Now that KitKat is finally out in the world, we're finding all sorts of little tweaks that make the new OS nicer to use. Google didn't give this particular feature a big headline on the Android site, but maybe it should have. Android 4.4 now lets you access your notifications from any full-screen app. This is a feature Samsung has included in TouchWiz for a while, so it's not entirely new to the world of Android.
It's a good time to be a Samsung owner, at least if you've got some recent hardware. After beginning an extensive campaign of Android 4.3 updates for US models of the Galaxy SIII, S4, and Note II (likely motivated by the Galaxy Gear compatibility it provides), Samsung is now starting to update the massively popular international SIII model, the GT-I9300. According to SamMobile, Irish S III owners on Vodafone are the first to get the update, with no other regions reporting in at the moment.
Looking for the new Android 4.4 wallpapers? We've got 'em, ready for your downloading pleasure. There are 8 wallpapers in total, 6 of which have a native resolution of 3966x3966, so you can put them on pretty much anything! The two nature wallpapers are at a slightly smaller 3966x2644, since they're actual photos. Here they are.
Update: The colorful wallpaper everyone was after - the one with the number 5 - was hiding in a different place, but we found it after all.
Google has been talking up Snapseed and it's enhanced HDR mode in recent blog posts and events, but the Gallery-based photo editor is getting a boost in Android 4.4 as well. This new editor will be shipping with KitKat, but it's also part of AOSP.
The layout of the editor has been tweaked a bit and has support for both phones and tablets. A lot of the filters and effects were already present in the Gallery, but it looks like you have much finer control over things now.
In my opinion, Photospheres are one of the coolest camera features of Android. I don't use them that often (not often enough, anyway), but I always take some new ones when I go visit my grandparents in Virginia, because the country up there is just too beautiful to ignore. These Photospheres give me something to look at when I'm feeling "homesick" for the place where I grew up.
As time has gone on, the team behind Photospheres has made subtle improvements with each Android version bump, and KitKat is no different.
Update, 11-6-13: We've added in all the relevant stories from the following week.
As you may have noticed, your friendly neighborhood Android Police writers have been more than a little busy in the last couple of days. Google had the odd notion of launching a new flagship device and a major operating system update on a holiday, so it's understandable if you haven't been able to keep up. If you spent most of last night escorting your kids around the neighborhood (or if you don't have kids, and you spent most of this morning nursing a Halloween hangover), here's everything we've got on KitKat, the Nexus 5, and anything else you want to know.
A while back, an experimental feature debuted in a Chrome for Android Beta release that seemed pretty innocuous - instead of tapping the overflow menu button to cause the dropdown to appear, you could now press, drag, and release to select an option in the list. From a touch device perspective, it's understandable why such an implementation would be desirable for some users, as it reduces the amount of tapping required for some tasks.
Google is finally paying attention to the phone app in Android 4.4 by adding smart organization of contacts, enhanced search, and a new card-based UI. However, there might be something more dastardly hiding in the dialer code. Google might be preparing to roll out ads of some sort to the Android dialer.
Another bloody update: Paranoid Android has posted a new Gapps package with a few bug fixes. Get it here.
Google might not be sending out those Nexus updates to Android 4.4 as quickly as everyone wanted - at least some of you might have a new Nexus 5 in your hands before the KitKat build for the N4 update is sent out.