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.
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.
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.
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.
If you believe the predictions, Google is going to announce Android 4.4 KitKat (and the Nexus 5) in mere hours. According to a new report based on leaked marketing materials, Android 4.4 is going to tackle some of the biggest issues that have been plaguing the platform and Google's services as a whole.
Verizon got it first (for once), but now it's time for Samsung Galaxy S4 owners on Sprint to get their Android 4.3 update on. The over-the-air download should be disseminating today, though we've yet to see confirmation from Sprint itself. Assuming that it is indeed going out, the update comes right on schedule, according to a leaked Samsung document.
In addition to the standard Android 4.3 features, the OTA download (L720VPUAMJA) delivers compatibility with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Samsung's Knox encryption system.
Owners of almost all versions of the HTC One should have received the update to Android 4.3 by now. There's the Google Play Edition, the international version, the Developer Edition, and carrier variants for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. So what's missing from this picture? If you said "Verizon," then congratulations, you've finally become just as jaded and cynical as your friendly neighborhood tech journalist.
@htc One Vz customers: we need more time to spin new SW & re-test 4.3 update.