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.
The latest version of the Firefox Beta has hit the Play Store, and it introduces a change to the new tab page that is sure to liven up your mobile browsing experience. As usual, top sites are presented as thumbnails on the default screen, but version 26 makes your history, bookmarks, and reading list all accessible with just a few swipes. It's an intuitive and attractive experience that easily trumps that offered in the stable version of the browser.
The goodies from Android 4.4 continue to trickle out even before the Nexus 5 reaches buyers. This time it's the updated Google Keyboard (v2.0), and you can install it right now over top of the old version. This updated keyboard adds a feature that will be familiar to anyone who has spent time with SwiftKey recently.
The first thing you'll notice with the new keyboard is that the swiping trail is now white instead of Holo-blue.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Reuters reports that the Rockstar consortium, a joint effort between Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and Blackberry, has sued Google and Android manufacturers Samsung, HTC, LG, ASUStek, Huawei, ZTE, and Pantech over patents formerly held by the now-defunct Nortel Networks. Rockstar won the patents in an auction in 2011 that topped out at $4.5 billion - Google lost the same auction with a $4.4 billion bid.
Android 4.4 introduces a new interface for accessing files from within apps. Traditionally, trying to upload a file - say, to a social network - created a popup asking which source to pull it from. Now apps will open a sidebar navigation menu that lists all the available options, and Box has already rolled out an update adding support for it.
By default, the new storage access framework only shows local files and Google Drive, but any app that has added support will also appear.
We have just a week to go before the sequel to 2011's Thor hits theaters, which makes this the perfect time to drop a movie tie-in game that cashes in on the hype. Gameloft's Thor: The Dark World places the god of thunder in a top-down dungeon crawler that looks not unlike the company's own Dungeon Hunter series, minus the multiplayer aspect. If you have an engine that works, why not use it, right?
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.
The hits keep coming from Android 4.4, and the latest one is the default android email app (you know, the one that isn't Gmail). Android Police alumnus Ron Amadeo posted the updated APK to his Google+ account early this evening, and we've mirrored it for you below. If you use the Email app (and you haven't found a better alternative on the Play Store), you'll want to check it out.
One more KitKat feature spotlight for the evening. This time, it's Wi-Fi TDLS. Added in Android 4.4, Wi-Fi TDLS, as Google describes it, is "a seamless way to stream media and other data faster between devices already on the same Wi-Fi network." TDLS, for those that don't know, stands for Tunneled Direct Link Setup.
Essentially, Wi-Fi TDLS allows two devices on the same Wi-Fi network to link directly to one another and share data without burdening the network/router/other devices in the process.
Next in the line of KitKat feature spotlights is the addition of new motion-oriented UX elements meant to give users a dynamic, fluid experience while making it easier for developers to implement high quality animations.
Android 4.4's new transitions framework allows developers to define scenes and transitions. A scene is usually a view hierarchy, while a transition defines how the scene should transform when a user enters or exits it. Developers can use predefined transition types, an auto-transition type, or create custom transitions "that animate the properties that matter most to your app."
That said, developers don't actually have to define scenes to animate UI changes - they can also animate pieces on the fly.