Kit Kat is only a “0.1″ update, but it seems to bring us a world of new features and wafery goodness. While Google unveiled its latest flagship the Nexus 5 on Halloween, it also unleashed a flood of details of what to expect from its updated mobile operating system today.
First off, KitKat’s official page is dribbled with little asterisk symbols indicating that many of the feature are “currently only available on Nexus 5.” As such, Android 4.4 KitKat is currently only available on the new Nexus 5 and will be rolling out to the rest of the world over the “coming weeks”.
‘Ok, Google’ hands-free fun
First off, a hands-free approach similar to the Moto X will be coming to all Android devices running KitKat. The voice-recognition software update will let you operate simple tasks hands-free. “You don’t need to touch the screen to get things done. When on your home screen or in Google Now, just say “Ok Google” to launch voice search, send a text, get directions or even play a song.”
This eliminates the borders and hides onscreen controls for a full-screen experience. For instance, “The book you’re reading, the game you’re playing, or the movie you’re watching — now all of these take center stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see. Just swipe the edge of the screen to bring back your status bar and navigation buttons.”
Chat, phone calls and emoji
It seems Android is essentially trying to unify all your traditional messaging and calling experience into a single app of its own.
Google added a new phone app that “automatically prioritizes your contacts” based on the people you talk to the most. The new Hangouts app puts all your SMS, MMS and Hangouts messages in one place. The app also includes some other sub-features such as the ability to send GIFs.
Speaking of innovating chat, there will be “emoji everywhere.” The much-loved colourful Japanese characters are integrated into the KitKat keyboard.
Within the phone app, Google added some “smart” features that will let you search for “nearby places and businesses, your contacts, or people in your Google Apps domain” directly from the app. Also, whenever you get a call from a phone number that’s not listed in your contacts, your phone will “look for matches from businesses with a local listing on Google Maps.” Creepy or just damn genius?
Print, file ‘anywhere and everywhere’
If your printer has an app, you can print photos, documents, and web pages directly from your phone or tablet. For example, you can print to any printer connected to Google Cloud Print and to HP ePrint printers.
There is more focus on the newly designed QuickOffice app which is of course integrated with Google Drive. The app gives you quick access to your recently used files and it’s meant to be easier to send and share files.
It almost goes without saying, but Google also put a lot of effort into the overall design and user-friendliness of KitKat:
Behind the screen upgrades
Earlier this week the news came that the OS will be “free for all” as the Google dev team announced that it will be making tools available “to help developers create memory-efficient applications for entry-level devices.” For instance, KitKat will “run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices.”
Google also notes that the multitasking feature has been improved and the performance is at an “all-time high”. On the Android blogpost, it’s noted that the memory has been optimized so that your touchscreen experience is both faster and more accurate than “ever before”.
These are just the main features Android 4.4 KitKat brings us. The list goes on and if you want a full list of what’s new, take a look at this Android blogpost. Though it gets very technical, if you’re not fond of reading you can take a look at this video giving devs a comprehensive tour through of what’s new: