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Android 4.4 Kitkat: A comprehensive review

By Aniruddh on Monday 18th of Nov 2013

http://gdgt.ro/25191

Android 4.4 KitKat may be superficially similar to JellyBean, but that’s just the tip of the Iceberg. There are a lot of cool software tweaks which make the OS run much faster than before, now said to support devices with as low as 512 MB RAM. This happens to be Google’s new goal, making sure the OS has a wider horizon. But then again, we still can’t digest the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is being denied the update. Back on track, there are a lot of things that make Android 4.4 KitKat, a desirable OS.

OS run much faster than before, now said to support devices with as low as 512 MB RAM.

Firstly, you do notice several changes made to the UI. KitKat is definitely more polished to look at.
Firstly, you do notice several changes made to the UI. KitKat is definitely more polished to look at. One thing to be noted is that some aspects may just be a part of the Google Experience Launcher, which Google claims to be Nexus 5 exclusive. The icons have been redesigned to look much neater and rounder, it looks brilliant on the Nexus 5, the increased resolution is notable in the icons. Also, the notification bar is now semi-transparent, and all icons in the Notification bar are now white, this lets the wallpaper express itself more than before. Moreover, this feature has been extended to apps as well, in a different way, by means of a new mode called the Full Screen Immersive mode, which allows apps to use up all of the screen’s available estate. Never have those capacitive buttons bother you again, while playing games or watching videos. If you want your notifications that bad, all it requires is a swipe to the side of the screen.
A feature that was surprisingly (or not) absent in the launcher is the ability to go Landscape mode on the home screen. We can forgive them for that, as the app drawer receives some special attention. The boring black color in the app drawer background is now replaced by your wallpaper. The 5x 5 grid icons found in Nexus 4 Jellybean is now replaced by a much neater 5×4 grid in KitKat, as seen in Nexus 5. They have also done away with showing widgets in the app drawer, it is now just a long press away from the home screen, making it more easier to access.
Guess what else has gone fullscreen, it’s the album art of the media you are listening to, while the screen is locked. Something about going Fullscreen that makes everything look uniform and good. This works while using Chromecast too.
Google Now is now more integrated into the launcher than ever before, the leftmost home screen is now the residence of Google Now. Google Now can also be accessed in the orthodox way, by long pressing the home button. Another way of accessing Google Now in the Nexus 5, is by saying “OK Google”, when the Home screen is on. Sadly, it doesn’t work when the screen is turned off, a feature exclusive only to the Moto X.
One of the other goodies that Android 4.4 KitKat brings with it is a much more organised Phone app. We can see Google cherishing the power of its broad database. “Yellow pages” forms a nice alliance with the phone app. The Phone app first takes you to a screen where you can directly click and call business numbers. In addition to this, it also remembers the numbers that are more frequently called, and displays the list of people you just called below the search bar. This works while receiving an incoming call too, Google first cross checks the number with its broad database and displays relevant information. Where’s the dialer, you ask? the dialer is now a button away, and can be accessed by tapping on the dialer button in the drawer. By far, one of the best features of Android 4.4 KitKat, turning an old-school phone app to something innovative.

The Messaging app is now replaced by Hangouts. It is a result of Google’s venture to merge two apps into one.
The Messaging app is now replaced by Hangouts. It is a result of Google’s venture to merge two apps into one. Many did not find this very enticing. The same app is subdivided into Hangouts chat and the SMS, sowing new seeds of complication. Switching between the two can often be irritating. You are given an option to use some other messaging app, if you dislike Hangouts. The Hangouts app is also available for download on Google Play Store.
KitKat also makes the Bluetooth, a bit more interactive. This owes to new support for Message Access Profile(MAP), exchange messages between your bluetooth enabled car and your smartphone. That’s not all, Android 4.4 takes the previous Bluetooth LE support to a new level, this new tweak is called Bluetooth HID over GATT profile. This allows apps to interact with low-power peripheral devices such as keyboard and mouse. In other words, it’s a form of low energy wireless communication.

With Cloud Printing, print files or documents directly from your device.
Another interesting feature is Cloud Printing. Print files or documents directly from your device. The required printer must be compatible with Google Cloud Print. The list of compatible devices is quite long. Google does specially mention the HP ePrint Printers. Morover, any printer with an app on Play Store should do the trick.
Tap-and-pay payments have been made much more simpler. Secure data regarding the credit card is stored in a secure element. Earlier, it required permissions from the device carrier. Google Wallet finds a path around the bush with a new feature called Host-based Card emulation(HCE). Now, you do not require any sort of permissions from the device vendor, tap and pay through any app.
Android 4.4 has 2 gallery apps. Google+ photos and the Gallery app. Google +photos does seem to have the upper hand, as it displays photos backed up in Google+ in addition to local photos. Both Photo apps have their own Photo editors and a wide array of filters. Having two photo apps at the same time is a bit strange, Google may do away with one of them.

The most important feature of Android 4.4 is what they call “Project Svelte”. It reduces memory requirement of OS and apps.
The most important feature of Android 4.4 is what they call “Project Svelte”. It reduces memory requirement of OS and apps. As a result, phones with lower hardware should also be able to run the OS. KitKat boasts of a hardware requirement of just 512 MB RAM, which is a major feat if true. But then again, it is surprising that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has been denied the update. The reduced memory requirement is also well integrated into many of the default apps.
Screen recording is also much easier with KitKat. The OS comes with an inbuilt capability of screen recording. It can be really handy while recording certain apps or games on the device. This should satisfy people who love doing app or game reviews.
Last but not the least, we will talk about devices that are promised or at least speculated to receive updates.

  • The Nexus 10, Nexus 7 (2012), Nexus 7(2013), Nexus 4
  • HTC One, HTC One Google edition, HTC One developer edition, HTC One mini, HTC One Maxx, HTC Droid DNA
  • Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play edition, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy S3
  • LG G2
  • Moto X, Motorola Droid Ultra, Motorola Droid Maxx, Motorola Droid Mini, probably the Moto G.
  • Sony Xperia Z, Sony Xperia ZL, Sony Xperia Z1, Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

UPDATE

There is a way to get the Google Experience launcher on your device, all you got to do is install a simple apk, all credits to Android Police. Most aspects of the launcher seem to be working perfectly including “OK Google”, and swipe left to reach Google Now. All you need is a Google search update. It should have reached all android devices by now.

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