All The New Features In Android 4.4 KitKat

All The New Features In Android 4.4 KitKat

The global release of the new Nexus 5 also makes the official debut of KitKat, the latest version of Android. Here’s what you need to know about Google’s latest mobile OS update.

Arguably the best feature of KitKat is that it isn’t purely for new devices; it will be backwards compatible with many older models, so everyone can get in on the fun. A few of the prominent enhancements in KitKat include:

“OK Google” commands and better Google Now integration: How cool will it be when you can wake up your phone, start a search, take a photo and so on just by saying “OK Google”? Google Now will also find a place on your homescreen if you like.

Universal, integrated search: Now you’ll be able to look up a number for a business or person directly from the phone dialler — searching across not just your contacts, but also Google Apps and nearby places.

SMS support, location sharing, and animated GIFs in Hangouts: Google announced this yesterday, and it means that Hangouts can be your go-to app for all of your instant messages, video calls and text messages.

Less memory usage: “KitKat streamlines every major component to reduce memory use” the Android Developer site states. So even old phones running KitKat should be faster and more responsive. (The minimum memory requirement is 512MB, and there are APIs specifically designed to let features be coded to work differently depending on available memory.)

A built-in screen recorder: Very handy for building tutorials.

Added support for more capabilities including NFC, print management, and easier file browsing: These are features Android app developers can make use of to enhance their apps.

The official Google blog announcement doesn’t say much more than that, and it’s worth bearing in mind this is still essentially a point release, not a massive alteration to the basic Android experience. Google also seems to have standardised on spelling KitKat without a space, which isn’t how it is trademarked but at least means the company is now being consistent.

KitKat is out today on the Nexus 5. It will also be made available for the Nexus 4, 7 and 10 (a change which won’t need carrier approval for the most part). Google has said it will be made available on the stock versions of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. While those devices haven’t been officially sold in Australia, that should mean upgraded those devices to KitKat will be straightforward, provided you’re happy to reflash your phone.

Android for all and the new Nexus 5 [Official Google Blog]


  • I bought the Nexus 5 just for the “OK Google” support. I use that feature fairly often (to set reminders, timers etc.) and it’ll be more than welcome on my device.

    That, and the battery life. My Galaxy Nexus gets about 5 hours of standby, but only when I’m at work. When I’m at home, I get a full day out of it. I think it’s because the reception in my office goes between 0-3 bars, depending on where I sit, but a bigger antenna / battery is welcomed too.

    Apple could learn a lesson from this, that a new OS doesn’t necessarily mean a new device. My iPhone 3G was getting slower with each update, even within 2 years of purchase, and even after wiping it clean. At times it’d take 3 minutes to boot again, so perhaps this is the beginning of the “lower power” wars that sees mobile OS’ strive to run on as many older devices as possible?

    • you have got to remember that apples ENTIRE business model revolves around reaming customers on new “ground breaking” devices every 12 months…google’s doesnt…thats why a new operating system actually results in an improvement in device operations.

      • Well, given that there’s a new Nexus device every 12 months, and a refresh of the Nexus 7 a year after the original was released, I’m guessing that Google’s business IS releasing “ground breaking” machines every 12 months.

        The difference being, Google doesn’t really need to sell phones, as they make a tidy sum off of their advertising networks, plus enterprise stuff I suppose (Google Apps etc.)

        • exactly why they are charging $450 for their flagship phone device…they dont need to pummel end users for money because they recognise that we make it for them!

    • I agree that the iPhone 3G was pretty unusable after a couple of iOS updates. However, my iPhone 4 runs iOS 7 really well and is maybe even a little quicker than previous versions. It is definitely a good thing to see planned-obsolescence becoming less of strategy these days.

      • I’ve heard from a few people that iOS 7 makes their iPhone 4 slow as a wet week. They haven’t wiped theirs clean in a while, but the reports varied.

        • I do technical support at my only local phone store and I gotta say it is a pretty mixed bag. The Iphone 4/S’ that survive the update run pretty sweet, but the amount of “error 1” we are getting on a fixed line is disturbing. I know it isn’t our connection because I do a LOT of updates to ICS/Jelly Bean on our client bases older android phones and there isn’t a problem using OTA on wifi, plus the ever so common Iphone 5 update. Over all both updates are/will be (still waiting on a way to update my lovely bug stricken Xperia Z) a welcome sight when they become much more common.

        • I never wiped my iPhone4 (they never stated to do so, and i have no idea what effect that will have on my data, if i can restore everything just fine and dandy afterwards wtf is a wipe doing to do that they couldn’t do as part of the upgrade)

          It runs horrifically slow I’m about ready to ram it up Tim Cook’s ass.

          • The wipe is to get rid of all those third party background apps and be sure that it’s the OS, not the apps, that are causing the issues.

          • As someone who has 500ish apps on his phone wiping the phone in order to get rid of apps would be quite a PITA, the only time i intend to do that is when i go to android soon. If apple cant have a proper BG app management (tell me what apps are using the most cpu and ram even when they shouldnt be running) then screw em (i know you can get 3rd party apps that kinda show you but its not all that useful).

  • Haha I find it funny how they say it’ll help Android fragmentation, yet the Galaxy Nexus isn’t getting the update.

    • It.. it’s not?

      Granted I just bought a Nexus 5, but my wife will get my GNex, and while she doesn’t care about having the latest and greatest OS, it’d still be nice for her to have, as she’ll appreciate the speed

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!