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]