Android 4.4 KitKat: 7 Things You Need to Know

With the launch of the LG Nexus 5 a couple of days ago comes the newest version of Google's Android OS, 4.4 KitKat. Sweet chocolatey goodness aside, 4.4 KitKat brings lots of fresh features, including visual updates, experience enhancements, and—for the dense and oblivious—Google's takeover of the homescreen.

android kitkat features things you need to know

A fresh, new design

Like Apple's iOS 7 revamp, Android 4.4 KitKat updates a lot of visual elements to the table, most notably the home screen and drawers. The drawer button has now changed, fonts are now a tad taller and thinner, and the default home screen now swipes from left to right (compared to the original center to left or right). Widgets have been removed from the drawers and have their own card area.

Faster performance and lower system requirements

One of the key features of Android 4.4 KitKat brings about is reducing the fragmentation of most Android devices. Fragmentation has been a thorn to developers since the operating system's inception, since they have to cater their apps to different versions. With this iteration, what you'll get with a high-end smartphone, you'll also get with a lower-end device.

Performance-wise, Android 4.4 KitKat is so efficient it can run on devices with only 512MB RAM. Yes, this OS might run on your ageing Cherry Mobile Magnum 2X, if the support exists for it.

A better Google keyboard

Swype users beware! Google has updated their keyboard to support swiping, intelligently producing words as your fingers hover around the keyboard—and yes, it's free. There are also Emoji and performance updates.

The Google-ization of your device

Similarly with Facebook Home (and to a possibly related note, Big Brother), Google will take over your device. App and system integrations, like the dropping of the old Messaging app in favor of and integrating it with the Hangouts app, allows for the incidental (or forced, depending on your point of view) use of other Google products. There's also another cloud-to-local storage feature for better file management apparently.

Call me paranoid, but with the recent US NSA scandals involving major tech players like Google, I'll be less trusting with the Google-ization of my device, because who knows what they're doing with your data.

Longer battery life with low-powered sensors

With KitKat, Google has implemented hardware sensor batching, making your device's sensory requests to be processed in batches—as against previous iterations' individual sensor detections—while maintaining everything active in a low-powered state, making for a better, more efficient battery life.

Other conveniences you may find useful

Android 4.4 KitKat brings about native support for IR blasters (because smartphone-TV remote controls are what's going to be hot in 2014), dialer integration with all the local establishments available around your area (theoretically it would bring up the phone number of the nearest Mang Inasal near you if you don't know its telephone number), full-screen immersion (say goodbye to the status bar while reading ebooks and whatnot) and NFC payments support, provided your device has NFC and is 4.4 KitKat-ready.

Coming to a device near you, soon

With all the buzz surrounding KitKat, it's no suprise that it's going to roll out in a few weeks, sooner in Nexus products, with HTC and Samsung products to follow in about 90 days more or less.

We're excited to experience Android KitKat as much as the other geek next door, so if you already have one, kindly share what you think!

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