This past week Google announced Android 4.4 KitKat along with the Nexus 5 smartphone. The way chosen by Google to announce two new products was quite unusual. There were no conference, no live streaming except a blog post on the official blog and the sudden appearance of the device on the Play store.
Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps posted in a press release, “The first thing you’ll notice about KitKat is we’ve made the experience much more engaging: 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.”
Additionally, He also confirmed that arrival of the KitKat update on Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Google edition of Galaxy S4 and One by HTC within “the next few weeks.” Surprisingly, the Galaxy Nexus launched in 2011 misses the above list, but certainly the update will arrive on the phone soon as one of the features of the platform update is its compatibility with low-end devices.
“Android 4.4 is designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before — including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512MB RAM.”
Here’s a list of key features of Android 4.4 KitKat:
New NFC capabilities
KitKat introduces new open-architecture support for secure NFC-based payment using Host Card Emulation. Now you can tap to pay with Google Wallet or other apps.
Now you can print photos, documents, and web pages to any printer connected to Google Cloud Print, to HP ePrint printers, and to other printers that have apps in the Google Play Store.
Storage access capabilities
Now, Android users can browse and open documents, images, and other files across all of their preferred document storage providers including Cloud or local storage services.
Optimizes Sensors’ power consumption
Android 4.4 introduces hardware sensor batching that reduces power consumed by ongoing sensor activities. As of now, it’s exclusive on Nexus 5 only.
SMS support Messaging App
Google aids SMS support for Hangouts app so that users can send SMS messages without having to switch into another messaging application.
New Immersive mode
With the new immersive mode, your content takes the center stage as it automatically hides all system UI such as the status bar and navigation bar. It’s ideal for rich visual content such as photos, videos, maps, books, and games.
Chromecast and Chromium WebView support
With your Android device and a Chromecast, you can enjoy your favorite online entertainment, from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and Google Play on your HDTV. While, Apps that embed web content now use Chrome to render web components quickly.
Now with Android 4.4, GPU acceleration is available on the Nexus 5, as well as the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2013), and Nexus 10. Any app using RenderScript on a supported device benefits from GPU acceleration, without code changes or recompiling.
New Bluetooth profiles
Android 4.4 support for two new Bluetooth profiles: (1) Bluetooth HID over GATT (HOGP) gives apps a low-latency link with low-power peripheral devices such as mice, joysticks, and keyboards. (2) Bluetooth MAP lets your apps exchange messages with a nearby device, for example car for hands free use or another mobile device.
Support for IR Blasters
Android 4.4 introduces support for built-in IR blasters that let users remotely control nearby TVs, tuners, switches, and other electronic devices.
System-wide closed captioning
Android now supports closed captioning and subtitles, and users can now set global captioning preferences, such as whether to show captions and what language, text size, and text style to use.
Redesigned Downloads app
The Downloads app has been redesigned, giving you new sorting options and list and grid views for all the files you’ve downloaded.
Refreshed Email app
The redesigned Email app has a fresh new look with nested folders, contact photos and better navigation.
Aside, KitKat has also introduced new APIs and tools, and brought the opportunities to developers to streamline their ideas by creating “innovative, responsive, memory-efficient applications.”