After countless leaks and accidental listing Google has finally taken the wraps off the successor of Nexus 4, the Nexus 5. The smartphone brings the latest hardware configuration at an attractive price point. But, that’s not the only highlight of this device. It gets the next Android OS version 4.4 (code named KitKat), which has got some new features as well as a refined user interface. Let’s take a look at the interesting features of the Android 4.4-
There aren’t major changes when it comes to design, but some animation effects added in the OS makes it look different and better. The status and navigation bar are transparent on the home and lock screens.
Android 4.4 KitKat does away with the persistent status bar (at the top) and navigation bar (at the bottom, only in devices where hardware navigation buttons are not present) with the ‘immersive mode’, so that you can focus to read books, watch movies or play games. To bring them back, a simple swipe from edge of the screen is needed.
These capabilities can also be harnessed app developers for their apps.
Optimized for Performance
With Android 4.1 JellyBean Operating System, Google introduced ‘Project Butter’ to make the OS smoother and responsive through hardware optimizations. Now, it’s joined by ‘Project Svelte’ which aims to make Android KitKat run smoothly on devices with as little as 512 MB RAM. It would also result in smoother multitasking experience and better touchscreen response. This is achieved by both hardware and software optimizations, and even app developers will be allowed to make these software optimizations on their apps.
This would prove to be very useful for older devices as well as entry level devices.
The dialer in KitKat will prioritize your contacts based on who you contact the most. It will also let you search for contacts of nearby businesses or even colleagues, if Google Apps is being used.
Another useful feature is that whenever an unknown number calls you, if it’s a local business registered on Google Maps, then you can see who is calling you. This means, you don’t have to rely on third party apps, however, if it’s a personal number or not a local business, then you’re out of luck.
Hangouts + SMS Integration
Google updated its chatting app Google Talk to Hangouts back in May in a bid to unify the chatting experience across all its services and devices. Now, the app will add one more feature to its arsenal, it can also send and receive SMS/ MMS messages. This means, instead of wandering to different apps, all your messages are available in a single app.
Hangouts app itself have received some new features such as ability to share your location and sending animated GIFs. If you aren’t comfortable with hangouts being default SMS app, then you can use any other app as well.
One stop access to local and cloud storage
We know that it’s a big pain to manage our documents across several devices, that’s why we turn towards cloud storage services. However, if you’re using several cloud storage services, then again you face the same problem as you will have different kind of files for different reason on them. With Android 4.4, you will be able to access both local and cloud storage services (even multiple accounts) from single location whether it’s documents, images or other files. This would make it easier to open or save files on any of them.
Always Listen mode
One of the killer features of the Moto X was its touchless control feature allowing one to ask a query to Google Now without even touching the phone, just by saying the hot word “Ok Google”. The same capability has made its way to the latest version of Android allowing users to focus on what they’re doing and simply initiate any action on the phone by saying it.
Sadly, at the time of launch, this functionality would be applicable on Nexus 5 only. However, company has promised that it would be coming to other devices as well.
Support for new Communication Protocols
In Android JellyBean, Google introduced Bluetooth Smart/ LE (Low Energy) profiles to Bluetooth 4.0, which is helpful to connect with wearable like smartwatch. This time, Google has added two new profiles for Bluetooth namely HID over GATT- low latency link between low power devices such as keyboard, joysticks, etc. and MAP (Message Access Profile)- apps can exchange messages with a nearby device.
It also gets a Wi-Fi TDLS (Tunneled Direct Link Setup), which enables seamless transfer of data or media streaming between two devices on the same network. This means that the smartphone can connect to TV, gaming device, projector, etc. without burdening the network or router.
Many flagship devices like Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One supports IR blaster to control the TV, but they required a dedicated app. In Android 4.4, Google has added support for IR blasters natively.
NFC haven’t been able to gain much recognition neither from industry nor users, even though its capable of doing so many things. For paying through NFC from Google Wallet, the devices required support from telecom carriers to get the access to secure element present on the SIM cards, which wasn’t provided. So, Google has managed to bypass them and now enables the payment, loyalty cards, transit pass, etc. virtually by using HCE (Host card emulation) technology.
Apart from the aforementioned useful features, there are many more features added in the Android 4.4. Notable being native printing support for Google Cloudprint or HP ePrint enabled printers, Sensor batching mechanism to get data from several sensors together and thus saving battery, pedometer functionality (helpful for health tracking apps like Moves, Runtastic, etc.), and much more.
Are you excited about the newest version of Android? Share with us the feature you liked the most in the comments below.