Friday, November 8, 2013

Android 4.4 Kitkat overview/impressions.

Hey guys! If you have read my previous article on the Google Nexus 5, I will be using the same style of writing and if you haven't read it, go ahead, I am sure you will like it!

Google announced that the next version of Android (4.4) will be named Kitkat around the start of September. Everybody was in for a shock as generally the names of Android versions were of  generic desserts and not brands. Also, it was pretty much confirmed at that time that Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie was going to be the next version of Android. But, hey, this is Google!

The Good:
  • Lower Specifications required: Usually when a new operating system comes out, it needs more hardware power and old/legacy devices are left behind. But, this is not the case with Kitkat. Google made sure that almost every Android device would be capable of running 4.4(Noticed how I emphasized on 'capable'? This means that it is not compulsory for the device manufacturer to update it. I will give an example later in this article) 
  • UI changes: Kitkat brings the biggest UI change to Android since Ice cream Sandwich(4.0) ICS brought the 'holo' user interface and much polish that was needed to Android back in the day. 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 were pretty much identical visually except for a few minor changes. This dissapointed a major portion of Android users(including me). Kitkat gives us a redesigned Phone application, translucent navigation bar and notification bar and many many more UI changes. 
  • Immersive mode: Imagine this and tell me if it sounds familiar. You are playing a game and a text is received. You have to now close/minimize the application to open your notification drawer and THEN decide if it is important and you want to read it or not. With immersive mode, you just swipe down from the top of your screen and BOOM! There are your notifications! Now, if you think it is not important, just close the drawer and continue with your game!

  • Better Google Now integration: Google Now was introduced in 4.1 Jellybean. It gives you information you need (like weather, traffic, places nearby, sports scores and many more things)even before you search. It was so useful, many people considered it the best product of 2012. With Kitkat, you just have to swipe right at your left-most homescreen and there is Google Now! Previously, to get to Google Now, you had to swipe up from your navigation bar and it works now as well. Also, as your homescreen itself is Google Now, when you are at any page, just say 'Okay Google' and voice search gets activated.
  • IR blaster support
  • Wireless Printing support: If you have a HP e-print printer or any other printer that has an app on the Google Play Store, you can print from it wirelessly. This also works with printers connected to Google Cloud Print.  

  • Phone App improvements:  The new phone app automatically prioritizes your contacts based on the people you talk to the most. You can also search for nearby places and businesses, your contacts, or people in your Google Apps domain. Also, whenever you get a call from a phone number not in your contacts, your phone will look for matches from businesses with a local listing on Google Maps.
                     4.0-4.3 dialer                     4.4 dialer                    

The Bad: 
  • No Kitkat for Galaxy Nexus: This is very ironical to me that Google told Kitkat would be able to run on older hardware but it will not update the Galaxy Nexus.. Seriously, Google?? -_-
  • No multiple widgets on lockscreen: I missed this feature even on  previous versions of Android. I don't know why Google doesn't come up with this. Basically, the idea is to use the extra free space in lockscreens. As you can see in the screenshot, I can only add upto 1 widget per page and even if there is tons of extra space, I have to use another page to add another widget.
  • No icon pack support in stock launcher: If you have read my article on 'Launchers and icon packs', you probably know that I love custom icon packs. But if I want to use an icon pack, I have to download a launcher first. I know this is a feature of custom launchers but incorporating it into the stock launcher doesn't hurt anyone, does it? Afterall, that is the greatness of open source!
  • Offline speech recognition: Offline speech recognition is pretty good if you are not connected to the internet and want to speak out a text message. But, it only works  in certain languages and if you don't want to use English(US), you have to download a language first. I use English(India) for voice search and Google Now but if I want to download that and use it offline, it isn't available! 
I know that the 'bad's I wrote weren't as much bad as 'missing features'.

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  1. Good job, nice review there, btw may I asked you something? does google nexus 5 support adobe flash player? 'cause I wanted to play game on my facebook? it's FarmVille2 :D
    btw thanks again, see ya......

    1. Thanks! The Nexus 5 can run flash player but not officially. You can download the past AOSP browser from the internet and view in desktop mode. Then you can play games like farmville. Same is the case with any android device. Hope I helped! :)