Google unveiled the Nexus 5 along with Android 4.4 KitKat today, and the latest version of Android comes with a host of new features.
One of the key changes that have been included in Android 4.4 KitKat is a new immersive mode which lets you focus on the task at hand while hiding all background elements, like the status bar and navigation buttons. There is also a new screen recording utility that allows you to record your screen, and saves the resulting video in a MP4 file format.
Another key feature is voice recognition. In Android 4.4 KitKat, users can just say” OK Google” and launch the voice search feature. This works when a user is in the home screen or in Google Now. Essentially, it includes functionality that is first seen in the Moto X, but at a software level.
Google Now will also see contextual cards, which will be added in the coming weeks. Memory optimization is also better on Android 4.4 KitKat, with Google mentioning that it has reduced memory consumption and the way background services run. What this means is that Android 4.4 KitKat will work smoothly on devices that have 512 MB of RAM, which is what a majority of affordable Android devices in emerging countries like China and India come with. It is clear that Google wants to tackle the issue of fragmentation, and by including these changes in the latest version of Android, is ensuring that low-end devices do not get left out.
A new document framework means that you can access files from your cloud storage accounts faster on your device. You can access your Quickoffice files and us the same UI to save the file onto Google Drive, for instance.
When you’re listening to music, you will now be able to see full-screen album-art, and dedicated controls on the lockscreen give you the ability to play, pause, or seek from the lockscreen. The same functionality is also added to movies that you stream to Chromecast. You will also be able to listen to audio longer, thanks to the low-power audio playback feature that tunnels audio digital signal processor instead of using the system processor.
Hangouts now collates all your SMS and MMS in a single interface, and includes threaded conversation views so that it is easier for you to track your conversations. Furthermore, Android now supports Bluetooth Message Access Profile, which means that devices on Android 4.4 KitKat will be able to communicate with more in-car entertainment systems. Bluetooth HID over GATT allows you to connect your Android device to mice, joysticks, and keyboards.
In the camera segment, a new feature called HDR+ is introduced, which allows you to take a lot of images in a burst mode setting. Android also has a unified standard for dealing with IR blasters so that you can use your Android device as a remote for your TV. Earlier, manufacturers had to resort to eternal solutions to enable this feature in devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One.
Android also includes functionality for sensors like step counters, which means that it can interface with wearable devices better. Google Wallet has also been retooled, and there is a new architecture that deals with how NFC transactions are conducted. Google Wallet will now come with an Instant Buy feature that allows you to buy content more easily.
Google has mentioned that devices like the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 will be able to make the switch to Android 4.4 KitKat in the coming weeks. A device that has been noticeably left out is the Galaxy Nexus, with Google mentioning that the device will not receive the latest version of Android.