After countless leaks, rumours & speculation and even a few teases from Google, the newest iteration of Google's mobile operating system, codenamed KitKat, has finally been unveiled.
As with previous versions of Android, Google have released the new operating system alongside the latest Nexus device. Manufactured by LG, the Google Nexus 5 is the first device to be supplied with Android 4.4. Useragents from the Android 4.4 operating system have been showing up in the 51Degrees database since early October.
Two versions of the Nexus 5 are now available on the Google Play store, however, accelerated sales have caused stocks of the 16GB version to run low on the US and German stores. Estimated dispatch time of the new device is now up at around 2-3 weeks, showing supply may not have fit the large demand.
Has Google failed to learn from previous Nexus launches, where customer demand outweighed the hardware supply? Or could this be an artificially created shortage for marketing purposes? Regardless of stock shortage, it is safe to say that the Nexus devices continue to be hugely popular.
Android 4.4 features and improvements
Moving swiftly to the new mobile OS, Android 4.4 brings us several new features, including:
- New aesthetics - Including: Translucent menu bar, new transition effects, full-screen wallpapers, new emoji keyboard and automatic hiding of status bar and navigation buttons when an app is full screen.
- Phone feature upgraded - Contacts are now prioritised by popularity, direct contact/location search included in the phone app and an improved caller ID that searches the web for unknown caller ID's.
- Improved Google Hangout support - Integrated instant messaging with SMS and MMS as well as allowing users to share location and even animated .GIF's.
- Google Now improvements - Users can now voice search, send a text, get directions or play a song by saying "OK Google" at the home screen. It's not yet clear if this feature will only be available for specific devices or will be included on every Android 4.4 device.
- Native support for cloud printing - This allows users to print from their mobile device through any printer connected to Google cloud print, HP ePrint and via other printers with mobile app support.
- New sensor support - Both the step detector and step counter are now available for use, allowing users to track their walking, running or climbing activities via relevant apps. The Nexus 5 already offers the two new sensors and Google is working with other chipset partners to bring them to new 4.4 devices as soon as possible.
- Enhanced bluetooth support for Message Access Profile - This allows bluetooth enabled cars to exchange messages with Android devices. Native support for IR blasters and new APIs for developers to utilise IR functionality have also been added.
- New screen recording utility - Similar to the screenshot function, screen recording lets users capture video whilst they use their device. This is the stored as a MP4 file, providing the ability to create engaging content such as walkthroughs, tutorials and guides.
Google's Nexus 5 is already being shipped with Android 4.4 and the KitKat OS will soon be available on the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 as well as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the near future.
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