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Android 4.4 KitKat: features, tips and tricks

Android 4.4 KitKat coming to HTC One Nexus Edition soon - other Nexus devices implicated, HTC Sense version to follow

It seems that trying to get a precise date for Google's Android KitKat update on most any device is like trying to draw blood from a stone. Google has only said that existing Nexus devices, including the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, will be getting the software "soon" and hinted that it'll be available quicker for these devices than those of third-party OEMs. We should jolly well think so too.
There may be some hope afterall, though. According to GottaBeMobile, HTC revealed its plans to update the HTC One Google Play/Nexus Edition running stock Android, to 4.4 KitKat "within 15 days of its (KitKat's) unveiling," that would place a rollout sometime this week. You can bet your bottom dollar that it won't be coming out on the HTC One Nexus Edition alone, so either expect the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 to be boosted at the same time, or just before.
Chiming in with HTC's revelation, Twitter user LlabTooFer, someone with established close connections to HTC and a reliable track record, tweeted that the Google Edition KitKat software (for the HTC One) is "almost finished," and that the "sense version is under early test."
So, don't expect the update for the regular HTC One and its comrades too soon, but it is on the way.

Android 4.4 KitKat: Some Tasty Tips & Tricks

If you’ve already picked up a Nexus 5 –– Congrats! –– it’s an awesome phone, perhaps even one of the best Android handsets of the year. The specs are great, the hardware is plentiful, it runs the latest build of Android (4.4) and it costs just £299 off contract. What’s not to like?
So what about Android 4.4 KitKat? Below are some handy tips and tricks that’ll ensure you get the most out of your new handset. We’ll be adding more as and when we discover them. But for now here’s our current pick. 

Get “Okay, Google” working in UK 

Google’s always-on Google Now feature –– the one where you say, “Okay, Google” –– for some reason does not work when you have your handset’s language settings on English UK.
Why this is the case is unclear. Fortunately, there’s a work a round. All you have to do is go into Google Now –– swipe left from the Home screen –– go into Settings (three dots in the bottom right corner), then Voice and Select Language and reset it to English US. “Okay, Google” will now work from inside Google Now and from any of the Nexus 5’s homescreen.

Save Battery with Smarter Location settings

More and more applications want to know where you are and what you’re doing. All of this location pinpointing requires GPS, and that in turn warrants juice from your Nexus 5’s battery. Google knows this and has attempted something of a workaround inside Android 4.4 called Battery Saving GPS Mode.
Battery Saving GPS Mode essentially minimises the number of reference points used to derive your exact location and thus saves you unnecessary battery wastage. To enable this go to: Settings > Location > Mode, and enable Battery Saving.
For pinpoint accuracy, as and when you need it, go back into the Settings and select High Accuracy.

Turn off NFC

Not using NFC? Turn it off.

Check out Google’s Android KitKat animation

Hidden away inside Android 4.4’s menu settings is a little KitKat animation. It doesn’t do anything other than let you spin the KitKat logo but it is quite cool, especially for bragging rights –– no one will have KitKat for quite some time unless they have a Nexus.
To locate this little animation, head to Settings > About Phone > and then triple tap on Android Version. The KitKat animation boots up shortly thereafter. To get back to the Home screen just tap the Home button. 

Sony reveals Android 4.4. KitKat update roadmap

Sony has revealed its plans to introduce Android 4.4 KitKat to existing Xperia devices.
In a post on the company's SonyMobile blog, Sony said, "We've seen lots of questions on our Android upgrade roadmap and equally, we have lots to tell you, so here's a note on just that..."
Sony clarified that several of its existing Xperia handsets would be making the jump to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean shortly.
"We're pleased to tell you that well start rolling Android 4.3 for Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia SP, Xperia Z Ultra and Xperia Z1 from next month."
The Xperia T, Xperia TX and Xperia V will also be upgraded on the same schedule.
Somewhat frustratingly, Sony hasn't specified exactly when its devices will get KitKat 4.4, only revealing that the Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia Z Ultra and Xperia Z1 will be making the jump.
Instead of a precise date, or even a vague one, Sony has simply stated that users should "stay tuned to the social newsroom and @SonyMobileNews," where the company will update us with more specific details "as things progress."
Still, at least something is happening.

Android 4.4.1 update already in the works

Evidence has emerged suggesting Google is already hard at work on an Android 4.4.1 update patch for its latest mobile software.
On Monday 4 November a member of the XDA developer forums discovered some code for Android 4.4.1 intended to disable the translucent menu bars for the Nexus 10 tablet as apprently Google is having some trouble implementing this feature on the larger tablet device.
Today, November 7, another bit of info has emerged to add weight to the Android 4.4.1 idea as tech blog Myce reports that an "inattentive Google employee" has revealed the build under development. Myce spotted the KOT31B build in Google's Chromium issue tracker.
"The issue was first marked with the Google-Restrict-View label which makes it only readable to Google employees but the label was later removed," Myce reports, "The build is only a week old and could be the sign we’ll see a 4.4.1 version."
The "K" aligns with the version name for KitKat or Key Lime Pie (KitKat's earlier development name, Jelly Bean builds had a "J"), while the T31 indicates the build is from October 31.

Android 4.4’s Advanced Photo Editor detailed

Android 4.4 features an advanced photo-editing suite that Google has optimised for use on both smartphones and tablets. Google software engineer Nicolas Roard took to YouTube to detail the application aboard a Nexus 7 slate.
With KitKat’s Photo Editor you can apply predefined looks, alter the geometry, saturation and applied filters. But perhaps best of all – Photo Editor is non-destructive. Which means no matter what you do to an image you can always revert back to the original one.
“The editor is pretty powerful, works on tablet and phones, handles full-size image processing, zooming, re-edit, image exports, user presets, etc. This new version also adds more powerful specialized tools (graduated filters, per-channel saturation controls, local adjustments, etc.),” wroteRoard in a Google+ post
You can also export an image from Photo Editor in different sizes and file formats. Photo Editor is now shipping inside ASOP, according to Google.
Check out the demonstration below: 

What else is new inside Android 4.4 KitKat?

Android 4.4 is officially here alongside and inside the Google Nexus 5. Ahead of launch there was plenty of speculation about both the handset and Google’s confectionary-baiting software update. So what’s new inside the latest build of Android 4.4? Quite a bit as it goes… Google has reworked the UX, added in better support for low-end hardware, and tweaked many of Android’s core elements. 
Here are some of Android 4.4's best bits...

Better Visuals

Applications and games can now use the entirety of the display with 4.4, meaning no more notifications bar and no more battery icon. Just full screen applications and games. Android’s UI now stays hidden whenever you’re interacting with content. 

“To make sure that users always have easy, consistent access to system UI from full-screen immersive mode, Android 4.4 supports a new gesture — in immersive mode, an edge swipe from the top or bottom of the screen now reveals the system UI,” said Google.


Like Apple’s M7 coprocessor, Android KitKat now wants to know more about what you do and where you are. To enable this Google has enabled hardware sensor batching inside 4.4, a feature that makes sensors far less power hungry. 
“Android works with the device hardware to collect and deliver sensor events efficiently in batches, rather than individually as they are detected. This lets the device's application processor remain in a low-power idle state until batches are delivered. You can request batched events from any sensor using a standard event listener, and you can control the interval at which you receive batches.” 


This is the big one –– Android 4.4 will run on handsets with just 512MB of RAM. That’s right, people: KitKat will theoretically run on the HTC Hero, a handset that came out almost three years ago! 
KitKat streamlines every major component to reduce memory use and introduces new APIs and tools to help developers create more memory-efficient applications.
“OEMs building the next generation of Android devices can take advantage of targeted recommendations and options to run Android 4.4 efficiently, even on low-memory devices. Dalvik JIT code cache tuning, kernel samepage merging (KSM), swap to zRAM, and other optimizations help manage memory.”

Cloud printing

It’s not a deal breaker by any means but you can now print using Google Cloud Print via your Android 4.4-powered handset and/or tablet. Google has opened up the APIs to developers, so expect support inside most of the big name apps inside Google Play very soon. 
“Android 4.4 introduces native platform support for printing, along with APIs for managing printing and adding new types of printer support. The platform provides a print manager that mediates between apps requesting printing and installed print services that handle print requests.”
“The print manager provides shared services and a system UI for printing, giving users consistent control over printing from any app. The print manager also ensures the security of content as it's passed across processes, from an app to a print service.”

Faster Multitasking

Android 4.4 features a raft of back-end tweaks aimed at improving the overall performance and speed with which you handset computes tasks. Google has further optimised memory inside Android 4.4 –– it can now run on just 512MB of RAM –– and touchscreen response is better, too. 
The end result is a smoother UX, faster loading applications and a significant bump in multitasking performance. Android was pretty decent at running multiple apps before –– say, Spotify and Chrome and email. With KitKat it'll be even better. 

Smart Caller ID

Inside Android you can sync you contacts list with a myriad of social networks and account types, including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Google Mail, Google+. This sync pulls your contacts' details across and links their profile picture to their name in your contacts app, thus giving you a tidy, useful, contacts list complete with profile pictures.
KitKat takes things further. When you receive a call from an unknown number –– like a business or a pizza delivery guy, for instance –– KitKat will scan Google Maps for an appropriate image and, if it can find one, use it for the caller ID. The idea is to give you a better idea of who is calling you.

The “OK Google” command

The Moto X could do it and now so can Android KitKat. Navigate to Settings, turn the feature on and say “Okay Google” and watch Google Now magically appear before your eyes on your handset's display –– no touching required. 
You can ask it about the weather, for directions, theatre times, and sports scores. Or, you can get it to play a certain song, text a friend, or make a phone call.

Hangouts is the new SMS

In a bid to bolster its position against the likes of WhatsApp, Viber, and BBM –– now available on Android and iOS –– Google has repurposed its Hangouts application to feature SMS and MMS messages, as well as IM threads from your Google contacts.
You can even share your location with the new Hangouts and send animated GIFs.  

Screen recording

Screen-grabs are one thing but having the ability to capture real-time video of what’s happening on your droid’s display is another thing entirely. With Android KitKat this is now a reality, and all saved content is stored on your device as an MP4 file.  
“By default, the utility selects a resolution equal or close to the device's display resolution in the current orientation. When you are done recording, you can share the video directly from your device or pull the MP4 file to your host computer for post-production.”

Built in support for IR blasters

“Android 4.4 introduces platform support for built-in IR blasters, along with a new API and system service that let you create apps to take advantage them.”
That means all new Android handsets, providing they have latent IR functionality, can be used to control a myriad of devices including your HDTV and stereo. 
And because the API is open to developers there’s likely to be all kinds of IR Blaster features added to current and upcoming applications and content inside Google Play.
That’s it for now, but we’ll update this piece with more information once we’ve had a play with Android 4.4 properly. In the mean time why not check out all the Nexus 5 details –– it’s a god damn monster! 

Android 4.4 KitKat update coming to Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 "very soon"

OK, so Android 4.4. isn’t coming to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – but other Nexus devices won’t miss out. As Google’s senior vice president Sundar Pichai writes on the official Google blog, it will be coming to the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 “soon”. “Android 4.4, KitKat, which comes on Nexus 5, will also soon be available on Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks,” he writes.
Cult of Android predict that those with a Nexus (what’s the plural of Nexus – Nexi? Nexuses? Nexon?) won’t have too long to wait. “Just think of those with other devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC, and LG who will likely wait months for it.”, it reports Dave Matthews Band tickets and Aerosmith concerts and Radiohead concert

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