Android 4.4 KitKat release date, news and features
1st Nov 2013 | 10:10
What it is and when you can get it
Android 4.4 KitKat is finally official, and for many Android fans, it doesn't disappoint. There are a number of welcome changes and new features, but it will still feel like home for current Android users.
Android 4.4 now allows you to perform many tasks with just your voice. Much like Motorola's Touchless Control, you can say "OK Google" - no need to touch the screen - to perform searches, send messages and more.
One thing Google is particularly proud of is its cleaner and more modern design. Indeed, the phone app, music app and movies app, for example, look a lot prettier than before. But it's not all just looks and no brains as multitasking is claimed to be a lot faster, too.
For Android users who felt left out of the emoji game - iOS users have had a wealth of emoji options built right in - 4.4 KitKat adds a number of fun ones for the kids and adults who haven't quite grown out of their LOL phase.
Android 4.4 KitKat features
The full list is long and exhausting, but there are some new features in Android 4.4 KitKat that you should know about.
Google's revamped phone app now prioritizes contacts based on the people you call the most, while also enabling you to search for nearby places, businesses and contacts.
Caller ID has been given some smarts, too: if you get a call from an unknown number – one which is not in your contacts - Android will attempt to match that number to a business which is listed on Google Maps.
Then there is Chromecast support. That much is expected, but for those of you who are in love with the Google device that allows you to stream online music and videos to your TV.
When you're listening to music, or streaming movies to Chromecast, you'll now get full-screen artwork on your lock screen, sitting behind the skip and pause buttons, and a new 'Immersive mode' hides your status bar and navigation buttons when you're reading an ebook, playing a game or watching a movie.
And as we reported in the rumors leading up to the announcement of Android 4.4, the Hangouts app now handles your SMS and MMS messages along with your video calls. The new Hangouts app also allows you to share your location.
Another rumored feature that has now become fact is printing from your phone or tablet. You can print to printesr connected to Google Cloud Print, to HP ePrint printers, and to other printers that have apps in the Google Play Store.
There are also other add-ons like an IR blaster, low-power audio playback for up to 60 hours of music playback, built-in pedometer, NFC capabilities and improved touchscreen feedback and sensitivity.
You can view the full list on Google's Android 4.4 KitKat page.
Android 4.4 KitKat release date
For those of you wondering whether your Nexus 7, Nexus 4 or Google Play Edition of the Galaxy S4 and HTC One is going to get Android 4.4, be patient.
Google says the aforementioned devices will all get KitKat within the coming weeks. However, the Nexus 5 will ship with the new platform already installed, as we've all expected.
When the update does come, we expect it to be pushed to devices with a notification, or users will have the option of refreshing their software update settings furiously until it arrives.
For a regularly updated list of phones and tablets that will be getting a bite of KitKat check out our detailed Android 4.4 update list.