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Google Announces Android 4.4 Kit Kat, Here’s an Overview of What’s New for Developers

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The time has come and Android 4.4 Kit Kat is here. This morning, Google announced the next version of Android, which brings a whole ton of new features, so let’s quickly go over what all is new for the developers. For the folks who want to know more about the cosmetic changes, don’t worry, we have another post coming up.

Update:  Here is the end-user side of things. More new features than we can even count.

In Kit Kat, Google is attempting to make sure every Android device, even entry-level phones, can run the new OS. By streamlining the every single component, we should experience Android in a way we have never before.

Android 4.4 is designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before — including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512MB RAM.

KitKat streamlines every major component to reduce memory use and introduces new APIs and tools to help you create innovative, responsive, memory-efficient applications.

Kit Kat also brings new platform support for NFC-based transactions through “Host Card Emulation.” This can be used for payments, loyalty programs, transit passes, and other services.

Android 4.4 introduces new platform support for secure NFC-based transactions through Host Card Emulation (HCE), for payments, loyalty programs, card access, transit passes, and other custom services. With HCE, any app on an Android device can emulate an NFC smart card, letting users tap to initiate transactions with an app of their choice — no provisioned secure element (SE) in the device is needed. Apps can also use a new Reader Mode to act as readers for HCE cards and other NFC-based transactions.

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Users can now fully take advantage of Google Cloud Print. By building in printing framework in the OS, you can easily print any type of content over WiFi or Cloud-hosted services.

Android apps can now print any type of content over Wi-Fi or cloud-hosted services such as Google Cloud Print. In print-enabled apps, users can discover available printers, change paper sizes, choose specific pages to print, and print almost any kind of document, image, or file.

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Kit Kat intros a brand new storage access framework which makes it simple for users to open documents, images and other files across all of their document storage providers. The standard UI will give a consistent experience to users no matter what app they are using to store files.

A new storage access framework makes it simple for users to browse and open documents, images, and other files across all of their their preferred document storage providers. A standard, easy-to-use UI lets users browse files and access recents in a consistent way across apps and providers.

Google introduced low power sensors, which will allow the OS to monitor excessive sensor usage, to make sure your device’s power isn’t being consumed unnecessarily.

Android 4.4 introduces platform support for hardware sensor batching, a new optimization that can dramatically reduce power consumed by ongoing sensor activities.

With sensor batching, 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. You can also request immediate delivery of events between batch cycles.

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For you health nuts, Google baked in a step counter and step detector.

Android 4.4 also adds platform support for two new composite sensors — step detector and step counter — that let your app track steps when the user is walking, running, or climbing stairs. These new sensors are implemented in hardware for low power consumption.

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In terms of a major UI overhaul, Google has introduced a translucent system UI. As we have seen in various leaks, the notification bar is now completely transparent, and there is a slight transparency found around the on-screen buttons.

To get the most impact out of your content, you can now use new window styles and themes to request translucent system UI, including both the status bar and navigation bar. To ensure the legibility of navigation bar buttons or status bar information, subtle gradients is shown behind the system bars. A typical use-case would be an app that needs to show through to a wallpaper.

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.

A lot of work has gone under the hood for Kit Kat, which is incredibly important to this milestone release. For more info on all of that, plus a more detailed look at what’s new in Android 4.4, please check out the Android Developers page by following the via down below.

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Via: Android Developers | Google

  • JMonkeYJ

    I had no idea the double-tap and hold to zoom also works in Chrome! Too bad they implemented it in the opposite way from Maps (ie slide down zooms OUT in maps, but IN in Chrome). Facepalm! Still gonna use it tho.

  • Davis

    When does it come out on the nexus 7?

  • droidrazredge

    Well guess the Moto G or Moto X will be the closet thing I ever get to a Nexus phone on Verizon. Makes me wonder if having my unlimited data on Verizon is worth it if I don’t have choices of buying phones I actually like.

  • Steve B

    Where’s Tim242? Have you seen the full-screen Immersive mode in the new 4.4 API? This now officially renders your “on-screen nav is a waste of space argument.”

    • Alan Fortte

      I wondering that too…

  • Jeremy Gross

    verizon doesnt get gs2 or nexus 5 or motomaker, why would they do this!

  • Shane Redman

    So does this NFC change mean that I can essentially spoof any NFC card like a DC Metro card onto my phone?

    • Steve B

      Oh man, that would be awesome. Whenever I need that damn thing, I don’t have it. F’ing Smart Trip.

  • Sanchez19

    Here’s to hoping that the transition to KitKat is as easy (and quick) as possible. I’m happy about all of the improvements to Android and all, but I’m also finding myself holding back hopes that my phone will ever see this update for some reason…
    I guess I’ve just been tricked by Verizon and phone manufacturers too many times to be really excited.

    • Jimmy Baez

      What I do to make animations and transitions seem a bit faster (thanks to MKBHD for pointing it out) is going into Settings, Developer Options, scrolling down to Window Animation Scale, Transition Animation Scale, and Animator Duration Scale and set them all to .5x. It seems to speed up animations and transitions.

  • Matt

    my Nexus 7 is ready for some Kit Kat

  • Steven KC

    er ma gawd

  • kevin_gee

    Man F**k Verzion, as soon as im done with this contract im switching to AT&T or T-mobile. I been wanting to get a nexus phone but with verizon I have no choice.

  • Darrin W. Crenshaw

    I want give this a chance but I just can’t. Simply because LG’s hardware is inside this. I was given the run around when I sent my LG Venice in and apparently they don’t cover their own manufacturer defects (wouldn’t connect wireless and 3G/dropped calls, it worsened after the “repair order” if you want to call it that) – so I was out $250. I would’ve preferred someone like Asus make this because they seem to be the only company that can get Nexus right.

    I’m going to get downvoted but I don’t care. LG has horrible hardware with matching customer service and I hate to see the Nexus brand ruined by it.

    • Steve B

      Your loss. Nobody here cares.

      • Darrin W. Crenshaw

        Except this is a public forum where people share their opinions whether you like it or not.

  • Ted Ockels

    I can’t wait to have translucent icons and the ability to print. Huge upgrade!

  • Shane Redman

    So…can I turn on my D1 and get KitKat???!?!?!!!!

  • J Dub

    Now, will the Nexus 4 get 4.4 before I get the Nexus 5 in the mail?

  • Pratik Holla

    So immersive mode is like expanded mode from custom roms?

    • joejoe5709

      More or less yeah

  • anna willoughby

    Awwww yeeaaah. Time to go back to stock.

  • Guy Meatdrapes

    When will the new nexus 7 recieve kitkat? I’m kinda disappointed that it wont have the translucent status and navbar

    • MikeSaver

      I think it will but you have to turn them on? At least thats how it seemed to be worded to me, it said you had the option to have them translucent

  • jstew182

    So no LED notification light?!

  • yummy

    Snoopy likes KittyKat bars

  • MikeSaver

    Interesting in the Google post, it says the new Hangouts app combines SMS and MMS, whereas they weren’t specific about that when they announced the new app. If true, that’s the best news of the day.

    “And with the new Hangouts app, all of your SMS and MMS messages are together in the same place, alongside your other conversations and video calls, so you’ll never miss a message no matter how your friends send it.”

    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/android-for-all-and-new-nexus-5.html

    • JimmyHACK

      yes, 4.4 allows this.

      • MikeSaver

        Oh, so when my Hangouts app updates on my 4.3 phone, I’ll still have to use the messaging app for group messages until 4.4 comes around?

        • Steve B

          Most likely. Seems to be a 4.4 thing.

  • Jess B

    Now just waiting on the Hangouts update/apk to tide me over until my N5 comes!

  • KRS_Won

    YES!!!!
    KitKat on my Droid X2… Verizon, where did you go?

  • joejoe5709

    Wooohooo! FINALLY!!!

    Devs – please do not forget about the little Gnex that could. Some of use are still stuck in a contract or are holding out for something else. Hopefully we can get a stock ROM out within a couple weeks. I’m going to completely wipe my phone (something I haven’t done in six months) and start from scratch with Kit Kat. I’m very excited.

    • MikeSaver

      Yes! I’m on my GNEX still, planning on going to Moto X (stuck on Verizon).

  • JimmyHACK

    So Hangouts can handle MMS too with 4.4. NICE!

  • Eric

    So the UI is the same on the nexus 7? No transparency?

    • http://hearthstonehungary.hu/ Bence Borovi

      I really hope there’ll be transparency on the Nexus 7 too, else I’ll be really disappointed…
      This should mean ALL 4.4 Devices:
      “To get the most impact out of your content, you can now use new window styles and themes to request translucent system UI, including both the status bar and navigation bar.”

      • Eric

        We will see. I personally don’t like the transparency.

  • Nick

    Are we expecting 4.4 sometime today on at least the new Nexus devices and then the rest of them in the coming days?

  • meijin3

    So is there an official ROM for my Nexus 4 yet?

  • Irish Cream

    my body is ready

  • MikeSaver

    ok

  • Chris Schmucker

    Someone summon Baldwinguy77! Time to start coding!

    • AnotherAndroidKid

      With no GNex source though, i’m wondering what he’ll be able to do. Shiny has been awesome since Pete quit BB.

  • Gustavo

    These google sons of bitches won’t be releasing 4.4 for Gnex
    https://support.google.com/nexus/answer/3468085

    • Franklin Ramsey

      Yeah, that doesn’t make sense to me. I realize it is EOL, but why make a big deal about ending fragmentation and then not bring it to a device that could make use of the memory optimization.

  • zombiewolf115

    my white nexus 4 is ready <3

  • Colton

    galaxy s4 will get kitkat…Verizon….please….

    • Godzilla

      yeah, in like 4 months

      • Colton

        I know :/ well I was impressed with the 4.3 update coming as quickly as it did so I will stay hopeful! for the coming months…

        • Franklin Ramsey

          They had to release 4.3 for it quickly. It supported the Gear and they wanted more support quick to try to increase sales.

        • JimmyHACK

          ya 4.4 will not be fast rushed like the 4.3 one at all

    • joejoe5709

      Major updates take time. Like Godzilla said, it’ll be at least 4 months. The Galaxy S5 will probably come with Touchwiz Kit Kat.

      • http://people.ign.com/mrfrodo24 MrFrodo24

        Bet Touchwiz takes up more RAM than just KitKat.

  • http://people.ign.com/mrfrodo24 MrFrodo24

    The memory footprint cut-down is huge. It’s clear that they want to continue to streamline the updates for Android and get devices close to the same version. In the next year or so, people that still have Gingerbread will probably upgrade to a newer phone (maybe even the N5), and those who currently have ICS may finally get up to speed given these enhancements. Obviously OEM’s will have to do their part, but I’m just glad that we can always count on Google to lead the way.

    • Franklin Ramsey

      Google isn’t really leading the way. They are allowing for lower spec devices to get the latest OS, but they don’t care about older devices just like the OEMs don’t. If Google wanted to lead the way, Allow 4.4 on devices on older devices they control that could support it. The Galaxy Nexus would benefit from a reduced memory footprint but it is EOL so no more support.

  • Franklin Ramsey

    But no love for the Galaxy Nexus, even though it supports devices with as little as 512 MB ram?

    • joejoe5709

      Especially those on Verizon with a Gnex, the dev community should have a stock image out in a week or two. I think I’m going to take a break from ROM’s and go stock for awhile. Kit Kat looks awesome.

    • zurginator

      Gnex went EOL…. Google supports devices for 18 months.

      • Franklin Ramsey

        I understand that, but why have a tag line for Android for all, and say that lower end devices can support it, when they don’t even support their lower end devices.

        • Adam Johnston

          There is actually an issue with the hardware internals (specifically the Texas Instruments processor) in the Galaxy Nexus not being able to support the new OS.

          • AnotherAndroidKid

            Not doubting you, but do you have a link on that? I’d like to know more.

          • Adam Johnston

            They kinda talk about it over at the XDA Galaxy Nexus Forum. http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2431091&page=20

          • AnotherAndroidKid

            thanks

          • Franklin Ramsey

            That isn’t actually true. The rumor is that a new driver would need be created for the processor, but TI is out of the mobile business. The Official response was that Google doesn’t support devices further than 18 months.

          • Adam Johnston

            thanks for the clarification on that. The XDA link i posted below did mention the driver issue as well.

        • zurginator

          It’s not a question of them not supporting lower-end devices, it’s a question of them not supporting OLD devices. There is a difference. Google has always been explicit about their 18-month support period.

          • Franklin Ramsey

            Google doesn’t explicitly state it, they say that is the standard for MFGs. I understand where they are coming from, but it is sad to think 4.4 won’t come to it.

  • Steven Berger

    All over websites, etc. it says that 4.4 will help fragmentation, while this is true, since it has a bunch of optimizations that will run on low-end devices the problem that Android has with fragmentation does have to do with having low end requirements for updates, but the main problem is carriers and manufacturers not supporting the devices anymore. Chances are whether this runs on low-end devices does not matter, since most of those devices will not get the update unless they are rooted and a developer provides a ROM.

    • Franklin Ramsey

      It seems even Google dropped support for the Galaxy Nexus, so why update old devices? If they aren’t even supporting their old devices, why would others?

      • Steven Berger

        I made the same comment on Phandroid’s blog, someone made a good point that it is not to bring old devices like a Nexus One back from the dead, but to allow future low-end devices to start with 4.4 instead of gingerbread….although I have no idea why the Galaxy Nexus won’t get 4.4

        • brkshr

          There is an official statement somewhere that states the GNex is out of the 18 month update window that Google and manufacturers have kind of agreed on.

        • Franklin Ramsey

          I get that they wouldn’t want to support older devices forever, but releasing 4.4 with a tag line of Android for all, and then not updating some of your own devices just seems wrong.

        • blah

          One word. Verizon.

  • http://petervideos.com/ Peter Mansour

    ITS HAPPENING

  • Godzilla

    I want the hangouts update released so i can try it out, come on google

    • Steve B

      This

    • wtm1417

      Yeah what ever happened to it being released “Today” at the google+ announcement

  • Shamu

    I’m eating so many Kitkat right now!

  • Ralph

    MMS support in hangouts..

    “With the new Hangouts app, all of your SMS and MMS messages are together in the same app, alongside your other conversations and video calls.”

    • Justin W

      I wonder if this includes Voice…

    • Ian Smith

      for some reason this seemed blatantly obvious to me from the start

      • Jordan

        I think people were hoping it would be MMS/SMS with Google Voice(doesn’t support MMS). I’m fairly certain this is just SMS/MMS with your carrier.

  • Steve B

    No more secure element in 4.4. Goodbye Verizon blocking Google Wallet.

    • abqnm

      And even the ability to use the NFC as a reader, allowing for it to act as a mobile payment terminal. Seems like now we will be able to not only pay with NFC, but actually receive payments with NFC, assuming app support. I see Square integrating this for sure.

      • Steve B

        Yead, kudos to Google. They’re actually making NFC useful now.

      • aQuickBit

        So imagine you want to buy something on Craigslist. The seller says that they will not accept PayPal because…well…its PayPal. He says only cash. You meet the guy at the nearest WalMart parking lot and start chatting it up. You see that he has an HTC One. “Hey just so there is an ‘official’ receipt for this, want to use NFC pay?”

        “Yeah dude that is a really good idea. It’ll protect both of us”

        *tap backs of phones together…high pitched ping*

        “Awesome, the payment went through. Thanks for doing business!”

        *you load up your car with that industrial fruit smoothie machine and drive off into the sunset*

    • kixofmyg0t

      You mean goodbye Google Wallet altogether. the Nexus 7FHD isn’t even supported. How the heck does a Nexus not get support!?!

      • Alex Hutchins

        I think you misunderstand. In 4.4, you no longer need a secure element in order to use tap to pay in Google Wallet, or any app for that matter.

  • Philip J. Fry

    This has been a wonderful day.

  • M3D1T8R

    Cool, about time it was made official.

  • AnotherAndroidKid

    I noticed the release on the google blog did not mention galaxy nexus getting it in coming days.

    • palomosan

      Actually it didn’t mentioned any of the Galaxy Nexus, nor the Verizon, Sprint or the GSM version.

    • zurginator

      Gnex went EOL last month.

      • AnotherAndroidKid

        Damn.

        A little surprised. The reason to have a nexus is to keep getting the update. Esp one that claims is made for slower older devices.

        • zurginator

          Google has always stated their devices receive 18 months of official support. It was true with the Nexus One, Nexus S, and Galaxy Nexus. It will be true with the Nexus 4/5/7/10.

          • AnotherAndroidKid

            Thanks. Being VZ, the GNex was my first.

  • palomosan

    This is basically a clean and speed up update just like 4.2, I still think 5.0 will bring more changes.

    • Godzilla

      i think 4.4 will help OG Nexus 7 and other Nexus devices who are showing age A LOT

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    in hangouts you select how you want to contact the person. Not what i thought it would be but i’m not complaining.

    • Godzilla

      so you click on the name and it pops up a menu of choices?

    • Chris Schmucker

      Well, its a step in the right direction

    • anna willoughby

      Yaaaay I’m glad it’s nice and simple like that. I was a bit concerned about how they were going to implement it.

    • Trueblue711

      Better than forcing you to use Hangouts even though both parties have Android and Hangouts installed on their phones.

  • Droidzilla

    This is a good day. I like today.

    • Godzilla

      and we still have candy coming

      • MikeCiggy

        Trick or treat…

        • LionStone

          Oh we got our treat alright! :-)

    • PuttsMoBilesiCit

      Picture says it all.

      • Wilsonian

        First I messed around and got a triple double…

        And I didn’t even have to use my A-K…

        And then Google finally drops the Nexus 5? You d**n right it was a good day!

        • Colin Huber

          I respect this.

    • judygreeson212

      If you think Richard`s story is cool…, last week my brothers
      friend who’s a single mum worked and got paid $8425 sitting there a twenty
      hour week from their apartment and there classmate’s half-sister`s neighbour
      done this for three months and got over $8425 part time from their mac.
      applie the tips available at this link… http://www.bay35.ℂℴm

  • Godzilla

    My OG Nexus 7 is ready

    • iNomNomAwesome

      My body is ready

    • veeman

      Your Nexus 7 is an original gangster?

  • Sprint phanboi

    Sprint Rules

    • Godzilla

      LOL, right.

  • BobtheGreatII

    I’m actually really excited for the ability to print… and I’m not sure why.

    • Jon

      People still print? ;)

      • anna willoughby

        Actually, yes. Even as a web designer, I find myself occasionally needing to print.