Google Launches New Version of Android: “KitKat” 4.4
Every year now, we’re used to Google launching a new version of Android – in some cases, two – but in the last couple of years, not a lot has changed. Since Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich hit the scene, we’ve been treated to tasty revisions, rather than fresh new desserts. In fact, we’ve had three flavors of Jelly Bean so far and now, it’s time for Android 4.4, KitKat. In this version of Android, Google refined things yet again; but on the whole, this is the biggest change since Android 4.1 last year.
What’s so different? Well, a lot of things really, which you can take a look at on Google’s own website. However, you can read about some of the major changes below.
Strong Ties to Google Now
Google Now becomes part of your homescreen in Android 4.4 – which has also seen changes. All you need do is swipe right to get to Google Now; allowing you to take a look at your cards and even perform a voice search by saying “OK Google,” anywhere on your homescreen. Bringing search closer to the heart of Android is obviously a suggestion that Google is looking for so Android can become more of its own; it really makes things easier with Android 4.4.
Out With the Holo, in With the Mono
The Holo theme that debuted in Android 4.0 was stylish, with blacks and blues that were minimal and easy to use. However, Android 4.4 does away with the blue and brings in white as the main accent color here. This gives users white on black icons in the status bar and white on black listings in the menus. It’s a subtle change, but once you get used to it, it makes a lot of sense. Besides, not everyone was a fan of the blue black of Holo.
Another subtle change is the status bar and buttons on the homescreen. These are non-transparent, allowing your wallpaper to truly fill the display and the rest of the homescreen to blend in with it. This is an especially nice touch if you’re constantly changing your wallpapers from your favorite pet to your glorious new beer tap equipment on display on your basement bar!
One of the bigger changes in Android 4.4 is one we’ll have to wait a little bit to really see. In KitKat, developers are given the opportunity to create immersive apps by getting rid of the status bar and softkeys when they’re not needed. This is great for apps like Netflix, YouTube and of course eBook readers. Hopefully, you’ll soon be able to read a book from your Kindle library and not be bothered by any parts of the UI.
Already, apps like Google Play Books take advantage of this and Google Play Music takes over the entirety of your lockscreen, which is a real nice touch.
Subtle, yet Noticeable
All-in-all, Google has developed this latest update to Android with subtle changes that lead to significant differences. Optimization has been applied throughout the OS, the theme has been changed up once more, and apps can now take better advantage of these great displays. On the surface, there might not be much to Android 4.4, but scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a lot to love.