Android kitkat reviews

Android kitkat reviews DEFAULT

Everyone was expecting Key Lime Pie to serve as the delicious moniker for the next version of Android. Google surprised us all by bucking tradition and releasing Android under the name KitKat.

Version started life as Ice Cream Sandwich, but the last three decimal additions came under theJelly Bean banner. This new version was obviously deemed different enough to snag a new nickname, but not different enough to merit a jump to version

It's no longer the latest version of Android, however, with Android Lollipop recently coming out. It hasn't reached a huge amount of smartphones at the moment, so there's still a good chance that your Android device is rocking Android KitKat.

If you'd like to find out when (or if) your device is getting updated to Android Lollipop, check out our guide on when you can expect to see the upgrade.

But back to Android KitKat; don't be fooled, this is an important step up for Android. KitKat is super-smooth, the UI is refined and elegant, there are improvements to the long-neglected calling and messaging side of the platform, a new focus on productivity, and your fortune-telling digital assistant is brought front and centre as Google Now reaches maturity.

General surprise in the tech world wasn't just based on the erroneous supposition that Key Lime Pie had to be next; there were also some raised eyebrows at the idea of Google entering into a tawdry cross-licensing deal with Nestlé which would see a flood of Android-shaped KitKats hitting the shops offering buyers the chance to win Nexus 7 tablets or Google Play credit.

According to Google the promotion was its idea, and no money changed hands. With Nestlé producing 50 million Android KitKat bars it certainly looks like a sweet deal for them.

Naming conventions aside, the update is about addressing some of the Android criticisms that simply won't go away, and it does so very well indeed.

There's a real focus on the consumer here, with a smattering of useful new features, a noticeable bump in performance, and some optimization to ensure that budget hardware is not left behind.

Before Android Lollipop dropped, Android was easily the best version of the platform to date, which could explain why some smartphone and tablet manufacturers seem to be in no hurry to update their devices.

Android KitKat started out as version , but it's since had various small updates in the form of , , and most recently Android - this review has been updated to reflect the tweaks and changes experienced at each step to give you the most complete overview of the operating system, as well as highlighting how things will change in the move to Android Lollipop.

First impressions

KitKat really makes a mockery of the idea that iOS 7 is more refined than Android and even stands up well to iOS 8. This version of the platform is impressively fast, with stylish transitions and an intuitive feel that masks the potential complexity.

There's a paring back of the notification bar that introduces translucency and context awareness, enabling you to reclaim every pixel of your display for whatever you're doing.

There are a few new features here, and not all of them are perfect, but for the most part Google has cherry-picked improvements and refined them.

The contrast between the bloated OEM launchers and stock Android could hardly be starker, but there are still a few things that manufacturers like Samsung and LG could teach Google (split-screen apps is an obvious one) and some of these things have been addressed in Android Lollipop.

The familiar white Google logo, followed by four pulsing colourful circles, still greets you on booting up, but the process has sped up dramatically as the platform has matured. When I checked version on a Galaxy Nexus it took 34 seconds. The Nexus 4 running Android Jelly Bean clocked in at 19 seconds.

Android took around 20 seconds to boot up on the Nexus 5used for testing. Not quite as fast as the Nexus 4, but when you consider that my Galaxy S3 running version of Android took just shy of 40 seconds to boot up, you get a feel for how speedy that is.

As the home screen comes into view, you can immediately detect the lighter feel that Google was shooting for. The status bar icons at the top are now white.

The custom Roboto font looks like it has been on a diet, which makes it feel that little bit more crisp and elegant. Looking at menu highlights and icons, what once was blue is now generally grey.

All of this has changed again though with Android Lollipop, which gives the OS a 'Material Design' makeover which features a flat look while making everything that little bit more real.

Google Now Launcher

The changes go further on the Nexus 5 because it has the Google Now Launcher. Those black bars top and bottom are gone. A subtle gradient is retained to ensure white icons are clear, even on light backgrounds.

Head into your app drawer and you'll find white dots at the bottom of the screen to illustrate which page you are on. The icons are now much bigger and clearer, at the cost of displaying just four across instead of five.

The widget tab has been dumped, and you won't miss it because a long press anywhere on the home screen gives you access to the widget menu, as well as wallpapers and relevant settings.

Swipe from right to left and you can access additional home screens. There doesn't seem to be any limit, you simply drag an icon to the right to create a new screen. Any home screen you empty will automatically disappear.

The only real surprise is that you have to scroll deliberately through each one; you can't take a shortcut by tapping on the page marker dots at the bottom.

Swiping from left to right on the home screen will bring Google Now into view, but I'll go into that in more detail later.

Initially none of these changes made it beyond the Nexus 5 by default, but the Google Now Launcher has since been made available for other devices in the Play Store.

I was disappointed and surprised that Google initially decided to keep this as a Nexus 5 exclusive, so it's pleasing to see it getting a wider release.

If it doesn't work for you, the good news is that popular launchers, such as the free Nova Launcher, can be used, and the status bar transparency is supported along with a number of other customization options, to help you get the look you want.

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Android KitKat review

(Pocket-lint) - Another year, another version of Google's Android operating system. This time it's version , better known as Android KitKat. Yup, the Nestle four-finger chocolate wafer bar will have its name aligned with tech as much as it does with casual confectionery. But is the Android version as sweet?

The Android landscape is changing - and changing fast - and the lines between versions perhaps aren't as distinct as we'd all like them to be. The last really big change to Android, we feel, was with the introduction of Jelly Bean with Android in July In the interim, Android has moved many of its applications out to Google Play, meaning more updates on more devices more frequently, and a gradual levelling of the Android version playing field. This deals with some criticism of "fragmentation", in that you can be enjoying many of Android's latest core features without needing your device manufacturer or network to test, approve and issue an update.

With that in mind, what has really changed in Android KitKat and what difference will the mobile OS bump make to your daily experience?

Under the hood

Some of the changes that Google has brought about with Android KitKat are performance related, but important. They're the changes you don't necessarily see, but will stand Android in good stead moving forward.

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One of the boasts is that the touch response is faster and more accurate, although that’s difficult to judge, as KitKat is currently limited to the Nexus 5, which is a powerful handset, so we won't see if it brings an improvement to other devices until updates roll out.


In a quick comparison of Android KitKat on the Nexus 5 alongside Android Jelly Bean on the Nexus 4, we can't detect a real different in the touch response. We're not saying it isn't there, but the Nexus 4 is nice and responsive as it is. We suspect this new upgrade will only become apparent on lower-spec devices. But for now, we just have to wait.

Elsewhere, Android KitKat has been designed to run on entry-level devices with MB RAM. Importantly, it's the management of memory that's been targeted, so Android should run more efficiently, on all devices.

READ:Android v KitKat: When's it coming to my phone or tablet?

Google tells us that this makes multi-tasking better. Doing multiple things at once - the given example is listen to music while browsing the web - is possible, and we can't say that we notice a difference in day-to-day use, and background music has been around for a long time already.

Full screen looks

Set the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 4 side-by-side and there's an instant difference in look between KitKat and the latest version of Jelly Bean. There's a new level of transparency on the home page of KitKat that gives things a lift. The notification bar and the launcher icons now have the wallpaper running behind them.

READ:Nexus 5 hands-on review

It means that the display appears to be larger, because you have the spread of colour across the whole screen. It's a nice effect, as you don't feel like you're sacrificing space to a couple of black bars. Swipe down the notifications tray and there's a touch of transparency, just as there is in the apps tray.


This runs over into Google Now which is a much slicker and more integrated experience than it was before, but that's where this new look more or less stops. Open up core Google apps like Gmail or People and you're back to a solid black bottom bar and the solid notifications bar in the majority of cases.

We like the look of the KitKat home screen, but can't help thinking apps like Google Maps and Chrome would particularly benefit from jumping to this style too. We just want KitKat to go a little further, reach into some of Google's core apps, as it does with Google Now.

Google details that the translucent system UI is available to developers, so we're sure there will be wider use of it in the future, both in Google apps and in third-party apps.

The new Play Books app is one that features it - rolling over the navigation buttons at the bottom so you get more words on the display, in the same way that Play Movies has done for a while. We'd love this to come to other apps, like the Kindle app for example, where the new immersive mode makes perfect sense.


One area where KitKat again gives you a big screen experience is on the lock screen, where music now gets a full background take over. The album art is pulled in and takes over everything and it looks great.

Best of all, it's not restricted to Play Music, as when we fired up Amazon MP3 it worked in exactly the same way. Play Music does have a small advantage: you can quickly scan the track you're playing from the lock screen controls.

A monochrome world

Visually there's been a change to the colours for the status icons used across the top of the home screen too, dropping to white. It's a brilliant white that fills grey outlines, the same as the Google search bar of Android Jelly Bean.

However, these fade to grey when you open apps that revert to the black notifications bar. So, as above, in the Android KitKat launcher and Google Now, they're white, but open Maps or Gmail and they fade to grey. Install a third-party launcher and they'll then stay grey as they're on the black bar, rather than the translucent bar of KitKat.


They're not hugely informative icons, especially as there's no native option for including the battery percentage, or indicating whether you're actually getting the data connection that the full bars are suggesting, as is offered in many manufacturer re-skins of Android.

Open the quick settings menu with the handy two-finger downward swipe and here you'll find that the network and Wi-Fi icons do give you that data traffic information. There's an added locations tile here to toggle on and off, which is most welcome.


Head into the settings menu, and the top bar has been tweaked, giving you a simpler cog settings icon in a grey bar and dropping the blue line, a design update that runs throughout the menus. Otherwise it's pretty much the same, a minor tweaking rather than anything too dramatic.

Anyone getting a phone from Samsung, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola or anyone else, will probably never see these aspects, as it's one of the most common areas of manufacturer customisation.

Google Now

Sticking with the visuals for a second, Google Now on KitKat behaves slightly differently from its Jelly Bean equivalent. Although Google Now's content comes from the same place and you get the same features through the latest Google Search update on Android, it's the animation we're intrigued by, as it shows that Android is moving the launcher and Google Now much closer together.

Google Now can be accessed through the old swipe up of the home icon as before, but now lives to the left of the default home page. That means you can swipe across to it, rather than using the upwards gesture.

What we really like about it is how the Google search box from your home page switches text colour as the Google Now page moves in. Someone has thought about how these pages will interact and the result is rather good.


Another small detail is when you touch the Google search bar on the home page, it then opens up search from where you touch with a circular animation, whereas on Jelly Bean the logo just turns blue and you're taken to Google Search.

KitKat also offers some more overt shortcuts for Google Now, as there are icons to set a reminder and customise content at the bottom of the page, which previously hid in the settings menu.

When it comes to Google Now content, this has changed quite a bit. You still get the option to elect your sports team, nominate home and work places, and fill in stocks, but now there's a section called "everything else".

This is a run of questions here where you can opt in or out of other Google Now elements - transit routes, weather, local movies and so on. It's a tidy solution and really easy to run through and change as you like, feeling much more accessible than before.

Google Search

One oddity, perhaps, is that although Google Now was born out of the Google Search app, there's now a separate search function that's not wrapped in Google Now as it is in Jelly Bean.

Open Google Search in KitKat and the opening page is just the keyboard and some of your recent search history, with that translucency so your wallpaper adds a little background hue. In Jelly Bean, you get less of your search history and the top card of Google Now peeping in, usually a fragment of the weather, or a sports fixture.

The search process is thereafter the same, it's now just a little neater going into it.

Ok Google

A lot of internet space has been given over to talking about the phrase "Ok Google". It's an entry point to Google's voice control and on Android KitKat, it works from the home screen of your device.

As long as the Nexus 5 is unlocked, you can say "Ok Google" and you can then ask your phone questions, retrieve information, send messages or open apps. It's restricted to US English only at the moment, so if you want the feature elsewhere, you'll have to change the language, but then it works fine.


However, it's only the always-listening part that comes with KitKat on the Nexus 5. If you're sitting in Google Now on the Nexus 4 or the HTC One, you can still say "Ok Google" to get into voice functions in the same way.

There's a whole range of things on offer and you can browse the options by asking Google: say "Ok Google" and then "Ok Google" and it will give you a list of supported commands and examples.

We're not going to dive any deeper, as it's not unique to Android KitKat, but its elevation to the home screen of the Nexus 5, and the raising prominence of Google Now, makes it feel like a strong focus for Android moving forward.

Apps icons go big, apps tray less useful

Not only has the launcher button for the apps tray lost the white ring around it, but the app icons have increased in size in KitKit. They're huge. It means that the icons on your launcher look striking. There are still five spaces on the launcher for a normal phone display - and this will scale as KitKat appears on different sized devices - so you don't lose out.

We like to deposit folders on the launcher as it's a much cleaner way of getting quick access to more apps without the mess. Folders have changed visually, again dropping the translucent black background for translucent white, although this makes little real difference.


Where there is a difference, however, is in the apps tray itself. Open it up and you get those big icons and now you only get 20 apps per page. In Jelly Bean you'd get 25 apps, plus a shortcut to Google Play and access to your widgets, none of which are in the KitKat apps tray.

The result is a cleaner look: the apps are the focus, but it feels like a large bin full of colourful icons and not hugely useful. You can't change their size, you can't change the order, you can't make folders, you just end up with pages and pages of apps.

Widgets, wallpapers and home screens

With the widgets whipped out of the apps tray, they can now be found following a long press on the home screen wallpaper. As before, this is where you'd go to change the wallpaper, rearrange pages, and now add widgets too.


New pages appear as you add widgets or install apps and they automatically disappear as you delete those home screen elements, so you never find yourself with lots of empty spare pages.

It's a minor rearrangement which we don't think will confuse too many, but it's also here that you'll find a settings menu. Open it up and you'll find it's the Google Search settings menu, where you can set preferences for search parameters and voice control.

We said that Google Now and the launcher had moved closer together, but it seems that they're really now the same thing in Android KitKat.

Multiple launchers

With Android being so customisable, installing a different launcher is a common choice. There's extra support for alternative launchers, or "homes" in KitKat. When you install a new launcher, you get a Home settings menu option.

From this option you can switch launcher quickly, or delete one that you've installed. This addition will make launchers perhaps seem less daunting to those who don't know Android so well, and it's certainly easy to play around with alternatives.


If you want your phone to have a different character at the weekend, perhaps this is how to do it with minimal fuss.

However, doing so currently means you miss out on that slick Google Now integration, as well as the Ok Google activation from the home screen. So as Google gives you easy control of launchers, it also gives you a compelling reason to stick to the default.

Hello, this is…

With an eye on calling, KitKit introduces a couple of new features that makes use of Google's mass of information it has on businesses. When you get a call from someone not in your contacts, Google will pull in business information it has so you have some clue of who the caller is.

That means that you get better caller ID, in theory, although we can see that many calls will slip through the net. In the time we've been using KitKat we've received a number of calls and only one was identified with a company name. It was correct, and it's useful, but we can see that only main switchboard numbers will work and we know that many company phone networks aren't identified, so it may not be hugely useful, in the UK at least.

Additionally, Google wants to take the pain out of finding businesses too. Rather than Googling somewhere local, or finding the number from Maps, you just type the name. Want the number for your local pizza place? Just type pizza and the number and address will appear. You can then go on and look them up in Maps or Google+ by opening the contact card as you would with a person. It's very clever, as long as businesses are listed in Google.


Sticking in the same area, there's been a change to the dialler: it opens up with a frequent callers list and favourites, so it's faster to get to those regular contacts.

In the number pad itself, things are much improved too. The visuals are cleaner, contacts are shown with images as you dial, making for an enhanced experience over the Jelly Bean offering.

It's still not as advanced as your average third-party offering, as you can't delete calls from the list individually to get rid of those irritating spam callers and cultivate a useful call history, and the handling of contacts isn't as sophisticated as anything you get in HTC Sense or TouchWiz.

Messaging is dead, long live Hangouts!

Not only is KitKat looking to push voice searching and elevate Google Now, but Hangouts also gets a boost. By default, it's the SMS app in KitKat. This is more about the removal of the old Messaging app, as the update to Hangouts across Android means you can set it as your default SMS app, regardless of the version of Android you're using.

So while it isn't KitKat specific, like many of the changes that KitKat ushers in, it's another strong statement of intent from Google. In many ways it rivals the SMS/iMessage position of Apple.

As an SMS app it works well enough, but in Hangouts you'll now have a mixed stream of Hangout messages and SMS or MMS messages. Once you're using it, there's no problem with this arrangement: SMS messages come and go as normal.


There's potential for confusion, however, because you now have a range of messaging options for your contacts in the one app and you have to select how you want to contact them.

It's a drop-down box, but if you want to send an SMS, you'll have to make sure you select the phone number, otherwise you might be sending a Hangout message into the dark that will never arrive on someone's mobile phone. Not everyone uses Hangouts, or has a device that will deliver messages from the service.

This potential confusion runs a little further when it comes to searching for contacts to start new messages. The Hangouts app returns contacts from your phone, then makes suggestions from Google+, based on name.

Essentially, these are just random people pulled from the pot that you might end up starting a Hangout with, which feels a little like spam. Worse, some might take offence, as within a few taps we had contact images appearing with girls in their underwear, naked ripped male torsos and a whole lot more.

This random integration of Google+ seems to only happen on KitKat, our Jelly Bean Nexus 4 only suggests contacts we already have.

Productivity: Quickoffice and Google Drive

There's a new Quickoffice app that comes with KitKat and a glance at it will reveal why we've bundled it together with Google Drive. It's available to download in Google Play for other Android versions, but in KitKat it's different, presumably thanks to the new storage access framework.

The new storage framework is designed to give standard method of finding files to use, be that from your internal storage or from an online source, like Google Drive. Although it needs to be implemented by developers, it should mean that adding attachments to emails or opening files uses a uniform interface, rather than each app having a different file navigation system as is currently the case.

Returning to Google Drive, it focuses on showing what you've got in the cloud - docs, spreadsheets, and so on - but also gives you options for creation of files.


Quickoffice, on the other hand, starts up offering you recent files and options to create, but then you can open documents from Google Drive or other sources like downloads. Ultimately, you can open documents and edit them from both ends, so it feels like they're almost the same thing, but with slightly different layouts.

In addition to a new Quickoffice and tweaks around file handling, Android KitKat also provides a new native printing framework. This incorporates Google Cloud Print, and there's support for HP printers in KitKat from the off. We'd imagine that other printer manufacturers will add support plugins too, so you can easily print from your devices without problems. Fingers crossed.

Additional settings

KitKat offers more chocolaty goodness too. You can now set a data limit cut-off, so once you reach your allowance, your data connection will shut off to avoid incurring further costs.

Location access has had a revamp, detailing which apps are requesting your location for better management, as well as telling you if they have high battery consumption. In the same settings menu, you can choose what type of location mode you want - so if battery is a concern, you can pick a more economical solution.

Getting set for the future

When Apple launched the iPhone 5S it talked about the M7 coprocessor, a low-power processor to handle motion detection, for things like fitness apps. KitKat offers support for similar applications, with native software support if the hardware is present.

READ:Apple iPhone 5S review

NFC payments get a boost, with native support through the new tap & pay feature. It supports Google Wallet - which is currently limited to the US - but should lead to wider proliferation of payment apps in a consistent manner.

KitKat also brings native support for IR blasters. That means that there can potentially be wider support for those devices, like the HTC One which offers the hardware, so you'll be seeing more apps that control your TV.

With all these things it feels like we're waiting to see where they go, how developers get to grips with them and what the results are. But it's positive.


Android KitKat makes some important changes under the hood and introduces lots of new features, including some we've not mentioned here. We like the premise of the latest update from Google. The translucent user interface and the move towards getting more out of your display are welcomed, although they're only small changes at the moment, like the sowing of a seed that will grow into something more impressive.

The deeper integration of Google Now we like too, because we've found that Now is becoming more and more useful, especially if you use a lot of Google apps and services. Despite sounding like something of a gimmick, the touch-free option of "Ok Google" has seen us talking to our phone much more than with previous devices and we hope to see more of it elsewhere.

We think that the bundling of SMS into Hangouts is an ugly solution, though, especially with all those outsiders appearing as you search. On the other hand, we welcome Google trying to identify those who are calling us and giving a direct way to find local businesses through the dialer.

Many aspects of Android KitKat, however, provide potential for the future. The tweaks to accommodate lower-spec devices, the provision of support for features we're yet to see and the first steps we're seeing on the Nexus 5 feel like Android is being positioned for the next year of exciting launches.

In many ways, KitKat doesn't bring a huge swathe of features you'll be desperate to get your hands on, but it feels like it's laying the foundation for some really impressive stuff to come over the next 12 months. Improved visuals, full screen apps, translucent elements, and better storage handling means that the KitKat future of your current Android device has the potential to be much refined and we're excited to see how it's embraced by manufacturers. For now, the fruits of some of that we'll have to wait on.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on .

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KitKat promises Android for all (hands-on) Android KitKat brings Android to the masses, introduces a minimal design, and puts Google search in your dialer.

Editors' note, December 5, This hands-on was updated to include details on how Android KitKat runs on the Nexus 7.

Google's newest version of its mobile operating system, Android KitKat, doesn't deliver a huge list of transformative design and feature changes, like what we saw when Ice Cream Sandwich was introduced. Instead, KitKat's main purpose is to usher in a strategy from Google to get the latest Android version on all Android devices, both premium and low-end.

That's a big deal because every year, lower-end handsets come out running old versions of Android, fueling the argument that Android is fragmented and giving customers an inconsistent Android experience. With KitKat, Google shrank the operating system so that it can run on many more devices, thus helping close the gap between low-end and high-end devices.

This hands-on examines Android as it runs on the , as well as a look at the changes KitKat brings to the original Nexus 7 from Not all of the features mentioned will be available on other devices when they get the update. We'll continue to update this material as we spend time with the operating system on other devices. For an in-depth review of the Nexus 5, read Lynn La's review on CNET.

The newest Android for all
Google's ultimate goal is to get KitKat on all Android devices from this point forward. Every year, we see new devices running the latest flavor of Android, but also some running versions that are, in some cases, years old. That makes cheaper devices seem less appealing even given their low prices, and leaves the budget-minded miffed that they can't get the latest features without a cost.

The problem is that budget devices often have smaller amounts of internal storage and RAM and can often only run an older version of Android. More powerful, and more expensive, phones pack faster processors and more RAM, allowing them to run the most updated version of the OS, previously . Google fixed this issue in KitKat by shrinking the footprint of the operating system by 16 percent so that it can run on devices with only MB of RAM. That means that budget devices and phones aimed at emerging markets, which is exactly what Google is after, can run KitKat, instead of now-outdated Gingerbread () or Ice Cream Sandwich ().

Google is giving manufacturers and carriers the opportunity to put KitKat on all devices in However, since there's no pressure or directive to only ship devices with version , it's up to them to follow through. It remains to be seen if carriers and OEMs will jump at the chance to only go with KitKat, and if the past is any indication, it's likely that we'll continue to see new phones shipping with Jelly Bean for a while.

Fresh, simple design
KitKat on the Nexus 5 has a new, minimalist design that still has remnants of the Holo look introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich. Note that I say on the Nexus 5 -- that's because Google built a special launcher for its latest Nexus phone called the Google Experience Launcher. It changes the look of the home screens and app drawer, and gives you a new way to access Google Now. This launcher is not officially available on any other Android device, including Nexus devices, meaning you won't see it even if your phone gets the update.

On other Nexus devices, including the Nexus 4, original Nexus 7, and edition Nexus 7, there are minor design changes, but overall, the home screens, app drawer, and menus have the same Holo user interface from Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

Though we are still waiting for to make its way onto non-Nexus Android devices, it's safe to say that if your phone has a custom skin, such as HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz, and gets upgraded to KitKat, you're not likely to see many design differences.

The follow design changes are exclusive to the Google Experience Launcher on the Nexus 5.

First, the home screens on KitKat look a bit different. Icons are now much larger and the text is condensed. The top status bar is translucent and blends with your wallpaper. Google says that apps can take advantage of this as well. For instance, Twitter could have the blue background on the app's header extend into the status if it so desired.

There are no longer five home screens visible by default; instead there are only two. You can add more by grabbing an app or widget and moving it to the right or left of an existing screen. Just as you can in TouchWiz and other skins, you can now rearrange entire home screens, instead of moving apps and widgets around individually. To do it, you just tap and hold the screen and then tap and hold the screen you want to move.

There's a new menu where you can change your wallpaper and add widgets that pops up when you press and hold the screen. There's also an option called Settings in that menu, but it takes you to Google search settings, not your phone's settings menu, which is strange and unexpected. When you select wallpapers, a row of thumbnails of new wallpapers designed for KitKat appears. On the far left, there's an option to choose photos from your gallery. When you choose your own photo, it will show a full-screen preview of what it will look like as a wallpaper, instead of forcing you to crop the photo with a box, which is a welcome change. It reminds me a lot of how you set the backgrounds on an .

If you select widgets from that home screen menu, you'll get a grid of available widgets that you can add to your screens.

The app drawer also got a makeover. There is no longer a section for widgets and no icon for Google Play in the top-right corner; all you see is a grid of your phone's apps. It also has a translucent background that shows your home screen wallpaper.

What hasn't changed is the notifications menu, though Google did add a new location tile in the quick-settings panel. Lastly, the persistent Google search bar that popped up in Android and stays at the top of your home screens is still there. You still can't remove it unless you use a launcher or install a new ROM.

Next up is the lock screen. Though it doesn't look much different from in and , there's a new music widget that lets you control audio playback from the lock screen without unlocking your phone. When you play music from the Google Music app, the lock screen will show the song's album art full-screen. Additionally, if you're playing a video on a from your phone, the lock screen will show the video or movie's art and give you an option to pause or play the video. Unlike the earlier mentioned design updates, these two widgets showed up on my Nexus 7 when I upgraded to

With third-party music apps, there's no album art, but the app's icon, song title, and artist will show up on the lock screen, right above the playback controls. Apps like Spotify and Pandora and most podcast players have had lock screen controls for a while, but the new widget gives them a much cleaner look.

You can still add other widgets to the lock screen, for Gmail or other apps, just make sure you check the box in the security settings that says "Enable widgets."

Google introduced a new immersive experience for some apps in KitKat. The idea is that when you're watching a video, reading a book, or playing a game, the status bar and onscreen buttons will fade away so there aren't distractions. In the Google Books app, that means each page takes up the entire screen. This feature is also available on devices running Android KitKat, not just the Nexus 5.

Google Now at your fingertips
With Google Now, Google is aiming to bring you all the information you could possibly need in one place. There are cards for your upcoming appointments with travel times to help you plan your journey, weather cards to tell you the forecast, and sports scores that help you stay on top of your favorite team. In KitKat, Google Now gets more robust.

As I mentioned before, the Google Experience Launcher, which is only officially available for the Nexus 5, changes the way you access Google Now. You can still swipe up from the home button (as you could in Jelly Bean), but now you can also swipe all the way to the left from your home screen to access Google Now. Additionally, if unlock your phone and stay on one of your home screens, you can say, "OK, Google" to activate voice search without needing to tap anywhere on the display.

Though voice-activated search is exclusive to KitKat on the Nexus 5, that phone isn't the only device that allows you to use voice commands to launch Google Search. Motorola's Moto X, Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini all sport Touchless Control, which means you can say, "OK, Google" to start a search without needing to touch the phone at all.

When the Nexus 5 was first announced, Google talked about upcoming changes it had in store for Google Now. With a recent update in November, Google Search (which includes Now) got new cards that bring more at-a-glance information to the app. One card alerts you when your favorite Web sites publish a new article, but, given that I haven't see this card in action yet, I don't know how, exactly, Google figures out which Web sites are your favorites. It could be if you search for that site often, or if you visit it frequently in Google Chrome and the browser is signed into the same account you use for Now. I'll update this as soon as I have more information on this particular card.

Additional new Google Now cards include an updated traffic card with incident reports from Waze, movie and TV recommendations, and alerts for when an item you ordered is ready for in-store pickup.

Another major change in Google Now shows up when you actually search for something. Google hinted during the Nexus 5 announcement that it will start to dive deeper into your phone and show you search results from your installed apps. A December Google blog post shed more light on that search feature.

It's called App Indexing and it works like this: Say you search for "Star Wars Episode V" on Google Now and have the IMDb app installed on your phone. In the search results, you'll see a hit for, and, below that, an option to "Open in app." Tap that, and your phone will launch the IMDb app and immediately show the page for "The Empire Strikes Back."

Google says this will work with apps from AllTrails, Allthecooks, Beautylish, Etsy, Expedia, Flixster, HealthTap, IMDb, Moviefone, Newegg, OpenTable, Trulia, and Wikipedia, with more titles to come. Once you download one of these apps, it can take a few days for them to show up in search results. Additionally, Google will include links to apps in the Play Store in search results, when relevant.

Lastly, Google gave us a vague promise of future cards that will provide context when you're near a certain event or attraction that is getting a lot of search hits. For example, there's a parade in your city and there are a lot of people searching for information on what's happening. Google would display a card about the event's time, location, and other important information when you're near the event. The company hasn't yet revealed more details about how these cards would work or when we can expect to see them.

Google, place my call
KitKat includes a brand-new dialer, which remembers who you call the most and keeps those people front and center. When you open the dialer, the dial pad is hidden away and you'll see a list of frequently called contacts.

One of the biggest changes is that you can now search for businesses from the dialer and call them with one tap. That means instead of opening Google Search or Google Maps and looking for a business, finding its number, and then placing the call, you can just start typing in the dialer and select the correct result, and your phone will start dialing. You can get specific by typing "Starbucks" to find nearby locations, for example, or just type "coffee" for broader results.

Also, you can type a vanity number -- such as Flowers or Wait-Wait -- into the search bar, and the dialer will translate it into a numerical phone number. It's a small touch that makes the actual phone part of your phone much more user-friendly.

Another major feature is Caller ID. When a business that's not in your contacts calls you, its name will show up on the screen, helping you figure out who's calling. This only works if the business has a listing in Google Maps (most do) and the number that's calling you is the same number in that listing. If someone calls from an extension, it won't work.

For now, this updated search-enabled dialer is only available on the Nexus 5.

Hangouts meets texting
It's long been rumored that Google would fold the stock SMS text messaging into the IM, voice, and video calling app Hangouts. Though Google first made that a reality with KitKat's release, the Hangouts app got an update on November 7 that allows anyone to send text and picture messages. Hangouts is only compatible with phones running with Android and higher.

If you already use Hangouts on your Android phone to IM with your friends, the experience hasn't changed much. You can still search for contacts by e-mail address or Google account name and send them IMs. What has changed is that, at least for the Nexus devices, there is no longer a separate dedicated SMS app. You now send and receive text messages and photos from the Hangouts app.

Hangouts separates your SMS conversations and Google Chat conversations into individual threads on the main screen, even if you're communicating with one contact. You can, however, switch between those two conversations when you're in the message thread by tapping the person's name at the top.

While Hangouts is easy to use, it doesn't bring anything else to thetablet that any other SMS client doesn't. I'll stick with a separate app on my Android phone, mostly because I've never been a fan of Hangouts for its original purpose and I can customize the look of my text-messaging app. If you'd rather use something else too, I recommend Textra.

Extra features
Even though emoji were available in earlier versions of Android, they officially come to Android in KitKat. Emoji are part of the stock Google keyboard now and can be used anywhere you input text. Luckily, if you send a message with emoji to a friend with an iOS or non-KitKat device, your friend will still be able to see the tiny pictures, as they can translate to other emoji protocols. I, for one, am a big fan of the new emoji, especially since that's one of the few features from iOS that I was hoping would someday turn up in Android.

You can now print photos from the Gallery app with Google Cloud Print. If you have a cloud-enabled printer, you need to register it with its cloud e-mail address. For non-cloud printers, you need to use a USB cable to connect it to your computer and register it on Google Cloud Print.

For my Wi-Fi-connected HP all-in-one, which doesn't have a cloud print option, that meant I had to connect it to my laptop and sign into Google Cloud Print in my Chrome browser's settings menu. Once that was set up, I could go to the Gallery app, choose a photo, select print from the menu, and find my correct printer.

You can now open files in Google's productivity suite Quickoffice from any cloud apps you have installed on your phone, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. You can easily save them back to the cloud when you're finished.

Android is making it easier to manage your launchers with a settings option called Home. There you can switch between the stock launcher and any that you have installed, such as Apex or Nova. This is a personal favorite feature of mine, since I like to use launchers and this makes it really easy to switch back and forth. As far as I can tell, this feature is only available on the Nexus 5, thanks to the Google Experience Launcher.

Other smaller changes introduced in KitKat include faster multitasking, improved touch-screen performance, low-power audio playback, and a battery-saving lower-accuracy location mode.

Here's a full list of the changes:

  • The revamped phone dialer app will evaluate which contacts you talk to most and automatically prioritize your phone book accordingly. Also, integration with more Google apps such as Maps will let you search for nearby places and businesses right in the phone dialer.
  • Caller ID gets a boost, as well. For incoming calls that don't match a phone number not in your contacts, Google apps will scan and display any matches from local businesses listed in Google Maps.
  • The immersive mode clears up clutter on your screen by automatically hiding everything except the one thing you're viewing (like a photo, map, or game). In other words, you'll be in full-screen mode without status and navigation bars. When you're ready to move on, you can bring back your status bar and navigation buttons by swiping the edge of the screen.
  • A new Hangouts app consolidates all of your text and multimedia messages, conversations, and video calls in one place.
  • You'll be able to print photos, documents, and Web pages from your phone or tablet. Any printer connected to Google Cloud Print will be compatible, along with HP ePrint printers and other printers with Google Play apps.
  • If you have an Android device with an IR blaster, you'll be able to use applications that make it function as a TV remote.
  • Capable devices will now support Chromecast.
  • When you reach the bottom of a menu, there's a faint white glow instead of the earlier, brighter blue glow.
  • Support for the Message Access Profile (MAP) will let drivers exchange messages between their Bluetooth-enabled cars and devices.
  • Closed captioning comes to most applications.
  • A new look for the e-mail app brings nested folders, contact photos, and revamped navigation.
  • NFC features now will work with more wireless carriers.
  • App developers can take advantage of new step detection and counting composite sensors.
  • Smaller details range from a uniform color for status bars to a new condensed font.

When will I get it?
KitKat debuted on October 31 with the Nexus 5, which is on sale at the Google Play store starting at $ Since then, Google has started to roll out updates to the Nexus 4, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition, the HTC One Google Play Edition, the Moto X, and the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. For its part, HTC has confirmed that the HTC One Max and One Mini will also get the update. Other smartphones, including Motorola's Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini and Sony's Xperia Z and Xperia Z1, are all slated to get bumped to , according to each company's device support pages. For a full list of devices that are rumored or confirmed to be getting KitKat, check out our Android update coverage here.

If you're itching to get your hands on the update now, there are plenty of ROMs out there that can deliver the KitKat experience to your phone. And if you don't want to root your phone and flash a ROM, you can install the Google Experience Launcher in a few easy steps. I have it running on my Samsung Note 2 and it makes my phone look almost identical to the Nexus 5, save for notification bar and phone menus.

What we think
Though many Android fans expected Android to replace , and perhaps usher in bigger changes, Android KitKat introduced the beginnings of a new strategy for Google of getting Android on more devices and injecting more of Google search into the operating system.

By shrinking the size of the OS, Google opened up the possibility for many more devices to get the latest version of Android, which helps beef up the value of low-end phones. It's also a significant step toward minimizing fragmentation, a problem that has cropped up because there is a wide variety of Android devices on the market running different versions of the operating system.

Google is putting search front and center with a redesigned phone dialer, smarter caller ID, and the Nexus 5's Google Now-centric launcher. All those changes also indicate that from now on, Google search will likely be even more integrated into every part of Android. And from a company that dominates the world of search, that strategy comes as no surprise.

Evolution of Android OS 1.0 to 11 2020

Android KitKat Review

What is Android ?

Android is the latest version of Google&#;s mobile operating system. The first phone it features in is the Google Nexus 5, and we&#;ve been using that mobile to find out what&#;s new in Android , known as KitKat.

SEE ALSO: Google Nexus 5 review

Android – Interface

New features win most of the spotlight in any Android update, but one of the most important changes in Android KitKat is its new approach to interface design.

The software doesn&#;t look radically different, but there are some quite fundamental, important alterations. The line that used to separate the shortcut icon dock from the rest of the home screen has disappeared, and so have the apps/widgets tabs in the apps menu.

It may sound trivial, but makes Android much simpler, visually, than Android And this change has clearly been made following some careful thought about how people actually use the system.

SEE ALSO: iOS 7 review

Android KitKat 6

The blunt truth – people don&#;t change widgets much. You generally find a clock you like, and perhaps one or two more utility widgets if you&#;re a bit of a techy fan, and you&#;re done. By filing the widgets menu away, out of plain sight, Google has made the system look a lot more rudimentary, in a good way.

Adding widgets is still easy, though. Hold a finger down on an empty part of a home screen and a wallpaper/widgets menu pops up. We&#;re not yet sure if the widgets tab will remain in the Android tablets, though.

You&#;ll also notice that app icons have been given a refresh. They&#;re now a bit curvier, a little bit more cartoony.

SEE ALSO: Nexus 5 vs Nexus 4: what&#;s the difference?

Android KitKat 7

Android KitKat&#;s friendlier look should make it easier for technophobes to get on with. And its pared-back style is marginally better to use all-round. However, anyone who&#;s used Android recently will feel at home. Basic navigation hasn&#;t changed – it has just been given a bit of an intelligent spring clean.

The notifications bar is very simple compared with that of most custom Android user interfaces, though. There are no feature toggles and no brightness slider on the top level – features we find pretty useful. Instead, getting to these things takes a couple of taps.

Android Hangouts

Android KitKat 5Like iOS, Android is also continually merging with its desktop relatives a bit.

There&#;s deep integration with Drive – Google&#;s cloud storage service – and SMS text messaging has been folded into Google Hangouts, the online chat side of the Google Plus social network.

It&#;s a pretty aggressive move that wants to nudge things like Whatsapp out of the picture, but it is terribly easy to use and dead handy if you already have a pretty Google-centric digital life (i.e. you use Gmail).

However, Google has hedged its bets on this one. In the Settings menu there&#;s a separate entry that lets you specify the SMS app you want to use.

As standard, there&#;s only Hangouts in this menu, but you can download others from Google Play. Handcent SMS is a popular one.    

Android &#; Google Keep

Android KitKat 3It&#;s not just chat clients that Android is trying to squish, either. The pre-installed Google Keep app also wants to take down Evernote.

It lets you make coloured virtual post-its, complete with pictures and audio clips.

It&#;s easy to use, and also lets you create reminders for future events or tasks as well as basic notes. Keep was introduced in March , but it only got more advanced features in August

For example, you can now set location-based reminders – it&#;ll give you a buzz with the reminder once your phone&#;s GPS realises you&#;re in the right spot.

How we test phones

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We&#;ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main phone for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world testing

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps


Reviews android kitkat

Android KitKat for two weeks: A detailed review

For more than a year, Android enthusiasts waited for Google to unveil the next iteration of the mobile operating system to succeed Jelly Bean. It was widely thought (even within Google) to be called Key Lime Pie. Instead, a bizarre marketing partnership was struck that gave us Android KitKat, officially unveiled on Halloween in the United States at the same time as the first device to run it – Google's new Nexus 5. I've spent the past two weeks poking around KitKat on a Nexus 5, taking in all the changes, improvements and at least a couple of steps backward. Here's my review:

A Whole New Look

The moment you first see the new home screen in KitKat, the improvements are apparent. The fonts appear smaller and more slender, while several newly redesigned app icons have grown a bit in size.

The biggest visual change for most users, while still subtle, is likely to be the addition of a more fully transparent background to the top status bar, the on-screen buttons on the bottom of the home screen, and the app drawer.

The result is a user experience that seems a little more unified and grounded in the home screen(s) and is somehow warmer – it's kind of nice not to be launching apps from the black void of a background-less app drawer.

This line of thought also carries over to the revamped lock screen in KitKat, which now offers more complete control over media that's playing without having to go through the unlocking process, and also displays album art attractively in another nice visual touch.

Other small aesthetic tweaks can be found throughout KitKat, notably a new look for the clock app and the download manager, which now comes with an optional grid view.

Another change that might make sense from a holistic design perspective but needlessly removes some handy bits of functionality is the move to "de-blue" a number of icons throughout KitKat. For example, in the status bar, the Wi-Fi and cell network activity icons no longer turn blue to indicate the presence of data connectivity. Instead, they're always gray when present and there's no longer a means of checking your network data status at a glance. Previous actions like keyboard presses that may have previously resulted in blue highlights have also gone gray in KitKat.

A few other features are newly hidden in this update, which caused a little confusion for me. The widget drawer in KitKat has been divorced from the app drawer and is accessed by long-pressing on any blank area of a home screen, which will bring up Google settings, wallpapers and widgets.

There's also no immediately obvious way to add home screens. It has to be done by selecting and dragging an app, either from an existing home screen or the app drawer, to the right edge of the screen, which then either scrolls to the next screen to the right, or creates a new one. But what if you want to add a new home screen all the way to the left, you ask? No dice, and here's why:

Google Now Has A New Home

From the home screen, if you swipe left, you'll always eventually land on the Google Now screen displaying all your personalized cards and the search bar.

KitKat has baked Google Now, search and voice control deeper into Android than ever before. On the Nexus 5, once you're past your lock screen you can say "OK, Google" at any point to trigger Google Now's voice control and start barking out commands and searches.

If you've got a Moto X, which is just beginning to get the KitKat update as of this writing, you'll be able to activate voice control without even touching the device, so long as it's powered on.

As mentioned earlier, you can also adjust settings for Google Now, search and voice control by simply long-pressing on any home screen empty space.

While the left-most Google Now home screen can't be removed, KitKat does allow for management of any home screen replacements that you might install. You switch between them in the "Home" section of Settings.

Revamped Apps

A number of native Android apps get new treatments in KitKat, starting with Hangouts, which has swallowed text messaging in the process. This is probably my least favorite "improvement" in Android – combining SMS and Google Hangouts (which itself had already swallowed Google Talk and Chat in earlier versions) isn't intuitive at first and it can be confusing to know which method of communication you're actually using to contact someone.

Did you just SMS or IM your cousin about the movie that starts in five minutes? In Hangouts it's easy to confuse the two, leading to potential headaches. Combining these functions into one app isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it's not well-executed in the current iteration.

The next big change is seen in the phone app, which attempts to shift the focus away from the dialpad, encouraging you instead to search for contacts and businesses via both the web and locally on your device. The dialpad is still there, but it's just not the first thing you see, and when you click on its icon, it overlays itself over the search window instead of taking the full screen.

When you receive a call that isn't in your local contacts, Google now introduces its own form of caller ID by cross-checking the incoming call number with Google Places. So if the call is coming from an existing business, it's likely that you'll be able to see which one is calling you in KitKat, which is a nice little bonus.

The email app in KitKat has also been refreshed with nested folders and better navigation, and there's also a new app for Photos, which is actually kind of strange because it's basically the same as the old Gallery app, but with the updated KitKat look. What's strange is that the old Gallery app is also still here in , but the camera app has been broken out to stand on its own. So enjoy the extra place to browse your photos, I guess.

Other notable apps and app changes include the inclusion of Quickoffice, which is quite a nice little add as a native app. Android Device Manager provides the ability to find or wipe your device should it be lost, and you'll also find a full-screen "immersive mode" (like that already seen on lots of Samsung devices), a new emoji keyboard and printer support using Google cloud print for apps.

More Support

The new look and apps are the big news in KitKat, but there's also some added support for certain uses that don't make headlines on their own, starting with Bluetooth Message Access Profiles that are frequently used to connect a smartphone to the head unit of a vehicle.

Infrared blasting is also now supported to turn your phone into a remote control for certain devices like set-top boxes.

For fitness freaks, step counting is now built in to Android to allow your phone to act as a pedometer and interface with apps like Moves on the Nexus 5.

Finally, some new power-saving features allow KitKat to be less demanding on devices. On the Nexus 5, a special low-power mode can allow for up to 60 hours of continuous audio playback, and new location modes allow you to keep track of your whereabouts when you need it and without having to manually toggle GPS and network settings to save battery when you don't.

Final Thoughts

KitKat is an iterative update for the most part. It doesn't introduce anything revolutionary, but it is an interesting next step in the evolution of Android. The aesthetics of the mobile OS are much improved, and we get a glimpse at where Google is heading with integrating core services like search and Google Now.

Perhaps most impressive is that the improvements were made while also making Android leaner than its predecessors. KitKat is optimized to run on devices with as little as MB of RAM to help facilitate expansion into emerging markets where flagship phones with top-of-the-line specs are less common.

With a point update as impressive as this, it shall be exciting to see what's in store for Android

Review Android 4.4.2 KitKat Español

Top critical review

All critical reviews›

out of 5 starsOK, but

Reviewed in the United States on May 5,

Over all, for the price, it's not a bad tablet. It seems to be fast enough to handle most things, and seems to be fairly well made. I'm a bit surprised to find that no one complained about the viewing angle of the screen. It may be unfair, to compare it to the other two tablets that we have (A Samsung, and an Asus), but this one can be a bit annoying. You have to be looking at it, at just the right angle, to keep it from washing out, or reversing colors. But if you need a cheap pad, is not bad.

[EDIT] It came with a dead battery, also seemed to take a long time to charge. (Day and a half for % on a 2 amp charger) Then runs down fast. (\2 to 3 hours) But then, i do give it plenty of background work to do. Still, not horrible for the price.

[EDIT #2] After running through a couple of charge/discharge cycles, the battery drain seems to be improving. Still not the 6 hours that I saw another reviewer claim, but acceptable. I'd give 3 and a half stars if I could.


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