Android 4.4 — nicknamed KitKat — is the 10th major version of Android. For devices running vanilla Android (such as Google's Nexus line) it's the most significant change to the look and feel of the OS since 2011's Ice Cream Sandwich release.
Android 4.4 was announced in September 2013 with the unveiling of an oversized Android KitKat statue outside Google's Building 44 in Mountain View, and a promotional tie-in with candy maker Nestle. But it wasn't until Oct. 31 that we learned exactly what was new in this Android version. KitKat brought a new, lighter color scheme to Android, with flatter icons and (on the Nexus 5 only, at least at first) a redesigned home screen launcher incorporating Google Now. There's a new dialer app for vanilla Android devices that draws on the Google Maps business directory. Apps can now make the notification bar atop the screen transparent, and the new immersive mode hides this bar, and any software keys, to let you view your content full-screen. Under-the-hood changes include improved wireless payment support through HCE (host card emulation), support for low-powered sensors such as pedometers, and optimizations to help the OS run on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM.
The first device to ship with KitKat was the LG-made Nexus 5, launched alongside KitKat and available from the day of announcement. The Nexus 4, 2012 and 2013 Nexus 7s and the Nexus 10 were all updated in the following weeks, along with Google Play edition devices. In early 2014 some third-party devices, such as the Moto X and developer edition HTC One, had already been updated to KitKat. More are expected to follow later in the year, along with a new wave of devices running Android 4.4 out of the box.
Throughout most of its development Android 4.4 was known internally at Google as "Key Lime Pie," however this unofficial nickname was dropped after the Nestle tie-in.
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