Skip to main content

Android 4.4 KitKat is official, launching on the Nexus 5

Streamlined performance, new smarter phone app, pedometer support, new "immersive mode" in new version of Android

Along with the LG Nexus 5, Android 4.4 KitKat is finally official — and there's a whole bunch of new features to get to grips with, besides the obvious UI changes we've seen in all the renders. For starters, among the many changes to the stock launcher, it's now possible to say "OK Google" from the home screen to start a voice search or use other voice-activated features.

More after the break.

There's a new, smarter phone app that can prioritize contacts based on who you call the most. There's also 'Yellow Pages'-like functionality built in, with the ability to look up local businesses. And whenever you receive a call from an unknown number, Google can match it to nearby local businesses on Google Maps.

Mobile printing is supported too, through Google Cloud Print and HP ePrint, or any connected printer with an app on the Google Play Store. Google has also expanded Google Drive's integration in Android, allowing apps such as QuickOffice to load and save apps from Google's cloud storage service. This is part of the new storage access framework, which aims to allow users to easily access files across different storage providers.

And as previously revealed at this week's Google+ event, the Hangouts app now acts as your messaging hub, with SMS support and the ability to share your location with a single button press. What's more, there's support for new sensor types, including pedometers, and Google says the Nexus 5 is paired with update hardware that allows steps and other sensor input to be measured in a battery-friendly way.

Google has also gone to great lengths to optimize Android for lower-powered devices, drastically reducing the amount of RAM used by the OS and Google apps like Chrome and YouTube through "Project Svelte." This means KitKat can run smoothly on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM, which is great news for older and less powerful devices.

A new "immersive mode" now allows you to completely dismiss the system UI, including on-screen buttons, and use your entire screen for content such as books, movies or TV shows.

So there's a lot of new stuff, and we're just scratching the surface here. We'll go into more depth in future posts, so stay tuned for that. Android 4.4 KitKat launches on the Nexus 5, and Google says the Nexus 4, 7, 10 and Google Play edition phones will follow in the next few weeks.

Source: Android Developers

Alex Dobie
Alex Dobie

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

64 Comments
  • wheres the anouncement? Posted via Android Central App
  • Why?
  • I want to see a video going over the new features of KITKAT.
  • And the features Demo?
  • Y'all keep saying "older and less powerful devices". It's not "older" devices. It's "new" low end devices.
  • +1 Posted via Android Central App
  • Seriously. Like "older less powerful devices" will ever see this update hahaha.
  • If they have unlocked bootloaders they will..
  • "This means KitKat can run smoothly on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM, which is great news for older and less powerful devices." Doesn't mean squat if the OEM's don't support it. In other words, I don't see Samsung or HTC offering it up on the SG3 or LTEVO let alone the SG2 or 3DEVO/OEVO devices. This would strictly be a Root application rather then an OTA update from our OEM's.
  • EVO LTE should get 4.3 and Sense 5.5 by the end of the year. Don't bet too much on 4.4, though. Posted from my HTC EVO 4G LTE via Android Central App
  • Who cares about OEM's? My 97 year old retarded grandmother can unlock, root and ROM her phone. There is no reason to be scared or act like a little girl about upgrading your OS yourself.
  • Sorry about the genetics in your family. Posted via Android Central App
  • Wahahahaha Posted via Android Central App
  • Might it mean something to my ancient but still operable Nexus One?
    I can do side load.
  • Patience. I'm sure they will be posted soon. Jeez lol. Posted via Android Central App
  • Galaxy Nexus?
  • I am seeing that the Gnex will be left out. I guess the dev community will be the only option.
  • That's actually surprising, to be honest. The GNex handled 4.3 like a champ. I'm sure, 4.4 would have been no exception.
  • WHAT? I bought a Nexus to get the latest Android, it's less than 2 years old and no 4.4? Doesn't this just defeat the whole purpose of getting a pure device?!
  • I also find this difficult to believe. Can't understand why they'd leave the gnex behind already Sent from my Moto X
  • It's actually just about two years old... don't complain; no other phone that old has 4.2 let alone 4.3 or 4.4.
  • The TI processor in that phone is de-supported now, not to mention the extreme PITA in working with Verizon to release an update. Thank go I am moving back from Verizon to ATT. I should've never switched to begin with.
  • and they're sold out
  • I want kitkat screenshots and reviews not stories!
  • I want KIT KAT on my HTC ONE in the UK ASAP i don't wanna be waiting ages for it to come onto my network.
  • Ditto, just bought the HTC One today and it's still got 4.2.2.
  • I don't know why you settled if you wanted the latest OS. Right before I got the Note 3 about 2 weeks ago I still had the Thunderbolt. I waited until a phone came out that had everything I wanted. And don't say you expected the One to get 4.3. It very well may get it. But don't expect it.
  • Tell that to HTC and your network provider.
  • And that is why I sol my HTC ONE today. It was a damn good device. Beautiful and I even enjoyed some of HTC's stock features when I was not using a custom ROM, but instead of rooting and using buggy ROMs to get the true google experience I decided to buy into it. No more waiting for carriers or relying on developers
  • When do we get the new hang outs app? I want it!
  • Yup. This is pretty much the only thing I care about, everything else is kind of 'meh'.
  • It'll be rolling out within the next few weeks. Posted via Android Central App
  • can't believe they're dropping support for the galaxy nexus. if 4.4 kitkat is all about running on older devices and low end devices seeing that the gnex has 1gb of ram its your perfect example to show off all your hard work in kitkat
  • It's NOT about running on older devices, it's new low-end devices. That said, dropped support for the GNex is definitely baffling.
  • Maybe they're still deciding the fate of the G-Nex. Posted from my HTC EVO 4G LTE via Android Central App
  • You can thank verizon ----------------------------------------------------
    My S-Pen went through hell to deliver this important message to you
  • And TI for dropping support for mobile phones.
  • I can't wait! I have the Nexus 10.1 so I'm getting it! Bring on the the Kit Kat deliciousness.
  • Same :) Sent from my Moto X
  • *Nexus 10 :P
  • I demand to know when my carrier-branded device will get the 4.4 update! I must know now! Posted from my HTC EVO 4G LTE via Android Central App
  • I see the specifications, but the question remains: Does this device work on Verizon (LTE and CDMA)?
  • No.
  • The question doesn't stand. It's been answered over and over. If Samsung made penis implants, would they have TouchWiz? - dchawk81
  • The question doesn't stand. It's been answered over and over. If Samsung made penis implants, would they have TouchWiz? - dchawk81
  • So far all reports I've seen say that Verizon won't support it. But since it's coming to Sprint, that means that the technology is at least possible. I say blame Verizon.
  • How many times is this question going to be asked? It will not work on Verizon. Period.You might be lucky to get LTE to work, but the bands haven't even been deployed in that many markets, yet. Buying this to use on Verizon is a big waste of money. If you're on Verizon, the Moto X is as close to stock as you're going to get. Hell, they won't even authorize the Nexus 7 for their LTE network. And that was planned.
  • Or you can buy any Verizon phone you want and put a pure AOSP ROM on it like a real man
  • Putting a custom ROM on your phone makes you a real man...LOL
  • Sprint supports it. Says so on Play store page in specs section.
  • Sprint != Verizon ----------------------------------------------------
    My S-Pen went through hell to deliver this important message to you
  • Any battery percentage in the task bar? Or will this take another 5 versions? Posted via Android Central App
  • My note has it ----------------------------------------------------
    My S-Pen went through hell to deliver this important message to you
  • Question: Will the new camera app in the Nexus 5 come to the Nexus 4 with the 4.4 update? In particular, the HDR+ mode?
  • At least this SHOULD get rid of the usual response from OEMs when asked about updates when a new version is available. The old "evaluating performance" or w/e bullshit they say Posted via Android Central App
  • That "Yellow-pages" function is pretty neat. Also, Google Drive - Quick Office integration is HUGE for me. It was annoying having to manually upload a file from quick office to Drive and vice-versa.
  • What I want to hear more about is Host Card Emulation and if this will allow for NFC payments using Google Wallet on Verizon. If so I wants me some Kit Kat right now!
  • Any word on the rumored play store availability of the 4.4 launcher apk? Posted via Android Central App
  • I hope it handles voice recognition always on better than the apps available. They KILL your battery if that option is on.
  • *depending on the phone. Your milage may vary ----------------------------------------------------
    My S-Pen went through hell to deliver this important message to you
  • Battle Of The Titans – Nexus 5 VS HTC One - http://goo.gl/8mpQpw Which is the smartphone for you? The newly announced Nexus 5 or the ever reliable HTC One?
  • Wonder why googel didnt do the Keynote or i/o for this launch of nexus 5 and Kitkat 4.4. It would have been usual. But i think i like it this way just launch the product no need of keynote or I/O and also more than half of the information was already leaked on kitkat 4.4 and nexus 5 before the launch. Good job google hope you release more updates in a year and please keep doing more and more experiments labs. Actually add more labs for android.
  • I have the Nexus 10.1 WiFi only tablet but still have not gotten the kit Kat. Anyone have the Nexus 10 tablet get the Kit Kat update yet? It was released more than two weeks ago and waiting. Why haven't I gotten it yet? I'm on stock so not rooted.
  • KitKat 4.4.4 super