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
Executive Editor

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.