There is more than one tech company on the block that can build up crazy anticipation for a new product release. About two months ago, Google announced Android 4.4, dubbed KitKat. (Yes the candy bar.) Then they released teaser videos.
The most perceptive of Android fans keyed in on Google's statement made on the Android KitKat page: "It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience for everybody."
Did you catch that? Everybody! Enough guessing, Google finally released KitKat on Halloween (the biggest day of the year for KitKat candy bars and the day we all should have predicted for Android 4.4's release).
Here are some highlights:
Android for everyone Remember "everybody"? Google has reduced Android's memory usage, allowing it to run on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM. This means not only high-end smartphones can run this latest version of Android but also entry level devices, which are more prevalent around the rest of the world. This is a great play by Google to tighten its grip on the world smartphone market and capture "the next billion smartphone users."
Immersive mode Immersive mode hides everything except what's most important to you. No more conspicuous icons sitting on the screen waiting to be accidentally tapped. Imagine reading an e-book with nothing but the book's page on screen.
A better listener Borrowing from the touchless voice search feature on the Moto X and Google Now, KitKat users can start things off from their home screen by simply saying "OK Google" to launch search, send a text, and more. And with improved speech recognition the OS will ask you for clarification if its unsure of what you're asking.
NFC Is Google Wallet coming back? KitKat emulates NFC-enabled payment and reward cards, allowing users to tap to initiate transactions with an app of their choice.
Printing Print from your Android apps over Wi-Fi or cloud-hosted services such as Google Cloud Print. With print-enabled apps, you can print any kind of document, image, or file as well as perform a number of tasks including discover available printers, change paper sizes, choose specific pages to print, and more.
Improved battery life KitKat supports hardware sensor batching, which enables device hardware to collect and deliver sensor events efficiently in batches, rather than individually—dramatically reducing power consumption and saving your battery.
Athletic potential KitKat also supports two new composite sensors: step detector and step counter. We're already envisioning a throng of new fitness apps.
Better contacts All the people you contact the most, prioritized. You can also search across your contacts, nearby places, and even Google Apps accounts, making it easier to locate and call contacts.
Caller ID Smarter, the way caller ID should be. If the caller is not in your contacts list, your phone looks for matches from businesses with a local listing on Google Maps.
All your messages in one place Using the Hangouts app, you can now keep all your SMS and MMS messages together in one place, along with your voice and video calls. The upside: you never miss a call, no matter how someone is trying to reach you.
For more info about KitKat, check out Google's official page.
Gotta have it?
KitKat will come standard the Nexus 5—a loaded device with a hi-res 5-inch display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 8MP OIS camera and more—which is available now for Sprint and T-Mobile (and at RadioShack, unlocked and sans contract starting at $349.) It's also available on Google Play in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Korea and soon, India.
KitKat will soon be available on the Nexus 4, 7, 10; the Samsung Galaxy S4; and HTC One Google Play edition devices.