New Flavor of Android, Better Features

Google’s Android team officially announced the new features of Android version 4.4 Kitkat today. Most of the features are not surprising due to several leaks but the list is still impressive.

I picked 10 new features of Android 4.4 Kitkat that I think are the most important updates Google made on its mobile operating system.

Top 10 New Features of Android 4.4 Kitkat

1. Hands Free Voice Control

We’ve seen it coming with Moto X. Android 4.4 Kitkat now supports voice command without the need to touch your phone first. You just say “OK Google” and it will launch voice search.

However, you need to be on the home screen (available on Nexus 5 only) or on Google Now to benefit from this. Support for other devices may follow later with upgraded hardware.

2. Full Screen Mode without the Status Bar

Android 4.4 Kitkat can take advantage of your screen – all of it. You can hide the status bar to allow apps to take the entire screen and then swipe again to reveal the status bar.

3. Enhanced Calling Features

Android 4.4 Kitkat has an enhanced phone app that allows you to search for nearby people and places. This is very useful for people looking for services and also for business owners who want more exposure.

The new phone app also makes a list of your most talked to contacts and put them at the top. When an unknown person calls you, it searches Google Maps for listings of local businesses that match with the unknown number.

4. Integrated SMS and MMS with Hangouts

If you’re fond of using Hangouts on your phone, this is for you. Your SMS and MMS are now integrated with the Hangouts app such that you can see all your messages in there no matter where it came from.

Of course, they should add support for messages from other apps for this to be really great. Imagine having all your messages from Facebook, WeChat, Kakao Talk, BBM and SMS all in one place!

5. Native Emoji Support

Yeah, those cute smileys are now integrated with the Android Keyboard. This isn’t really a big surprise since many replacement keyboards already support Emoji and Android was just waiting next in line

6. Faster Switching Between Apps

Android 4.4 Kitkat managed to optimized memory usage and touchscreen responsiveness. This means better multitasking for those who open a lot of apps and then switch back and forth between them.

7. Native Online Printing and Cloud Storage Support 

This is a very useful new feature with Android 4.4 Kitkat. You can now print your documents on the go using Google Cloud Print. Just connect your printer to Google Cloud Print (here’s how) and you can then print using that printer as long as both the printer and your phone are connected to the internet.

Android 4.4 Kitkat’s file explorer also supports opening and saving files on different cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox now.

8. Bluetooth MAP and Chromecast Support

Bluetooth Message Access Profile (MAP) allows your phone to exchange messages with a car that also has Bluetooth.

Chromecast on the other hand allows you to display content from your phone to a TV wirelessly using a Chromecast device that you can buy for $35 here.

9. Longer Music Playback and Seeking from Lock Screen

Android 4.4 Kitkat takes advantage of the low power processor on the Nexus 5 that can play music longer – up to 60 hours!

You can also seek to any part of a song on the lock screen. That’s if you can take your eyes off the full screen album art.

10. App Sandboxing

The official Android website just used one sentence for this new feature on Android 4.4 Kitkat but I needs more attention. Many users install apps that could harm their phone and without sandboxing all they can do is wait and see if the app has detrimental effect to the phone.

It’s the first time that Android provided sandboxing feature for its apps. It’s the same as Samsung’s Knox that uses Security-Enhanced Linux to enforce security protocols on a app.

There you have it – my top 10 new features of Android 4.4 Kitkat. Check out the full list of new features here.