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KitKat - The latest delicacy from Android

Feb 17, 2014 by Adrian

Android KitKatThe battle for the best mobile operating system (OS) between Apple and Google is not going to end soon, in spite of Microsoft's attempts to catch up with them, as both Apple and Google seem to have infinite development resources. Right now, Google is ready to take on iOS 7 with its new mobile OS, Android 4.4 – codenamed KitKat.

As opposed to iOS 7, which brought a major makeover, Google’s new mobile OS comes as an evolution rather than a revolution. Still it looks like the changes are big enough to bring Android on the same level with the latest mobile OS from Apple.

Subtle changes, but good overall looks

One of the first things that can be noticed, after Android 4.4 starts, are the changes to the system and status bar, which are now transparent. Other menus (the apps menu for example) received a transparency effect as well, which contributes to a more smooth user experience.

The new "Immersive mode" (as Google calls it) allows the app to automatically hide everything from the screen, leaving the user with only what he wants to see, while the navigation buttons and status bar can be brought back with just a swipe on the edge of the screen (this should have been already implemented in Ice Cream Sandwich, in my opinion).

Also, the status and system bars can benefit from a semi-transparent effect in some apps, and it can be drawn behind them, offering KitKat a good balance between screen space and content visibility.

A long awaited performance increase

The well-known Android fragmentation (hopefully) ends with KitKat, thanks to the diligence of some developers from Google who participated in Project Svelte and didn't back down to sacrifice a Nexus 4. KitKat is designed to run smoothly and fast, even on devices which only have 512MB RAM, providing this way an upgrade possibility for millions of users who got stuck with Android Gingerbread.

Also, thanks to various optimizations to the memory and improvements to the touchscreen, Android KitKat is capable of faster multitasking and increased touch accuracy. So listening to music and playing the latest game is now done without any hitches - pretty cool :)

Wait…there's more!

A new voice option in KitKat allows the user to say "OK Google", while in the home screen, in order to launch voice search, play a song, send a text message or perform other actions. The Email app received some important updates as well, and now resembles its bigger brother, Gmail.

The new Google Keyboard benefits now from a full emoji (fancier, colorful, and full figured emoticons) experience: full colored symbols can be chosen now from the keyboard and sent to other Android users.

However sweet KitKat is, some changes have not been very well received by users, such as: the messaging app and Hangouts (Google's own chat system) fusion into the same app. Also, the camera hasn't got a good app, Android's stock camera app is still...let's say, not so good. Another weak point is the multitasking, which hasn't been updated.

In my opinion, Android KitKat brings a series of improvements, making it comparable with its Apple counterpart - the visuals are clearly an improvement and the performance is really great, especially on high-end smartphones (entry-level devices will benefit from this latest version too). Also, I think that KitKat lives up to its symbol, and the "chocolate" surely is sweeter than previous sweets :) What do you think?


Tags: Android  Google  iOS  OS 


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