Best Android Apps, December 2013

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Check out the latest and greatest in apps for your Android device with our monthly app roundup.


Humble Bundle

Name your price, and it’s all in a good cause.
 
Name your price | By: Various developers | Download fromwww.humblebundle.com
OK, so we’re cheating a little this month with Humble Bundle for Android, because it’s more of an app resource than an app, but we’re comfortable with stretching the rules a little this one time, because Humble Bundle is definitely something you should know about.
Every few months or so, the HB team curates a selection of some of the best Android games available and sells them in a special collection for which you can pay whatever you want (and decide where the money goes). Humble Bundle is also available on desktop, but on mobile it’s an Android exclusive (as other OSs restrict side-loading apps). Sign up to keep in the loop when the next HB hits, and check out the HB Beta app too, which lets you manage your purchases.

Microsoft Remote Desktop

 
Price: Free | By: Microsoft | Download from: Google Play
There’s already a number of remote control and remote desktop style apps out there in the mobile marketplace (with Splashtop being one of the most prominent apps), and once you’re invested in one that works well for you most users are probably happy to stay put.
But Remote Desktop, a new release from Microsoft, is worth a look. For starters it’s free (on both Android and iOS), and doesn’t require you to install any client software on the host PC like most other solutions. However, this comes with a significant caveat: to support Remote Desktop your Windows PC of choice will need to be a Pro/Enterprise/Ultimate variant of the OS. Entry-level Home editions (including Windows 8) aren’t supported out of the box.

Rdio

 
Price: Free | By: Rdio | Download from: Google Play
There’s an awful lot of competition in the streaming music space, and it’s only getting tighter with tech giants like Google and Apple muscling in on the territory staked out by Spotify and Co. While some of the services on the market offer free streaming options (in addition to commercial subscriptions), it seems none have been willing to let their mobile apps provide this functionality — with the exception of Guvera, which offers free ad-supported listening on mobile.
Rdio is the first of the big-name players to go free on mobile, offering its radio-esque Stations feature for free on Rdio mobile apps on Android and iOS (and with no ads to boot). There’s about a zillion stations on offer, including genres and artist-specific playback. Free and no ads: simply awesome.

Delver

 

Price: $1.96 | By: Priority Interrupt | Download from: Google Play
Looking more than a tad like a Minecraft-inspired effort (or perhaps even Ultima Underworld, when the appearance of pixels wasn’t an ironic stylisation, if your memory stretches back that far), Delver is a nostalgia-flavoured first-person dungeon crawler that charges you with recovering the ‘Yithidian orb’. (That’s actually about as far as the plot goes.)
And the simplistic setup isn’t Delver’s only oddity. Each level is randomly generated, ensuring no two quests are ever the same, and the game also features a rather punishing ‘perma-death’ system: get slashed by too many swords or struck by too many mystic fireballs and your adventuring is over for good. A fun game, if a little difficult to get to grips with. Also available on Win/Mac/Linux.

How to Restore Access to App Ops in Android 4.4.2+

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app-ops-in-android-settings
Google removed access to App Ops, the hidden Android app permission manager interface, in Android 4.4.2. App Ops is still present in Android, however — with root access, we can get it back.
The cat-and-mouse game with Google’s Android developers continues. We’ll have to continue the battle until Google waves the white flag and admits that we users should be able to control access to our own private data.

Root + Xposed Framework + AppOpsXposed

This trick will allow us to regain access to the App Ops interface. To do this, we’ll need three things:
  • Root Access: Google has completely disabled access to App Ops for mere mortals, but it’s still available deep in the stock Android ROM as of 4.4.2. With full root access, we can take it back.
  • Xposed Framework: The Xposed Framework is a tool that allows us tomodify parts of the system that would normally require flashing a ROM. With the Xposed Framework and root access, we can make these sorts of system-level tweaks. These tweaks allow us to modify system apps at runtime without directly modifying their files.
  • AppOpsXposed: This Xposed Framework module restores access to App Ops and adds an App Ops option to Android’s main Settings app.
First, you’ll need to root your device. How you do this depends on your device. If you have a Nexus device, we like WugFresh’s Nexus Root Toolkit, which will walk you through the entire process.
nexus-root-toolkit-automated-rooting
Once rooted, you’ll need to enable the “Unknown Sources” option, download the Xposed framerwork Installer APK file from its official website, and install it on your device.
Launch the Xposed Installer after it’s installed, tap the Framework option, and tap Install/Update.
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With the framework installed, tap Modules in the app to view modules you can download. Scroll down and tap the AppOpsXposed module, then tap the Download button to install it.
install-appopsxposed
Enable the module in the Modules list and reboot your device to activate your tweaks.
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You’ll see an App Ops option in Android’s Settings app, where it belongs. Tap the app to access the now-unhidden App Ops interface.
restore-appops-in-android-4.4.2

Root + App Ops X 

If you already have root access, you can still use the paid App Ops X. App Ops X is an “eXtended” and recompiled version of Google’s App Ops tool with additional features. Once you pay for an in-app purchase, the installer app downloads App Ops X and uses its root access to install it to your system partition.

App Ops X is noteworthy because it continues to function normally on Android 4.4.2, even after Google broke the standard version of App Ops. If Google were to entirely remove the included version of App Ops on a newer version of Android released after 4.4.2, it’s possible that App Ops X would still continue to function and would become the best option.
If nothing else, this shows a path forward if Google were to remove App Ops entirely. Developers could recompile the App Ops interface and use root access to install it to the system partition. Google says that App Ops just exposes system APIs that are being used elsewhere in the system — for example, to restrict notification permissions or control which SMS app has the ability to send SMS messages. Thus, Google wouldn’t be able to stop us from doing this without removing access to the lower-level APIs themselves, even if they removed the interface entirely.
install-appops-x

CyanogenMod and Other Custom ROMs

Rather than start playing a cat-and-mouse game with Google’s Android developers, who may start attempting to break the App Ops interface and disable even these tricks in future versions of Android, you may just want to install a custom ROM.
For example, CyanogenMod includes its own permission manger that’s now based on App Ops. Cyanogenmod’s developers likely won’t remove access to App Ops in a minor update. Even before App Ops existed, Cyanogenmod incorporated its own app permission manager that allowed users to control what apps could and couldn’t do on their own devices.

Motorola Moto G Gets Android 4.4.2 KitKat Update Early

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That inexpensive Moto G smartphone continues to do things ahead of schedule by getting an early OS update. Motorola announced that it’s rolling out the Android 4.4.2 KitKat update to some of the handsets already, to Moto G phones that were purchased on Motorola’s website or Amazon in the U.S.

There’s no word on when carrier versions of the Moto G will see the KitKat update--Motorola simply says that’s all coming “soon”. 

Motorola Moto G

New features include enhanced touchless control so you can perform certain tasks without actually having to unlock your phone; improved Active Display to offer notifications even when the display is off; and the same Camera features of the Moto X, including drag-to-focus, manual exposure capabilities, exposure lock for panoramic shots, and more.

The Moto G is the less expensive alternative to the Moto X and costs just $179 off contract.

ANDROID 4.4 KITKAT STARTS SPREADING

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Google has announced Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of its mobile operating system, and while we know it’ll make its debut on the Nexus 5, how long will we have to wait for it to make an appearance on other phones? Information has been coming through from various sources, and there’s good news almost all round.

Here’s a rundown of all the official announcements, along with any less formal news we’ve heard, to make sure you know when the new version of Android is coming for your device.

Updated on 12/20/2013 by Andy: As the year comes to an end, manufacturers are busily preparing Android 4.4 updates. Motorola in particular has been hard at work, and has now announced the new software for the Moto G and Verizon’s Droid range.

Google and its Nexus hardware

Android 4.4 KitKat has slightly deviated from the tradition of previous versions, which all debuted on Nexus hardware, by deciding to also hit the Verizon Moto X at around the same time. Don’t worry though, Google confirmed Android 4.4 KitKat will come to the Nexus 4 smartphone, plus the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablet. The Google Editions of the Galaxy S4 and the HTCOne will also be getting some chocolatey Android goodness.

As of November 12, the Nexus 7 (both 2012 and 2013 models) and the Nexus 10 should start getting the update, and although no official word has come through, reports spread on November 20 that it’s starting to arrive on Nexus 4 smartphones too. Eagle-eyed Nexus fans will notice the Galaxy Nexus isn’t included in the list, and sure enough, the two-year old phone won’t be getting any more Google love.
HTC One updates soon



Moving on to other manufacturers, HTC talked about getting Android 4.4 on its devices almost immediately after it was announced. According to the president of HTC America, Google Editions of the One would be first on the list, and the developer and unlocked versions would join it by the end of November. He went on to say HTC One phones locked to a network should see it around February 2014 or earlier if everything went well.

A tweet sent though the HTC USA Twitter account on November 13 confirmed the update for the Google Play edition of the HTC One was with Google, and that it was responsible for pushing the update. A Google+ post from the official Android account on November 26 confirmed the update was being sent out.

Subsequently, HTC also said Android 4.4 would be out for the Developer Edition and SIM-free HTC One before the end of November. It was right on the money too, as on November 29 it sent out another message saying Android 4.4 KitKat was out for unlocked One phones and the HTC One Developer Edition.

In the UK, HTC plans to have Android 4.4 and HTC Sense 5.5 for the One smartphone ready for the end of January 2014. As for the HTC One Max and One Mini, there’s no date at this time, but the update for both will arrive in the near future.
Samsung’s KitKat updates are coming

While HTC is working hard to keep us informed about Android 4.4, Samsung hasn’t been quite so forthcoming about its plans. In a statement provided to CNet UK, it says it will be announcing rollout plans for Android 4.4, “In due course.” We’d imagine the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3 will be at the top of Samsung’s list for updates, with the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy S3both prime candidates too.

Samsung has announced update schedules in the past, then been burned by missing self-imposed deadlines, so it’s no surprise to see them keeping quiet. We also wonder if maintaining compatibility with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch will slow things down, as Android 4.3 is still only just rolling out to some S4 owners.

While Samsung hasn’t provided any official statements, French network SFR hasn’t been able to control itself. In a brief blog post, it says an update to Android 4.4 will be coming for the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3 in late January or early February next year. While it’s talking about its own devices, if network locked updates for those two devices really are coming at that time, we should see unlocked phones getting Android 4.4 around the same time, if not a little before. We doubt Samsung will share any news until it’s ready to be sent out, but at least this gives us hope.

As for the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Edition, a post on the official Android Google+ page confirmed the new version was sent out on November 26.
Motorola Moto X and Moto G top of its list



Thanks to Motorola’s website dedicated to software updates, it confirms the Moto X will be getting Android 4.4. The first Moto X’s to get a taste are those connected to Verizon, and Motorola has confirmed a staggered rollout will begin on November 19. Those with Moto X phones on other networks should be getting good news very soon.

Digging through Motorola’s upgrade list, Verizon’s Droid Mini, Droid Ultra, and Droid Maxx are also all scheduled to get the new software, and the newly released Motorola Moto G is also getting Android 4.4 KitKat before January 2014.

On December 19 via a tweet, Verizon announced it had started updating the Droid Ultra, Droid Mini, and Droid Maxx to Android 4.4 KitKat. It says the new version is being delivered in stages, so if it’s not already waiting on your phone, it will be coming very soon.

Motorola is ahead of schedule with its Moto G update, having confirmed in a blog post that U.S. versions of the phone will be receiving Android 4.4 updates from December 19, and not next year as originally promised. It says phones purchased through Amazon and Motorola are first on the list, while Moto G phones bought from networks will follow soon.
Sony to update modern Xperia hardware

Sony has talked about its plans for Android 4.4, and it’s all good news. The company will be updating its Xperia Z, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Zl, and the Xperia Tablet Z to the latest version of Google’s mobile OS. Like most others, it doesn’t provide an arrival date, and says the launch will be “phased” and depend on where you live and the network on which you’re registered.
LG’s on a diet, avoiding KitKat until March 2014

As LG is responsible for the Nexus 5, we’d been expecting to hear something official about Android 4.4 KitKat for the LG G2 quite quickly. Instead, there were a few vague rumors from a French network about it coming in the new year, which were redacted soon after publication, before Canadian site MobileSyrup.com said it had been informed by LG that Android 4.4 wouldn’t be coming to the G2 until March 2014 at the earliest.

On December 15 we got our first piece of official news. LG published a short press release on its blog, saying the Android 4.4 KitKat update for the G2 was, “In progress,” in Korea. However, no specific release information was provided for international devices, only that we should expect another announcement in the future. It’s looking like the March 2014 estimate will, sadly, be accurate.
Huawei to update flagship Ascend P6

Huawei has confirmed on the Sina Weibo social network it would be skipping Android 4.3, and instead working on having Android 4.4 KitKat ready for the Ascend P6 smartphone. It’s hoped the software will be ready by January 2014, but it’s not clear when it’ll be distributed internationally.

It’s important to remember the dates provided by manufacturers are rarely set in stone, and can change. Along with any issues which may turn up as the software is worked on, we shouldn’t forget that updates must also pass through the networks for approval, a process which can take several weeks. Even when it gets the green light, distribution is usually staggered to help identify any previously unseen problems, meaning it could take a while to get to your phone.



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Google Android 4.4 KitKat

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Google Android 4.4 builds on the success of Jelly Bean with KitKat, a powerful mobile operating system that makes up for its lack of candy coating with a solid framework. You can look forward to always listening Google Now, a new dialer that brings the power of search to your phone calls, and tons of tweaks under the hood to make this the slickest version of Android to date. But despite being fast and reliable, there's not much new for users to sink their teeth into with KitKat. Android users waiting for a response to the bold redesign of Apple's iOS 7 will have to wait, because KitKat is pretty much status quo.
Setting Up Your KitKat
I've always been impressed with Android's setup process, which walks you through the core features of the OS while you enter your information. Once you've set up your phone to the appropriate language, Wi-Fi network, and so on, a series of transparent overlays point out useful features including Google Now and the improved notification tray. Apple, on the other hand, makes you guess at the new features.
Google Android 4.4 KitKat
Your phone doesn't require a Google account, but it can't do much without one.  I was a bit annoyed that I had to log in twice, once in the OS and again on a Google Web page, to access my two-factor secured account. I expected that a device so closely tied to Google's services would handle security with a little more grace. It also bothered me that the powerful anti-theft tool Android Device Manager was not featured during the setup process. Users should know that the Device Manager is available and encouraged to make use of it. That said, I did like that the service is fully activated on my KitKat phone, an Editors' Choice winning Nexus 5$448.00 at Amazon, requiring no additional setup from me.
InterfaceIf you're coming from a Samsung phone, as I was, you'll probably notice that KitKat is a far sleeker and more subtle experience than you've seen before. It's also lightning-fast; the OS felt like it was positively leaping at me on the Nexus 5.
Google Android 4.4 KitKat
The color scheme is traditional gray and light blue, with some colors flipped from the previous version. The biggest aesthetic change is that Google has done away with the ever-present black bar across the top, letting the time and battery level hover above the wallpaper. 
A neat extra: Wallpapers move slightly beneath your apps as you swipe left and right, giving you a sense of depth and movement. It's not as whizz-bang as iOS 7's parallax effect, but it feels enjoyably futuristic.

Google pioneered features like the notification tray, where swiping down from the top reveals alerts and also controls for some app functions like music playback in Play Music. There's also a flip-able tile in the notification tray for fast access to settings such as Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode. Apple introduced some of these features into iOS 7, but Android keeps it simple with just a single pane. However, tablet users should note that KitKat retains the annoying twin pulldown menus—one for notifications and the other for settings.
With KitKat, Google has further expanded the role of its new Hangouts app. At first, it merely handled Google+ text and video chat, but it has since subsumed Google Talk, and now in 4.4, it swallows up SMS messaging as well. I actually found it quite convenient to handle all my chatting from a single interface. But it does push instant messaging toward an SMS model where everyone is available all the time. You can now set moods and availability messages, but you can never shut off Hangouts—only suppress its notifications.
Google Android 4.4 KitKat
Hangouts is also a great place for Google to debut its new emojis. These funny and bizarre images can be mixed in with text, but are special characters and not sticker-like images. You'll find a startlingly large array of faces, animals, and arcane symbols in here. Compared with Apple's emojis, I actually preferred Google's, which are bigger and more colorful. Best of all, the emoticons map to Apple's emoji keyboard, so anyone with an iPhone or Android will also see what you're trying to say. Many of the new features in Hangouts are available to all Android users who download the updated app, not just to KitKat users.
Google, determined to make NFC payments a thing, has baked in support for key NFC actions to KitKat. Google is using its own open architecture for NFC payments so any KitKat phone, regardless of wireless carrier, can be used as a digital wallet in brick-and-mortar stores. I tested it with the Google Wallet app, but it apparently works with other NFC payment apps as well. The biggest challenge with NFC payments remains the rarity of stores equipped to handle them.
Google Android 4.4 KitKat
Even the humble calling app has been visually refreshed with an infusion of search data. For instance, Android will apparently search Google Maps for the phone numbers of unknown callers, in case any of them happen to be listed businesses. It also lets you search by text or voice; in testing the feature, I said "The Compleat Strategist," and it searched my contacts as well as the Web to find the number of a nearby game shop. While nice, it's one more personal information setting to worry about. Adjust your Google Account settings online to keep people from finding your Google Account by searching your phone number.
Google Now first appeared in Jelly Bean, and the Moto X$499.99 at Amazon was the first phone that was always listening for the "OK Google" voice command, which activates Google Now. In Android 4.4, Google Now and the "always listening" voice search features are center stage and a remarkable and integral part of the KitKat experience.
Note that, unfortuantely, not every phone that runs KitKat takes advantage of the always listening features. My Nexus 4 $379.89 at Amazon responded to my voice, but a colleague'sSony Z Ultra Google Play Edition did nothing.
Google Android 4.4 KitKat
At its most basic, Google Now returns Google search results using its amazing speech-to-text technology. I had no trouble searching for Korean food, even with my mouth full of Korean food. However, Google Now delivers its best content on special cards, like weather, stocks, and driving directions. For example, it was easy to check if it was raining and then get directions to my favorite comic shop Bergen Street Comics, without ever touching my phone.
While Google Now does a great job transcribing my speech, I had to speak in specific operators, which didn't feel as natural as using Apple's Siri. "OK Google, directions from home to work" delivers a very useful map card while "OK Google, get directions home" does nothing useful.
Google Android 4.4 KitKat
It got on my nerves that Google Now dumps you into search results whenever it can't pull up a card. I felt like I was being misunderstood. For example, both Siri and Google Now can create new alarms, but they can't edit existing ones. Ask Siri to cancel an alarm and she says she can't; ask Google Now, and you'll get search results for "cancel my alarm." Say what you will about Siri's fake personality, but she often explains the system's limitations rather than leave you guessing. Both are much better than Windows Phone's Speech, which can call, text, open apps, and search the Web, but little else.
Despite these annoyances, Google Now does quite well when stacked up against Apple's Siri.  I prefer Google Now's graphical cards, and I really liked how it remained available on the far-left pane of the home screen—unlike Siri which vanishes once you're done. Google Now is at its best when cards are available, though it also provides a great way to quickly pull information from the Web.
Beyond Google Now, one of Android's defining features is the ability to place custom widgets on your lockscreen or homescreen. Apple's rigid grid of apps and tightly controlled system don't allow for that. Instead, you're meant to ask Siri about whatever you need. 
Little Extras
If you love Android but you don't care for how Android looks, you can always replace the default launcher with something more to your taste.  In KitKat, Google has reached out to these modders (and, perhaps, the providers who mask Google's work behind their own custom interfaces) with a new settings option to manage all your launchers.
KitKat has made it easier to change your phone's wallpaper, too, and even lets you reorganize whole pages of apps on your home screen. Just tap and hold the home screen. Also, the Swype-like gesture typing and predictive typing Google Keyboard is still standard on KitKat devices.
Taking a page from iOS, Android 4.4 now fills your lockscreen with album art while music is playing. Also in the eye-candy department is the new Immersive Mode that fills the screen with app content, pushing nav bars out of sight. This last feature is best experienced in the Play Books app where eBooks and magazines fill the entire screen for a great reading experience.
Most of the improvements in Android 4.4 won't be immediately obvious to users, but developers will surely appreciate them. For instance: Google's developer documentation crows that KitKat is more efficient than ever, requiring as little as 512MB of RAM to operate. This is a great move for Google, potentially opening up a world of lower-end smartphones in developing countries and older devices that have languished on older versions of Android. But users on current-generation phones will probably only notice that Android feels crisper and more responsive.
Along with improved efficiency in the OS are more efficient tools for developers. Users probably won't notice that pedometer apps like Moves are using Android 4.4's step-counting tools instead of rolling their own, but they might notice a slight boost in battery life.
When it comes to apps, Google definitely has an impressive collection in Google Play, but they rarely feel as polished and well-made as iOS apps. Android also requires you to accept all permissions requested by an app when you download it, while iOS provides some finer grain controls.
I couldn't test all the features in Android 4.4 since some, such as the built-in support for IR blasters to change TV channels, weren't supported by my Nexus 5 or my Nexus 7Best Price at Amazon. Other features, like closed captioning, didn't appear to be used by any apps I could find (not even Google apps). Still others, like active application sandboxes hardened with Security-Enhanced Linux and increased cryptographic capability just aren't accessible to users. Oh well.
Philosophical Differences
Android is smarter, leaner, faster, and more capable than ever—and though it currently lacks exciting new features it's still a strong contender against that other mobile heavyweight: iOS 7. But  iOS 7 distinguishes itself with a very powerful design language that governs everything from the visual appearance to how you're encouraged to interact with the device. Likewise, BlackBerry 10 has an emphasis on moving "forward" and a central communication hub, while Windows Phone 8 bet big with a bold tile interface. That's not to say that Android is broken, but it doesn't always feel logical or designed.
Instead of high-design, Android offers a clean frame for developers, carriers, and even users to build upon. Anyone can go onto Google Play and download themes to dramatically change the look and feel of their Android device. In fact, most people will probably experience Android 4.4 as seen through a custom interface from a hardware manufacturer or a wireless carrier (if at all). If you want Android 4.4, seek it out in its purest form on phones like the Nexus 5 and the Moto X.
The mobile environment has been defined by the tension between the four main operating systems but now more than ever it feels like the ball is in Google's court to make Android feel fresh and innovative. Android 4.4 is an excellent mobile operating system that outdoes its predecessor, but it feels more status quo than forward thinking when compared to the competition. Windows 8.1 is a bold statement about usability and what it means to be mobile, but its weak app store and slow adoption rate make it a dark horse. BlackBerry 10 suffers from its association with itself. iOS helped define what a mobile operating system should be, and its seventh version balances great user experience with strict design. Backed by the excellent App Store and a modernized new look, it gets an Editors' Choice for mobile operating systems. 
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Android 4.4 KitKat release date, news, reviews and features

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Forget iOS 7, Android 4.4 is where it's at. Richard takes a look at what's new

Android KitKat 4.4 is now out in the wild, admittedly in a limited capacity at this stage.
While then new version might not be a massive overhaul in terms of functionality, it's a signficiant face-lift on the UI design front, with a noticably lighter and brighter interface freed from this heavy, dark bar elements at the top and bottom.
Icons are also bigger, while Google Now has been fully integrated into the launcher. The general idea is to make Android nicer to look at and easier to use.
Read on to find out all the details about Google's latest chocolate flavoured OS.
[Scroll down for Android 4.4 update schedule]
Android 4.4 is a pretty significant update, one that sees both UX changes and plenty of new features added. A lot has also gone under the hood, but anyone using a stock version of theplatform will immediately notice subtle differences in the design, layout, look and feel of the platform.
Icons are bigger, the app tray has been re-designed and Google Now is a lot more influential inside the OS. Android 4.4 is currently only available on Google’s Nexus devices –– specifically, the Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (both versions), Nexus 4 and Nexus 10. Unfortunately there is no support for the Samsung-built Galaxy Nexus S.
Below is everything you need to know about Google’s brand-spanking new iteration of Android complete with update news, features, reviews and tips and tricks. Take a break, have a KitKat, and enjoy…

Moto G begins receiving Android 4.4 KitKat in US

Google and Motorola informed us a while back that its Moto G handset would be receiving the latest Android update, 4.4.2 KitKat, early in 2014. That’s now been pushed forward and Moto G handsets will begin receiving the update from today. Motorola announced the news on its blog saying, “When we launched Moto G last month, we committed to delivering Android, KitKat, to devices by early 2014. We are thrilled to start delivering on that promise early.”
Phones bought on Motorola.com or Amazon.com in the US will receive the update starting today. The roll out will then continue to other regions soon but no news on any official dates just yet.
The blog continued, “This update continues our effort to get our users the latest Android software as fast as humanly possible. We began by pushing KitKat out to Moto X users on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, just weeks after Google announced the new OS.”
With the update comes all the features below:
Android™ 4.4, KitKat®Android 4.4.2, KitKat, is the latest release of the Android platform. KitKat includes enhancements such as restyled status and navigation bars, a new full-screen mode, color emoji support, improved closed captioning support, stronger security, smarter power use, and more tools and capabilities for better app development.
Phone dialerImproved the phone app with the ability to look up contacts directly from the dial pad, see and tap frequent contacts, and search your corporate directory easily.
Camera - Focus and exposureEnhanced the "touch to focus" option with a new circular, on screen control that can be dragged by your finger around the viewfinder to adjust a photo's focus and exposure.
Gallery - Photo editingAdded new photo editing options to the Gallery app including new filter effects, draw on your photos, advanced cropping, and adjustments to color, exposure, contrast and more.
Printing documents and picturesAdded support for printing photos, Google Docs, GMail messages, and other content via Wi-FiBluetooth and hosted services like Google Cloud Print and HP ePrinters.
Hangouts -SMS/MMS supportIncorporated a new version of Google Hangouts that supports integrated SMS/MMS messaging. Hangouts can be set as the default SMS app under Settings > Wireless > Default SMS app.
Accessory supportAdded support for Square credit card reader.
It could still be a wait until 2014 before the UK sees the Moto G update but at least the update has started now. US readers will soon be receiving that KitKatty goodness

Galaxy S4 and Note 3 getting KitKat in late January

A mobile phone carrier has announced when Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Note 3 will be getting the Android 4.4 KitKat update.
French carrier SFR sent out a statement saying the S4 and Note 3 will receive the update from the end of January. The S4 will receive it before January is over and the Note 3 will be updated at the beginning of February. SFR has said exact rollout dates will come later when it knows more.
Although it’s up to each networks discretion, it’s likely the rollout will happen around the globe in a similar time frame. Some may receive the update before France but SFR has so far been the only company to make any announcement regarding the KitKat update. Hopefully Samsung users will be receiving some tasty Nestle goodness to kick the new year off.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Google Play edition gets 4.4.2

The Google Play edition of the Sony Xperia Z Ulta is receiving an update to Android 4.4.2. Other Google Play edition devices such as the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and LG G Pad 8.3 have already received the update.
The update brings a solution for a bug which stopped users being able to install apps. Other bugs which have been sorted include security settings, a clear data problem and another that affected the performance of Google Now voice comands. It does come at a price though, the update is 448MB.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra was released as a Google Play Edition last week but is only available in the US. It’ll cost $649 but has that beautiful 6.4-inch display and is powered by no less than a Snapdragon 800 chipset. It’s one of the most powerful Sony devices on the market with the processor clocked at 2.2 GHz.

LG Optimus G receives Android 4.4 in Estonia

LG Optimus G Pro MWC 2013
LG Optimus G Pro MWC 2013
Android 4.4 KitKat has started rolling out on the LG Optimus G, but only in Estonia. The update is only available for those on a certain network, Elisa, the second biggest in the country. LG’s G2, a much higher specced phone, is still on Android 4.2.2 in most regions.
LG have not commented when the update will be available in other countries. It also has not confirmed when other LG handsets will receive the update either. It’s a strange handset to update and a strange way of doing it. Most major OEMs have confirmed Android 4.4 updates for January 2014. 
And because Android 4.4 can run on 512MB of RAM, handset makers have very little excuses now for not getting a good deal of their devices up and running on the latest build of Android. 

Google takes away popular Gallery app

Android 4.4 KitKat brought about an upgraded, powerful photo editor to the Nexus 5. The app was called Gallery but it has since been removed from the newly launched Google Play edition devices. The LG G pad 8.3 and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra no longer come with the Gallery app installed.
Users have to use the Google+ Photos app which was available on previous devices. The photos app does offer editing as well but many believe it to be inferior to the Gallery app. For example, Gallery lets you create mirror images of pictures, straighten photos, rotate them and crop them. Google+ Photo’s only offers the options to crop and rotate images. Google haven’t confirmed that the Gallery app has gone for good.
Why would Google install a better app and get rid of it a couple of months down the line? Could there be a susbstantial update coming to the Google+ Photos app? If there is it’s likely to use everything Google learned from the Gallery app and apply the social elements from the Photos app. Only time will tell.

Nestle ensure competition winners receive Nexus 7 2013

As reported earlier this week, Nestle’s Nexus 7 competition backfired in India as winners received the older version of the tablet. Nestle ran a competition to promote Android 4.4 KitKat in partnership with Google in which 1000 winners around the world would receive a Nexus 7 2013.
Throughout the campaign an image of the Nexus 7 2013 was used for promotion, so a number of winners in India complained as they received 2012's Nexus 7. Nestle has now apologised and promised to supply all winners with the 2013 edition. Nestle took to Kit Kat’s Facebook page to say this,
"We are delighted to announce that winners of ‘Android Kit Kat promotion’ will receive the new 2013 Nexus 7 tablet. If you have received an earlier version of the device, we will contact you separately to get it replaced. The delivery schedule for the new dispatches as well as the procedure to be followed for replacement will be communicated shortly."

Android 4.4.2 coming to Nexus devices

It wasn’t long ago that the 4.4.1 update hit Nexus devices but Google users will soon be receiving the 4.4.2 update. The new update focuses on fixing a number of bugs, while 4.4.1 focussed on fuxing the Nexus 5's below par camera.
Google hasn’t stated the official changes yet, but according to Sprint, the changes involve a fix for clearing the VM indicator, a fix for delivery of the VM indicator, security enhancements and various additional software fixes.
The update is coming to the Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10. Users who didn’t receive 4.4.1 can update directly to 4.4.2 version as soon as it’s made available. 

Nestle competition winners promised Nexus 7 (2013), get Nexus 7 (2012) sans 4.4 instead

To help getting the buzz going around Android 4.4 KitKat, Nestle and Google teamed up for a genius competition which would see 1000 winners around the world getting a brand new Nexus 7 2013 running Android 4.4. At least that's what the competition winnders thought. Nestle handled the competition internationally, apart from the US which fell to Hershey, and the winners have now started to receive their Nexus 7 tablets.
Throughout the advertising campaign the image of the 2013 Nexus 7 tablet was used, but in India winners have been receiving the 2012 version. That version of the Nexus 7 doesn’t have the 2013’s improved display or chipset and doesn’t feature Android 4.4 KitKat.
The Terms and Conditions – the thing no one ever reads – of the competition do state, “The pictures of the prizes depicted on the press ads/posters/TVC’c/pack shots etc. are only representative and the actual prize may vary from the depiction.” 
The friendly competition has backfired on Nestle and KitKat, and punters in India are not very happy at all...
We hear you’re unhappy. Winners got the Nexus7 tabs available in India in Sept (contest date). The new version launched only in Nov.
— Kit Kat India (@KitKatIndia)December 7, 2013

KitKat could come to older mid-range Samsung devices

Samsung are looking into updating some older handsets to Android 4.4 KitKat. A leaked internal document has shown a bunch of handsets being investigated by Samsung. These include the Galaxy S4 mini, Galaxy SIII mini, Galaxy S Advance, Galaxy Ace 3, Galaxy Ace 2, Galaxy Core, Galaxy Frame and the Galaxy Fresh are involved. The shot below shows that there is the potential for a load more handsets further down the list.
These handsets have an enormous spread all over the world, it would make a lot of people really happy to get a KitKat update. Don’t expect it to be coming out very soon though, it seems like this is all still in the planning stages. 

How to manually update the Nexus 5

Pining for Android 4.4.1 on your Nexus 5? Well someone has worked out how to do it manually and has posted a helpful user guide. It’s understandable that you may want to update considering that fixed camera feature is prescent on 4.4.1 KitKat. If you’re well experienced in using commands then you should get stuck in but if not just wait for the OTA as this is going to get complicated.
Tom Dawson at Android Headlines explains,
  1. “Rename the downloaded .ZIP to something easier to type, we’ll use “android441.zip”
  2. Reboot your Nexus 5 into the bootloader by holding Power+Vol Down and then hit Vol Up to get to Recovery, press the Power button to boot into recovery
  3. When in recovery mode, use the volume keys to navigate to “Apply Update from ADB” and hit the power button
  4. Connect your Nexus 5 to your PC/Laptop
  5. Open a command prompt or terminal in the same folder as the OTA file (Windows users can hit “Ctrl+Shift+Right Click”) and type “adb devices” to check if your Nexus 5 is seen.
  6. Once there, just type “adb sideload android441.zip”
  7. Your Nexus 5 should take a little while to reboot and then you’ll be running Android 4.4.1, which you can check from the settings. Remember, if you’ve adjusted anything in the /system partition, the update will fail.”
It’s complicated so only get involved if you trust yourself. If you do decide to get stuck in, however, the link for the download file from Google is here

Android 4.4 KitKat causing problems with Nexus 4

Nexus 4 owners are reporting a number of problems since updating to Android 4.4 KitKat. The update was available for Nexus 4 and has been causing some users issues. Problems reported include the phone dialler not working, the lock-screen...locking up and becoming unusable and the home button stopping altogether. Other problems include faster battery drain, lag in the phones performance and the device shutting down unexpectedly.
One Twitter user advises returning to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean whilst Google irons out the problems.
Due to various performance issues and malfunctioning hot-spot feature on Android 4.4 KitKat, I've just downgraded my Nexus 4 to Jelly Bean.
Yikes. Anyone else experiencing issues? 
Android KitKat now up and running on 1.1% of Droids
Google has released its monthly Android distribution figures which now include version 4.4 of its mobile OS. According to the data, Android 4.4 KitKat is now up and running on 1.1% of Droids. But that's hardly surprising given it is currently only available on Nexus handsets.
Android Jelly Bean 4.3 jumped significantly from 2.3% in October to 4.2% in the latest figures. Both 4.1 increased by 0.1% to 37.4% of installs and 4.2 increased 0.4% to 12.9%.
In the meantime Android 2.2 Froyo, 2.3 Gingerbread and 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwhich continued to drop as more and more Android users update to Jelly Bean. Android 3.2 Honeycomb is still included in the list with 0.1% share. 

LG G2 will get Android 4.4 update in Q1 2014

The LG G2 will receive an OTA update to Android 4.4 in Q1 2014, according to LG Canada’s Court Elliot. The LG Rep said the update would begin rolling out in late-Q1, “or towards the end of March”, according to Mobile Syrup.
Android 4.4 will be seeded to networks around the same time but unlocked handsets will likely get access to the update first. Prior to Elliot’s omission, reports suggested the G2 might get its 4.4 update as early as December.
Was Elliot just referring to Canadian G2 handsets only? It’s possible. But whether this means the original rumours of a December release for 4.4 are true is another thing entirely. LG is remaining rather tight-lipped about its update plans, meaning we have very little concrete evidence to go on – other than Elliot's Q1 2014. 
As it stands, the LG G2 – at least in Canada – will be getting Android 4.4 before the end of March 2014. We’ve reached out to LG for comment on its UK plans for the LG G2 and will update as soon as we know more. 

DoubleTwist redesigned for Android 4.4: The best media solution for Android just got a lot better

DoubleTwist has redesigned its smartphone and tablet application for Android 4.4, implementing a cleaner UX with a focus on images and album artwork.
Support for wireless streaming to Apple TV, Xbox 360, PS3 and other AirPlay DLNA compatible devices is also still present, creating one of the most robust media solutions available on Google’s Android platform.
If you’re not familiar with DoubleTwist, the app is essentially an iTunes conduit for Android that lets users sync iTunes libraries with an Android device. In the beginning that was all it did, but over the years DoubleTwist has added in a raft of features, making the app one of the best-loved media propositions inside Google Play.
The company has also developed an open-source version of Apple's AirPlay technology for wireless streaming, making streaming even easier between compatible devices. So if you don’t already have it installed on your Droids, perhaps it’s time to head on over to Google Play and get this sucker downloaded?

Android KitKat 4.4 was optimised on a Nexus 4 with 512MB of RAM

It appears Android KitKat might be the most optimisied build to date as reports indicate Google's engineers were forced to streamline the software on specially setup Nexus 4 handsets with 512MB of RAM onboard.
ReadWrite's Dan Rowinski, interviewd Google's head of engineering, Dave Burke, who explained the approach to further optimising Android KitKat.
The move followed Google's development of Project Butter in Android Jelly Bean, a series of UI latency optimisations to make things run as smoothly as possible. The new project for KitKat, codenamed Project Svelte, aimed to build on this further.
"The goal of Project Svelte was basically to reduce the memory footprint to fit into 512 megs. The way we did it, by the way ... was to take a Nexus 4 and adapt it to run at 512 megs," said Burke.
Burke also outlined the goals of the project:
  • Reduce the footprint of the system.
  • Reduce the footprint (memory usage) of the apps that run on a Google Experience (Nexus) device. 
  • Fix how apps react and crash during bad memory situations.
  • Provide better measurement and instrumentation of how apps are running in Android so developers can see how memory-conscious their apps are.
"We adapted the resolution to qHD that is 960-by-540 because that is kind of the sweet spot for entry level smartphones,” he added.
“We reduced it from four CPUs to two CPUs. We reduced the clock frequency and whatnot. And literally a bunch of us just used that as our default phone. It was painful and it was broken to start with."

Android 4.4 KitKat: Some Tasty Tips & Tricks

If you’ve already picked up a Nexus 5 –– Congrats! –– it’s an awesome phone, perhaps even one of the best Android handsets of the year. The specs are great, the hardware is plentiful, it runs the latest build of Android (4.4) and it costs just £299 off contract. What’s not to like?
So what about Android 4.4 KitKat? Below are some handy tips and tricks that’ll ensure you get the most out of your new handset. We’ll be adding more as and when we discover them. But for now here’s our current pick. 

Get “Okay, Google” working in UK 


Google’s always-on Google Now feature –– the one where you say, “Okay, Google” –– for some reason does not work when you have your handset’s language settings on English UK.
Why this is the case is unclear. Fortunately, there’s a work a round. All you have to do is go into Google Now –– swipe left from the Home screen –– go into Settings (three dots in the bottom right corner), then Voice and Select Language and reset it to English US. “Okay, Google” will now work from inside Google Now and from any of the Nexus 5’s homescreen.

Save Battery with Smarter Location settings

More and more applications want to know where you are and what you’re doing. All of this location pinpointing requires GPS, and that in turn warrants juice from your Nexus 5’s battery. Google knows this and has attempted something of a workaround inside Android 4.4 called Battery Saving GPS Mode.
Battery Saving GPS Mode essentially minimises the number of reference points used to derive your exact location and thus saves you unnecessary battery wastage. To enable this go to: Settings > Location > Mode, and enable Battery Saving.
For pinpoint accuracy, as and when you need it, go back into the Settings and select High Accuracy.

Turn off NFC

Not using NFC? Turn it off.

Check out Google’s Android KitKat animation

Hidden away inside Android 4.4’s menu settings is a little KitKat animation. It doesn’t do anything other than let you spin the KitKat logo but it is quite cool, especially for bragging rights –– no one will have KitKat for quite some time unless they have a Nexus.
To locate this little animation, head to Settings > About Phone > and then triple tap on Android Version. The KitKat animation boots up shortly thereafter. To get back to the Home screen just tap the Home button. 

Sony reveals Android 4.4. KitKat update roadmap

Sony has revealed its plans to introduce Android 4.4 KitKat to existing Xperia devices.
In a post on the company's SonyMobile blog, Sony said, "We've seen lots of questions on our Android upgrade roadmap and equally, we have lots to tell you, so here's a note on just that..."
Sony clarified that several of its existing Xperia handsets would be making the jump to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean shortly.
"We're pleased to tell you that well start rolling Android 4.3 for Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia SP, Xperia Z Ultra and Xperia Z1 from next month."
The Xperia T, Xperia TX and Xperia V will also be upgraded on the same schedule.
Somewhat frustratingly, Sony hasn't specified exactly when its devices will get KitKat 4.4, only revealing that the Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia Z Ultra and Xperia Z1 will be making the jump.
Instead of a precise date, or even a vague one, Sony has simply stated that users should "stay tuned to the social newsroom and @SonyMobileNews," where the company will update us with more specific details "as things progress."
Still, at least something is happening.

Android 4.4.1 update already in the works

Evidence has emerged suggesting Google is already hard at work on an Android 4.4.1 update patch for its latest mobile software.
On Monday 4 November a member of the XDA developer forums discovered some code for Android 4.4.1 intended to disable the translucent menu bars for the Nexus 10 tablet as apprently Google is having some trouble implementing this feature on the larger tablet device.
Today, November 7, another bit of info has emerged to add weight to the Android 4.4.1 idea as tech blog Myce reports that an "inattentive Google employee" has revealed the build under development. Myce spotted the KOT31B build in Google's Chromium issue tracker.
"The issue was first marked with the Google-Restrict-View label which makes it only readable to Google employees but the label was later removed," Myce reports, "The build is only a week old and could be the sign we’ll see a 4.4.1 version."
The "K" aligns with the version name for KitKat or Key Lime Pie (KitKat's earlier development name, Jelly Bean builds had a "J"), while the T31 indicates the build is from October 31.

Android 4.4’s Advanced Photo Editor detailed

Android 4.4 features an advanced photo-editing suite that Google has optimised for use on both smartphones and tablets. Google software engineer Nicolas Roard took to YouTube to detail the application aboard a Nexus 7 slate.
With KitKat’s Photo Editor you can apply predefined looks, alter the geometry, saturation and applied filters. But perhaps best of all – Photo Editor is non-destructive. Which means no matter what you do to an image you can always revert back to the original one.
“The editor is pretty powerful, works on tablet and phones, handles full-size image processing, zooming, re-edit, image exports, user presets, etc. This new version also adds more powerful specialized tools (graduated filters, per-channel saturation controls, local adjustments, etc.),” wroteRoard in a Google+ post
You can also export an image from Photo Editor in different sizes and file formats. Photo Editor is now shipping inside ASOP, according to Google.
Check out the demonstration below: 

What else is new inside Android 4.4 KitKat?

Android 4.4 is officially here alongside and inside the Google Nexus 5. Ahead of launch there was plenty of speculation about both the handset and Google’s confectionary-baiting software update. So what’s new inside the latest build of Android 4.4? Quite a bit as it goes… Google has reworked the UX, added in better support for low-end hardware, and tweaked many of Android’s core elements. 
Here are some of Android 4.4's best bits...

Better Visuals

Applications and games can now use the entirety of the display with 4.4, meaning no more notifications bar and no more battery icon. Just full screen applications and games. Android’s UI now stays hidden whenever you’re interacting with content. 

“To make sure that users always have easy, consistent access to system UI from full-screen immersive mode, Android 4.4 supports a new gesture — in immersive mode, an edge swipe from the top or bottom of the screen now reveals the system UI,” said Google.

Sensors

Like Apple’s M7 coprocessor, Android KitKat now wants to know more about what you do and where you are. To enable this Google has enabled hardware sensor batching inside 4.4, a feature that makes sensors far less power hungry. 
“Android works with the device hardware to collect and deliver sensor events efficiently in batches, rather than individually as they are detected. This lets the device's application processor remain in a low-power idle state until batches are delivered. You can request batched events from any sensor using a standard event listener, and you can control the interval at which you receive batches.” 

Performance

This is the big one –– Android 4.4 will run on handsets with just 512MB of RAM. That’s right, people: KitKat will theoretically run on the HTC Hero, a handset that came out almost three years ago! 
KitKat streamlines every major component to reduce memory use and introduces new APIs and tools to help developers create more memory-efficient applications.
“OEMs building the next generation of Android devices can take advantage of targeted recommendations and options to run Android 4.4 efficiently, even on low-memory devices. Dalvik JIT code cache tuning, kernel samepage merging (KSM), swap to zRAM, and other optimizations help manage memory.”

Cloud printing

It’s not a deal breaker by any means but you can now print using Google Cloud Print via your Android 4.4-powered handset and/or tablet. Google has opened up the APIs to developers, so expect support inside most of the big name apps inside Google Play very soon. 
“Android 4.4 introduces native platform support for printing, along with APIs for managing printing and adding new types of printer support. The platform provides a print manager that mediates between apps requesting printing and installed print services that handle print requests.”
“The print manager provides shared services and a system UI for printing, giving users consistent control over printing from any app. The print manager also ensures the security of content as it's passed across processes, from an app to a print service.”

Faster Multitasking

Android 4.4 features a raft of back-end tweaks aimed at improving the overall performance and speed with which you handset computes tasks. Google has further optimised memory inside Android 4.4 –– it can now run on just 512MB of RAM –– and touchscreen response is better, too. 
The end result is a smoother UX, faster loading applications and a significant bump in multitasking performance. Android was pretty decent at running multiple apps before –– say, Spotify and Chrome and email. With KitKat it'll be even better. 

Smart Caller ID

Inside Android you can sync you contacts list with a myriad of social networks and account types, including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Google Mail, Google+. This sync pulls your contacts' details across and links their profile picture to their name in your contacts app, thus giving you a tidy, useful, contacts list complete with profile pictures.
KitKat takes things further. When you receive a call from an unknown number –– like a business or a pizza delivery guy, for instance –– KitKat will scan Google Maps for an appropriate image and, if it can find one, use it for the caller ID. The idea is to give you a better idea of who is calling you.

The “OK Google” command

The Moto X could do it and now so can Android KitKat. Navigate to Settings, turn the feature on and say “Okay Google” and watch Google Now magically appear before your eyes on your handset's display –– no touching required. 
You can ask it about the weather, for directions, theatre times, and sports scores. Or, you can get it to play a certain song, text a friend, or make a phone call.

Hangouts is the new SMS

In a bid to bolster its position against the likes of WhatsApp, Viber, and BBM –– now available on Android and iOS –– Google has re-purposed its Hangouts application to feature SMS and MMS messages, as well as IM threads from your Google contacts.
You can even share your location with the new Hangouts and send animated GIFs.  

Screen recording

Screen-grabs are one thing but having the ability to capture real-time video of what’s happening on your droid’s display is another thing entirely. With Android KitKat this is now a reality, and all saved content is stored on your device as an MP4 file.  
“By default, the utility selects a resolution equal or close to the device's display resolution in the current orientation. When you are done recording, you can share the video directly from your device or pull the MP4 file to your host computer for post-production.”

Built in support for IR blasters

“Android 4.4 introduces platform support for built-in IR blasters, along with a new API and system service that let you create apps to take advantage them.”
That means all new Android handsets, providing they have latent IR functionality, can be used to control a myriad of devices including your HDTV and stereo. 
And because the API is open to developers there’s likely to be all kinds of IR Blaster features added to current and upcoming applications and content inside Google Play.
That’s it for now, but we’ll update this piece with more information once we’ve had a play with Android 4.4 properly. In the mean time why not check out all the Nexus 5 details –– it’s a god damn monster! 

Android 4.4 KitKat rolls out to Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition

No sooner has Android KitKat started landing on HTC One Google Play Edition (GPE) handsets and we're hearing news that the same is now true of the GPE Samsung Galaxy S4.
Google's official Android Google+ page announced the rollout and as with the HTC One it should be getting pushed over-the-air.
Although you can expect some UI style changes, as well as added support for stuff like printing, you won't be getting the full Android 4.4 functionality demonstrated on the Nexus 5. The homescreen integrated Google Now experience is still a Nexus 5 exclusive.

Android 4.4 KitKat rolls out to HTC One Google Play Edition

The Android 4.4 KitKat update has been confirmed for the HTC One Google Play Edition for some time, but now it's actually started landing on user handsets.
According to AndroidCentral the 320MB update is available over-the-air to download for some users already, although as these things are usually staggered some users may not yet have the notification. It's also worth doing the old "check for updates" method in case you haven't been notified for some reason but do have access to the download.
Failing all of the above, there is a download link for the update which you can sideload onto your handset, found here:
"As is the case with other non-Nexus 5 devices, the update includes the older stock Android launcher as opposed to the new one with Google Now integrated," reports the site.
It also notes that you can update the device using that file directly on the phone itself.
"Note: On the Google Play edition HTC One you can download the update directly to local storage, then use the "update from phone storage" in the stock recovery to flash your update."

Sony Xperia Z1 found running 4.4.2

A version of the Sony Xperia Z1 has been found running Android 4.4.2 sparking rumours that an update is inbound.
The device is currently running Android 4.2.2 but it’s rumoured to be skipping Android 4.3 and heading directly to the KitKat OS.
An update was spotted on a red device, however, the Xperia Z1 only currently comes in white, black and purple, but don’t expect a red version anytime soon.
The red version of Sony’s flagship phone was created for illustrative purposes by a Vietnamese website.
The more interesting thing is the device is running 4.4.2, newer than any other device on the market.
We'd normally attach this with the photos themselves but the website which uploaded them has asked us not to use the photos.

Sony bringing Android 4.4 KitKat to Xperia SP?

The Xperia SP seems to be the next device in Sony’s roster to get the Android 4.4 KitKat update.
Xperia Blog has been investigating Sony’s support pages which has suggested the Xperia SP is recieiving the update soon and other models are “Under Investigation.”
Models under investigation include the Xperia ZR, Xperia T, Xperia TX and Xperia V.
Of course none of this is confirmation the devices will ever be updated but it seems that Sony is at least looking into whether it’s possible to make the port.

Motorola reveals 10 handsets getting KitKat 4.4

Motorola's ownership by Google appears to be yeilding fruit afterall as the phone-maker has revealed it will be bringing Android KitKat 4.4 to 10 of its existing handsets.
As well as the already revealed Moto X update, which is currently spreading across US carriers. Many of the other devices are also US-only, so this isn't thrilling news for our non-American readers.
Motorla's Electrify M for US Cellular is being boosted, along with the Atrix HD on AT&T but NOT the Atrix HD Developer's Edition, for some reason.
On Verizon, the DROID Ultra, DROID Maxx, DROID Mini, DROID RAZR HD, DROID RAZR Maxx HD and DROID RAZR M will all be getting the choclatey update.
The RAZR HD and RAZR M Developer Editions will also be getting a jump to the new build, but apparently this could be a bit later on - although it's difficult to put that into context considering we don't have dates for any of this stuff.
Right, that's enough capslock. Oh, Motorola, you and your crazy naming conventions.

HTC clarifies HTC One Android 4.4 KitKat schedule for North America

HTC has taken to Twitter to clarify the situation in regard to the Android 4.4 KitKat update for the HTC One in the North American region.
HTC says it will deliver Android 4.4 KitKat and Sense 5.5 to all North American HTC One models by the end of January 2014.
While further specifics have not been detailed, hopefully this also gives us some idea of a schedule for the rest of the HTC One-using world. We can't imagine there'd be a massive gap between the US rollout and over here across the pond.

Android 4.4 KitKat UI features emulated in Nova Launcher 2.3 and Apex Launcher 2.2

Many Android users may understandably be a little bit grumpy about the fact that only a handful of devices have recieved the 4.4 KitKat update so far. Just as annoying, many manufacturers are keeping quiet about when we might see updates arriving on existing handsets.
While we can't bring you news of a way to circumvent this frustrating sitation entirely, we can tell you there are a couple of ways you can get a little bit of your KitKat fix (no, not buying the choccy bar).
Two Android launchers have been updated and now include a complete overhaul to bring many of KitKat's UI design features to whatever Android handset you're currently rocking.
The Beta 1 build of Nova Launcher 2.3 was pushed out earlier in November (yeah, we're a little late to the party on this one).
The main changes include the new icons, white colouration for indicators and buttons, and transparent menu bars.
The transparent components aren't fully functional yet, as you can see from the screenshots as soon as you go into a menu it's all black and grey again, but still, it makes the homescreen look a whole lot better.
It's also worth pointing out that the transparent bits don't work with every phone just yet, but once it's out of beta hopefully it'll be much more fully fledged.
You can opt into the beta on Google Play or you can download the APK file for side-loading via the Nova Launcher site.
Apex 2.2 is also in a beta stage and accessible via the project Google page, though it's understood a Google Play beta program is on the way.
Again, you're mainly getting flashy visual things and transparency effects, though it's worth noting the design extends at least as far as a semi-transparent overlay for the app drawer here.
Not a complete fix, but hopefully this might tide you over until KitKat rolls out more widely.

Android 4.4 update now rolling out to Moto X

Motorola has announced that the Android 4.4 KitKat update is now available for the Moto X. Verizon has now initiated the rollout, which will take place in phases, so if you don't get the update straight away just sit tight –– it's coming.
Motorola’s Senior Vice President Software Engineering Steve Horowitz revealed the news in a blog post on Tuesday. Horowitz said: "Our software team has been hard at work bringing the latest version of Android to our Moto X users more quickly than ever. When it came to KitKat, we couldn’t wait to deliver."
Motorola also revealed some of the changes with KitKat 4.4 including an improved phone dialer which allows you to search for contacts directly from the dial-pad. There are a bunch of new gallery effects such as Posterize, Highlights and Edges as well as a draw feature to annotate photos. There’s a new hangouts app which puts all of your conversations from texts, video calls and other chats into one place.
Another update is Color Emoji, a group of characters to put in your text messages. There’s also a drag to focus and expose feature on the camera app which lets you control focus and exposure with your finger.

Android 4.4 update now rolling out to Nexus 4

It’s been a long time coming – weeks, in fact – but Google’s Android 4.4 update is now seeding to select Nexus 4 handsets around the globe. The update is 238MB in size and is said to contain a raft of bug fixes for Google’s former flagship. If you haven’t received an OTA alert just yet, don’t panic, as it will likely be with you inside the next 24 hours.
The update brings the new Google Hangouts instant chat interface, automatic caller ID for nearby businesses, as well as the new ART runtime – a feature that reduces app start times and improves battery performance. Google reportedly encountered a lot of bugs in the original KRT16S build of Android 4.4. The new build – KRT16O – is now seeding to Nexus 4 handsets and is believed to have addressed these problems.
Expect an OTA update in the next 24 hours or so… 

Android 4.4 update schedule: HTC, Samsung, Sony and Motorola

Android 4.4 is here and in the hands of a few users the globe over. Google is slowly adding support for existing Nexus handsets and tablets. But for everybody else inside the Android kingdom – those using HTC, Sony, Samsung or LG devices – the wait for KitKat is likely to be much longer than a matter of weeks. 
So when will your Android handset get Android 4.4 KitKat? Good question. Here’s everything we know so far about HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony and Motorola’s plans for updating its existing hardware with Android 4.4.

HTC

HTC will begin rolling out Android 4.4 to its HTC One handset in January, a company exec has now confirmed. The Taiwanese manufacturer will work with UK networks to bring the update to as many One handsets as possible. The Google Edition HTC One will be receiving the update earlier, however, although HTC has yet to divulge any specific details as yet. 
There’s no word on the update for the HTC One Max and HTC One Mini or the company’s existing fleet of Android handsets like the HTC One X, One XL and One S.

Sony

Keen to put its reputation for being rubbish at Android updates well behind it, Sony recently confirmed the following: “We’re also happy to tell you about the first raft of Xperia products that we’ll make Android 4.4 Kit Kat available for – they are: Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia Z Ultra and Xperia Z1.”
Sony didn’t give any specifics regarding timing and availability, but advices users to keep an eye on @SonyMobileNews for update information and schedules. In the meantime Sony will be updating an absolute boatload of its handsets – Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia SP, Xperia Z Ultra and Xperia Z1 – to Android 4.3 in the coming month.

Samsung

As usual, Samsung is attempting to be like Apple and is adopting a very secretive approach to its plans for Android 4.4. However, Google has already confirmed that the Galaxy S4 with 4.4 should be coming soon. "Samsung UK will announce rollout plans for Android 4.4 in due course," a spokesperson told ZDNet.
Expect the Note 3, Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy Mega and perhaps even the Note 2 to get in on the KitKat action.

Motorola

Moto confirmed it would be updating its Moto G handset to Android 4.4 in January. In the US where most of its business now takes place, reports claim the Moto X, Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini will all be getting Android 4.4 but neglected to give a specific date. 
Basically, if you’re after Android 4.4 on your phone the general consensus for the big four seems to be nothing is happening until at least January. We’ll update this piece as and when we know more. Until then: January is the time to keep in mind. 
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