According to TechCrunch, Google has officially rolled out its latest update to the mobile Android OS, known as 4.4 (or KitKat). Google announced several of the updates that are coming with KitKat, which will be available today on the Android Open Source Project and Nexus 5. The update will soon roll out to other versions of Nexus, the Samsung Galaxy S4, and the HTC One in the next few weeks.
OS Updates Across Older Devices
Google announced that KitKat developers focused on lowering its specs so Android users with older-model phones would be able to upgrade. Currently, many users in developing countries have phones that are only capable of running Gingerbread, and Google seeks to roll out the KitKat update over the next year to all Android devices, which will maintain consistency and give consumers the latest OS (along with all its new features).
Hangouts Now Compete with iMessage
KitKat is combining Google Hangouts and SMS (text) messaging into one app. This change makes the messaging aspect of Android more like Apple’s iOS’ iMessage. This feature should appeal to former Blackberry and iPhone users alike, as it provides more of a chatting, instant messaging experience.
Google announced several updated to the search feature on KitKat. The speech recognition error rate has been reduced 20% and accuracy has increased 25%. Speech recognition now uses more natural language and can be queued by saying “OK Google” when on the search screen.
Another addition to KitKat search is “deep app linking”, which shows app results in users’ search engine results on mobile. For instance, if someone searches for a specific restaurant, they are shown the option to open the restaurant’s OpenTable reservation screen in their downloaded OpenTable app.
Google Now can be accessed by swiping from the left side of the screen on KitKat and will be introducing new types of cards focused on helping users by providing them more relevant content. One new type of card will feature crowd-sourced query data to provide information to users. For example, if you are driving by the Barclays Center, Google may display a card with the Brooklyn Nets’ schedule and a link to purchase tickets, as many users near that landmark have searched for that information previously.
Google should continue to improve Google Now, especially since Apple reportedly acquired Cue for $40m earlier this month. The personal assistant app market with predicted information will continue to get more competitive as these two tech giants go head to head.
What do you think of KitKat?
What changes did you want to see in Android 4.4?
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