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Android 4.4 KitKat Update Giveth and Taketh Different Features Depending on Your Device

November 23, 2013 - Written By Cory McNutt

There had been reports of Android 4.4 KitKat downloads for other devices not showing all of the Nexus 5 features that we reported on when it first arrived earlier this month. A concerned citizen over at our friends at Droid-Life was very concerned regarding his Nexus 7 (2012) update being stripped of some of the goodies he was expecting from his KitKat upgrade. As the Moto X users start investigating their 4.4 KitKat upgrade, they too will notice features not there, that they were expecting.

We must remember earlier, Google stated that some features, such as the Google Experience Launcher, was a Nexus 5 device exclusive, but it appears that there may be more “Nexus 5 only” features – although a few APKs can take of some omissions! Maybe this is Google’s way of insuring that the Nexus 5 is an exclusive device, giving potential buyers even more reason to purchase one…after all Samsung with TouchWiz, HTC with Sense, and LG with Optimus UI, try and differentiate each other by their specific User Interface (UI).

KitKat Google Luncher

When Google announced KitKat, they stated that the Google Experience Launcher on the Nexus 5 would be device exclusive, so when you install Android 4.4 KitKat on a Nexus 7, Nexus 4, or a Moto X, you should expect to see, basically, the same launcher that is on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. No swiping left for Google Now, no “Ok Google” voice commands from the homescreen, no new UI for editing homescreen, wallpaper chooser, separate widgets section, and so on.

Remember I said earlier that a few APKs could help “fix” your 4.4 KitKat upgrade to act like the Nexus 5 – well, now that Google updated the search app to 3.1.8, you can download the Launcher APK HERE and side-load it. If you are running Android 4.1 or higher, this will allow you to utilize the Google Experience Launcher the Nexus 5 people are enjoying.

KitKat Notification bar

One small, but a favorite feature on Android 4.4 KitKat, was the introduction of the translucent notifications bar – it was so much nicer than seeing a “black bar” across the top of the device. It does appear that the Moto X upgrade does have the translucent bars enabled, but it would be a great feature on the Nexus tablets and Nexus 4 as well. It makes you wonder how Google makes their decisions on what to pass on and what to hold back, and why. We also reported that the Samsung-made Nexus 10 will not have the translucent bars, although possibly for other reasons that you can read about here.

PicMonkey Collage

Another nice and practical feature found on the Nexus 5 is the use of Google’s Smart Dialer when making or receiving calls.  When making a call you can perform a Google Search for a local business and then make the call via the dialer and save the number if you want as a contact for future calls.  When you get an incoming call, it will perform a search, and alert you the caller’s name (and even a picture if there is one) if the number is found through the search function.  This is not found on the Moto X’s 4.4 KitKat upgrade, although may be included in a future update.

KitKat Tap and Pay

One feature that most Android 4.4 KitKat users will experience is the new Tap & Pay services of Google Wallet – just make sure you are running the latest version of Wallet, and you can get that HERE, as well as making sure you have NFC enabled on your device. With 4.4 KitKat you do not need a secure NFC chip – the newest Android version has a work-around so that any NFC compatible device should work, opening up Google Wallet to the masses. If you still do not see that Tap & Play feature after you download the latest Google Wallet – Droid-Life noticed this on the Nexus 7 (2012) and Moto X, just download the APK HERE and it should work.

We hope this helps clear up some of the “missing pieces” from Android 4.4 KitKat when you upgrade your device. These APKs are essentially the ones from the Nexus 5 device, but should work fine for you – but please remember that when downloading an APK, there is always a risk factor and we do not take responsibility – that is your decision. To find out more about Android 4.4 KitKat, CLICK HERE.

Let us know in the comments or on Google+ if you have any comments or observations about Android 4.4 KitKat.