It's almost that time of year. Time for a new treat from Mountain View. Last year, we thought we'd be getting Key Lime Pie, instead Google gave us another serving of Jelly Beans Android 4.2. Then came Google I/O in May of this year where we thought we'd get Key Lime Pie Android 5.0, instead we got nothing until July when we got a third serving of Jelly Beans Android 4.3. We know that this fall, Google is going to serving up some tasty KitKats for us. Since they made it official earlier this month. Android 4.4 will be named KitKat. However, we have no idea what is going to be in KitKat. Maybe a new lockscreen? Perhaps new notifications? Or maybe just a new lighter, cards UI theme for the entire system? That's what we are here to talk about today. What do we want to see in KitKat!
Features We Want
Fix the Fragmentation
This seems to be a feature we want in every release of Android. But it's something that Google is clearly working on, since we see many new features in the Google Play Services app, which can be pushed out without a new version of Android. I'd like to see wider hardware support. Aside, from the many of us that read and write for Android Headlines, a lot of people are still signing 2-year (and in Canada 3-year) contracts. Which means, some people are just now getting off of the HTC Thunderbolt, HTC Rezound or even the Samsung Galaxy S2. I'd like to see devices from as far back as 2-3 years old be supported in KitKat. It'll definitely make a lot of people happy.
Google is all about the cloud, in case you were living under a rock. All your settings are stored in the cloud, your app list are stored in the cloud, your email in the cloud, Google Drive is all in the cloud too. But I'm thinking we'll see more cloud in Android 4.4. Possibly having the ability to backup your device to the cloud, similar to what iCloud does. So when you get a new device, you just login to Google and your device is just like your old one. Logged into all your apps, settings the same, etc. Sure third party apps already do this, but it'd be much better if it were baked into the OS.
Better Battery Life
This is another feature that is on our wishlist every year. Batteries are getting bigger, but our phones aren't lasting any longer. So what I want to see in Android 4.4 is what was rumored last year. That's Project Roadrunner. Stock Android could use quite a bit of battery optimization. And, you may remember that Google bought Motorola. The company that can pack a 3500mAh battery into a phone with a 4.3-inch display and make it last for days on LTE. Why can't we get that kind of optimization in stock Android?
Project Butter is basically a given. It's been on the feature list for Android 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3. So I fully expect to see it on there for Android 4.4. I'd like to see more smooth screen changes. As the folks at Droid-Life say, all Android devices have that "jank" factor. Also known as lag. Which has gotten better since the Gingerbread days, but it does still exist.
This is a custom ROM feature that I'd love to see in stock Android. I'd also like to be able to set my bedtime and wake up time, so during that time my phone is either in airplane mode or restricting notifications from certain apps. I can't tell you how many times I get hangout messages at 4am that wake me up. It would also save battery and data since I'm not using my phone while I'm asleep...I don't think.
We already have multiple device support. Back at Google I/O this year, Google told us that we now have notification sync. Well I don't think so. As you might expect, I have many devices that I use everyday. And when I get Google+ or Gmail notifications on one and I check them, I expect them to go away on my other devices. But does that happen? Nope.
Linux 3.10 'Long Term Release'
Just last month, we learned that Google is working on a new Linux "Long Term Release" that could be used in Android 4.4. At the time we believed that the next version of Android would be 5.0 and named Key Lime Pie. Of course since then we've learned it'll be Android 4.4 and named KitKat.
This would be a pretty big jump considering Android 4.0 and 4.1 were on Linux kernel 3.0 and Android 4.2 with 4.3 are Linux kernel 3.4. But Android 4.4 is jumping all the way to 3.10. This means that Google is working on 64-bit, like iOS 7 has for the iPhone 5S. Linux kernels 3.7 and 3.8 promise 64-bit support.
User Interface Changes
We've seen lots of changes with Google's interface over the past year. Going from the dark with holo-blue interface, to a cards UI which was introduced with Google Now last year. On Friday, we saw a screenshot that showed a gray icon set on a Nexus 10, with a new Keyboard update from Google in the Play Store. So we could see a cards UI overhaul over the entire OS, which I think would look great. Since I love the cards UI. Although we might see just a few small UI changes. Change is good.
Please, Google, please test out KitKat thoroughly before shipping it. You may remember last year, Google forgot to add December to the calendar. That was one of the funny bugs. But there were plenty of others. There are plenty of bugs still in Android 4.3. Android 4.2's biggest bug was Bluetooth. Which kept a lot of people, including me, from using Bluetooth speakers as often as they wanted. I know they can't squash every single bug, but please get as many as you can.
Android 4.4 Release Date
In the past, Google has announced the new version of Android in October, and made it available in November. Usually the OTA's for the Nexus family start pushing out a day or two before the new hardware goes on sale. Speaking of new hardware, we're expecting a Nexus 5 and new Nexus 10 to be announced next month along-side Android 4.4.
Right now, the rumor is that KitKat will be announced on October 14th. Now remember that's just a rumor so we'll treat it as such until we get confirmation. However it could be true. It lines up with everything Google has done in the past few years with the Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus announcements.
This one's a toughy, and I know a few (okay most of you) are going to be upset with this. But I honestly don't see Android 4.4 getting pushed out to anything that didn't come out in 2013 or 2012. Now we might see some flagships from 2011 get Android 4.4, but it won't be right away. Heck, we're just now getting updates for Android 4.2 pushing out, and it's been out for almost a year now.
Of course, the Nexus 4, 7, 10, Nexus 7 (2013) and possibly the Galaxy Nexus will get the update within a week or two of the announcement, possibly sooner. After that, it'll be the Google Play Edition devices, Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Then probably the Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, HTC One, LG G2 and the Moto X next to get the update from their manufacturers.
Final Thoughts/Odds and Ends
We know KitKat is going to be bigger release than Android 4.3 was. However not big enough to be 5.0. So we might not get all of this stuff in Android 4.4. But we might just get a lot of user features, which I'd love to have. As we get closer and closer to October, we'll start to hear more about Android 4.4 - KitKat, which you'll be able to find on our site as always.
KitKat is definitely going to be an interesting release, since they partnered with Nestle for the name. We'll have to keep our eye on this one.
What kind of features do you want to see in Android 4.4?