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Android 4.4 KitKat roundup: launcher, transparency, app drawer + more

Kris Carlon
6

Over the weekend there was a pretty significant leak of Android 4.4 screens and details from the Italian website Tutto Android. The screens were reportedly from a Nexus 5 and added a lot more visuals to the things we've been guessing and prophesizing about over the last few weeks. So without further ado, here are the screens and what they mean we should see in Android 4.4.

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Nexus 5 AND Android 4.4 pictures? Yes, please!  / © Tuttoandroid

First of all, the main thing to notice is that Android 4.4 has some serious makeover aspects, perhaps being the pretty box around the various performance and security updates of Android 4.3 and indicating the end of the line for Jelly Bean before Android 5.0 whatchamacallit comes up next. The current batch of pictures are of build number KRS92B (previous leaks were of KRS74H) but there will of course be more versions before the final release build is nailed down in the coming weeks.

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Transparent fade outs at top and bottom and the lock screen camera icon. / © Tutto Android

Lock screen and transparency

As you can see in the images, there's a lively new wallpaper on this Nexus 5 running Android 4.4, but if you can look beyond that, you'll see lots of fine details that reveal the operating system changes underneath. First of all, on the lock screen, you'll notice the status bar is transparent and features the same white/light gray icons we've seen in previous leaks. The screen fades out in the same way at the bottom, and you'll see a shortcut to the camera app in the bottom right. Apparently you can swipe to this icon or just swipe to the left anywhere as per Android 4.3 to access the camera direct from the lock screen. The transparent status bar and app shortcuts are only to be found on the lock screen and launcher, with color coded bars in apps (although this leak didn't show any running apps). Although there's no video, the source of the leak reports the boot screen animation will be the same as Google Play Edition devices.

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Transparency and new icons in the Google Experience launcher and the new-look app drawer, which keeps the transparent vibe going but, incidentally, loses the tabs at the top. / © Tutto Android

Google Experience launcher

There's reportedly a new launcher in Android 4.4 called Google Experience and some pretty concrete digging work has been done by Android Police and Myce.com that definitely seems to confirm this will be the stock launcher on Android 4.4. Along with many other Android 4.4 features, it may well be dropped on the Play Store as apps to further spread the KitKat experience to all. You can also see that the status bar remains transparent in the launcher and the top and bottom fade to black as with the lock screen images. The bar that separates the app shortcuts is gone and some of the icons are different too, with borderless and transparent effect changes.

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This vidcap shows an earlier build of Android 4.4 on the Nexus 5. / © smartphones.sfr.fr

App drawer and Nexus 5 leak video

The app drawer also gets a new background and the tabs at the top have vanished in these most recent build images. Icon size has reportedly been increased. A video of a Nexus 5 running Android 4.4, listed as Key Lime Pie in About Device, has also recently surfaced but you can see immediately that while the app shortcut bar is gone, the phone icon, app drawer icon and status bar are all the same as 4.3, so this is obviously a previous build. The date on the Nexus 5 in the video states October 9th however. Other changes, like the appearance of Google Drive and Google Keep as stock apps are all in line with what we've already heard about 4.4.

Link to Video

Google Now

The source reports that Google Now can be accessed with a swipe from the left to the right of the screen, as well as upwards from the bottom. You can also access Google with voice commands or with the archaic method of actually inputting text in the search bar. Thus far we don't know if Google Now will always be listening like the Moto X but it does makes sense.

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New location settings in Android 4.4 KitKat / © Tutto Android

Location changes and Payments

We saw some minor leaks last week about changes to the Location Access options in Android 4.4, namely that there would now be three options in the abbreviated Location setting: high accuracy, battery saving and device sensors. The differences are:

  • High accuracy: uses GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile networks to pin your location down (and kill your battery)
  • Battery saving: Just uses Wi-Fi and mobile networks
  • Device sensors: Just uses GPS. I'm not quite sure why on earth anyone (other than Google) would want to pinpoint a smartphone owner's location using GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile networks, but I guess the option is there if you need it. At the very least it will keep your location data flowing whether you're indoors out of GPS satellite pinpointing capability or away from a Wi-Fi network. Sad that there is no ''mobile network only'' option available (this doesn't appear in Android 4.3 either).

There's also a new Google Location History setting to let you see which apps have been requesting location data. A Tap & Pay page in the Settings Menu will allow you to set up NFC payment options with your Google Wallet account.

Android44Launcher
I'm looking forward to what Google Experience adds to my Google experience. / © Android Police

Other goodies

The Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 camera will indeed have Optical Image Stabilization qualities but at this point we can't confirm if it is hardware based or software based. But considering the Nexus 5 will ship with Android 4.4, it doesn't matter to those buying a Nexus 5. Everyone else will just have to wait, but there seems to be more and more evidence pointing to the fact that many of the Android 4.4 apps will be available via the Play Store for those who don't get Android 4.4 at all or must wait a long time for it from their OEMs.

Cloud printing is also ''confirmed'' by the leaker as well as SMS features in Google Hangouts. The leaked images show the Hangouts icon in place of the Messaging icon, which could mean hangouts will completely replace the default messaging app, or simply that it has been moved elsewhere on the Nexus 5 which is the source of the images. There's also other changes to the look of the Downloads interface we reported on previously.

What do you think of Android 4.4 KitKat? Is it everything you were hoping for? What else would you like to see?

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Comments

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  • surajhodi 6 months ago Link

    what the great looking android and nexus coming in the big deal market with it's own fashion

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  • rick bobadilla 5 months ago Link

    nice

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  • CJ Brown 5 months ago Link

    Nice, but speculative (in my opinion) until Google makes their official announcements (it appears Apple is attempting to steal the media's attention with their announcements in October 2013 - could Google be waiting to unleash their media hype a day - or 2 - after Apple? I hope so! Nothing says "aloha" like taking consumers away from your competitor!)

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    Kris Carlon 5 months ago Link

    Haha, true that! Google did a pretty good job of overshadowing the IFA launches with the KitKat launch video and the Nexus 5's first appearance. Although Artem at Android police is saying that the October 24th event won't even be the Play Store v4.4 launch, let alone KitKat or the Nexus 5. Either way we don't have long to find out now.

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  • Stacho van Guldener 2 months ago Link

    When will it be available for the Samsung s4 mini?

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    • User picture
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      Kris Carlon 2 months ago Link

      Hi @Stacho, there was a leaked document a while back that claimed March-April for the S4 mini, so you never know...

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