Google has released the latest version of its Android operating system: Android 4.4, otherwise known as KitKat. As with any substantial OS upgrade, there are a number of new features. Some are purely aesthetic, some are background changes that you might not even notice, and some are so useful that youíll wonder why they didnít exist before now. If youíll be so kind as to scroll down a notch, you can read about five of the latter!

New Caller ID

I donít like answering the phone if I donít know whoís calling. I know that itís a little silly of me, but I normally donít like talking on the phone at all, so the thought of getting roped into a phone call with someone unpleasant is very unappealing. With the caller ID that has Googleís search engine directly integrated into it, if you get a call from a number thatís not in your contacts list, Google will do its best to search the number and tell you whoís calling. This is a very valuable feature for introverts like myself.

Ok Google


Hands-free voice control has become a major part of consumer electronics in the past few years, especially of the mobile variety, with the idea being that if youíre on the go, youíre likely to busy to physically mess with your device. KitKat offers an always-listening feature, and while that sounds ominous and Big Brother-y, it could turn out to be very useful. Instead of activating a separate application for voice commands, users can simply say ďOk GoogleĒ from the home screen, followed by their command. Itís the same feature used with Google Glass and Moto X, giving you direct access to Google Now.

Contact Prioritization

Hereís a fact: out of the first ten contacts listed in my contacts app, seven of them I havenít talked to in the last six months or so. A couple Iíve literally never contacted and are only there in case I someday need to. KitKat prioritizes your contacts list based on who you talk to the most. While itís such a simple change, itís a welcome one.

Granted, my most frequently contacted friends and family are usually sitting there in my call log or text message screen, but when I do have to go into my contacts, itís annoying having to scroll through hordes of people that are only in there for rare occasions.

Full Screen Mode

File this one under: why couldnít my phone already do this? Reading a book or watching a movie with the status bar present is a frustrating experience. Not all apps do this, of course. If you watch Netflix on full screen mode, you get the full screen. However, there are situations in which you canít take advantage of all the real estate your phone has to offer. KitKat remedies that by allowing you to swipe the edge of your phone to hide the status bar and bring it back.



Yeah, I know pedometers are old hat at this point, but thatís exactly why I love this feature. With the fitness trend in America, and everyoneís obsession with tracking their 10,000 steps, Googleís just made it that much easier by providing the ability as a free feature in their mobile OS. Youíll need to download an app to actually track your steps, as KitKat only provides the ability to detect them, but fitness apps are a dime a dozen so you shouldnít have a problem.

Drop in the Bucket

Thatís only a handful of features out of a pretty good offering, but I think these five highlight some of the most clever, basic tweaks Google has made to their already solid operating system. Now if only I could bring myself to retire my HTC Incredible from 2010.

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