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 youll wonder why they didnt exist before now. If youll be so kind as to scroll down a notch, you can read about five of the latter!

New Caller ID

I dont like answering the phone if I dont know whos calling. I know that its a little silly of me, but I normally dont 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 Googles search engine directly integrated into it, if you get a call from a number thats not in your contacts list, Google will do its best to search the number and tell you whos 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 youre on the go, youre 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 Ok Google from the home screen, followed by their command. Its the same feature used with Google Glass and Moto X, giving you direct access to Google Now.

Contact Prioritization

Heres a fact: out of the first ten contacts listed in my contacts app, seven of them I havent talked to in the last six months or so. A couple Ive 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 its such a simple change, its 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, its annoying having to scroll through hordes of people that are only in there for rare occasions.

Full Screen Mode

File this one under: why couldnt 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 cant 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 thats exactly why I love this feature. With the fitness trend in America, and everyones obsession with tracking their 10,000 steps, Googles just made it that much easier by providing the ability as a free feature in their mobile OS. Youll 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 shouldnt have a problem.

Drop in the Bucket

Thats 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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