Google releases Android 4.4 KitKat with Nexus 5 smartphone - tablets up next (video)

by David Needle

October 31 2013

Google's new Nexus 5 smartphone is the first device to have Android 4.4 "KitKat" pre-installed.
Google's new Nexus 5 smartphone is the first device to have Android 4.4 "KitKat" pre-installed.

Google has released an update to Android, the so-called “KitKat” release, or more officially Android 4.4. 

For now Google has released the new software for its latest smartphone, the Nexus 5, also released today. Sundar Pichai, who heads both Google’s Android and Chrome groups, says Android 4.4 will be available “in the coming weeks” on Nexus 4, as well as Nexus 7 and 10-inch tablets as well ast he Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC ONe Google Play edition.

Google has a promotion going with the KitKat candy bar that accounts for the nickname.

“The first thing you’ll notice about KitKat is we’ve made the experience much more engaging: the book you're reading, the game you're playing, or the movie you're watching—now all of these take center stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see,” Pichai said in a blog post.

He also says KitKat overcomes the memory constraints that kept some lower end Android devices from running the latest version of Android.

“With KitKat, we've slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time,” he said.

“We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.”

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Calling Nexus 5

As for the Nexus 5, available starting today, its’ being made by hardware partner LG. Google says it’s the slimmest and fastest Nexus phone to date and features a 5” Full HD display.

Other features include an advanced new lens designed to capture more light for brighter night and sharper action shots. “And with optical image stabilization, you no longer have to worry about shaky hands and blurry pictures,” said Pichai. “A new HDR+ mode automatically snaps a rapid burst of photos and combines them to give you the best possible single shot.

The new smartphone also deeply integrates Google Now which is slated to have more features added next month. 


The Nexus 5 is priced at $349, a bit higher than other high end smartphones, but Google’s device is unlocked and does not require a contract.

Retailers set to carry the Nexus 5 include Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack.

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