10 Nov Google Launches New Nexus And Android KitKat 4.4
Following its highly popular Nexus 4 device, which sold out in Australia in mere minutes at launch last year, Google have unveiled their next branded mobile handset.
The Nexus 5 aims to continue where the Nexus 4 left off, bringing with it improvements to the screen, processing power and camera. It is also the very first device to run the latest version of the Android operating system, Android KitKat 4.4, which brings a host of improvements to the software.
While the Nexus 5 offers no major redesign when compared to the Nexus 4, you’ll see the real improvements in the display quality and in the camera.
The Nexus 5 sports a 5inch screen that improves upon its predecessor’s 1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi) with 1920 X 1080 (445 ppi), providing sharper, crisper colours and text. The screen itself has been upgraded with Corning’s latest iteration of their Gorilla Glass technology, Gorilla Glass 3, which offers improved damage and scratch resistance. While the screen is bigger than the Nexus 4, Google have managed to actually decrease the weight from 136grams to 130grams partly due to Gorilla Glass 3’s thinner display.
While the Nexus 5 retains the 8 megapixel camera of the Nexus 4, it has added optical image stablisation technology in addition to HDR+ technology to provide users with a significantly improve experience when capturing shots. HDR+ silently and automatically snaps a handful of photos when you press the phone’s shutter and then combines them all together to give you a single enhanced image straight away. This technology is particularly useful in low-light or high-contrast environments, as it increases exposure time without blurring the image caused by shaky hands. The camera software also offers a few other nifty little features, such as being able to capture a 306 degree view of your surroundings, as well as an Auto Backup feature that will automatically save and enhance every photo once it’s taken.
Wireless charging makes an appearance in the Nexus 5, allowing users to charge the device using a Qi-compatible charger. Pretty useful when working at your desk for long periods of time!
In addition to this, the Nexus 5 also supports Near Field Communications (NFC), allowing for wireless payments and transfer of files.
Android KitKat 4.4
Along with a brand new Nexus device, Google also announced an update to its Android operating system, codenamed KitKat 4.4.
Improvements To Google Now
KitKat 4.4. brings Google Now front and centre, with Google Now (when enabled) actually available as a primary home screen. Simply swipe the home screen to the right and Google Now will appear.
In addition to this, KitKat allows unlimited home screen panels, which gives users more flexibility in how they can set up and personalise their device.
Drawing upon the “Always Listening” feature on Motorola’s Moto X device, users simply have to say “Ok Google” to activate the voice control feature of the device. However, where it differs from the Moto X, is that the device has to be awake and not in an app (i.e. on the home screen) for this to work. The Moto X allows voice control to be used regardless of whether the device is asleep or an application is open.
When running a search, Google Now will not only pull results from the web, but also from installed applications. So, instead of having to open an app in addition to conducting a search, you are given the option of opening an app that matches the search terms, with the search terms already entered to show relevant content within the app.
New cards have also been added to Google Now. These new cards include one that will display updates from your favourite websites and blogs, and another that will try to understand your recent searches and group related queries together such as “Nexus 5” and “Android KitKat”.
The addition of these new cards indicates that Google Now will only become smarter and more personalised in later releases.
Caller ID Gets An Upgrade
While calling people is no longer the primary use of a phone these days, KitKat aims to “make calling easier than ever, by helping you search across your contacts, nearby places, or even Google Apps accounts (i.e. your company’s directory), directly from within the (dialer) app.”
So, instead of searching for a business using the Google Search tool, you can start typing in the business name in the Dialer App, and a list of related results will appear. Simply tap the correct result and your device will dial the number.
Additionally, when you receive a call from an unknown number, KitKat will try and associated that number with a business and scan Google Maps for an appropriate image, using it for the caller ID. This gives users a better idea of who is calling them before they answer the call.
Looking to improve the user’s experience when using applications, Google has introduced a feature called “Immersive Mode.” Immersive Mode hides the notification bar and the on screen buttons, which allows the application, whether it is a game or you are reading an eBook, to take centre stage. This provides users with a full-screen experience when interacting with content and a way to keep notifications and distractions out as long as they wish.
To view the Android UI again, while in Immersive Mode, users can perform an edge swipe from the top or bottom of the screen, which will then reveal the system UI.
Improved Quickoffice Integration
Quickoffice, a mobile application that allows users to create and edit Microsoft Office documents such as Word, Excel or Powerpoint documents offline will be more tightly integrated into the Android OS with KitKat 4.4.
Google purchased Quickoffice a few years ago and since then has been working on integrating this software more closely with its services. Quickoffice will come preinstalled on the Nexus 5, and will allow you to not only create and edit Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, but also access files in Google Drive and on your device, open and view PDF files and attach files to emails.
For those of you who need access to documents on the go wherever they are, this is a great addition to improve productivity.
Google Hangouts Replaces SMS
In much the same fashion as what Apple did with iMessage, Google has modified its Hangouts application (video calling) to feature SMS and MMS message, in addition to IM threads from Google Contacts.
Using Hangouts, you can search for contacts by e-mail address or Google account name and send them IMs. This has replaced the dedicated SMS app (on the Nexus 5 at least), which means that in addition to video calls; you’ll be able to send and receive text messages, photos and IMs using the Hangouts app.
In addition to the heavily upgraded camera software on the Nexus 5, KitKat further enhances an Android user’s photography prowess with its Photo Editor application.
The Photo Editor allows you to apply predefined looks as well as alter the geometry, saturation and applied filters.
Thankfully, if you decide the modifications just aren’t adding anything to the photo you can rest easy knowing the original is safe and sound. You can revert back to the original photo at any time, ensuring you keep your memories and works of photographic art safe from bad editing.
The editor allows you to process full-size images, zoom, re-edit, export images (in different sizes and file formats) and set user presets among other features.
KitKat For Everyone!
Google has optimised every major component of KitKat to improve the overall performance and speed of handsets with this version of Android installed.
Memory has been optimised by Google, which will allow KitKat to run on just 512MB of RAM, meaning lower end devices and potentially older Android devices will be able to upgrade to the latest version of Android. In addition to this, Google have introduced new APIs and tools to help developers create more memory-efficient applications.
This means that applications will load faster, navigating through the UI will be smoother and multitasking performance will improve.
The Nexus 5 will come shipped with Android KitKat4.4, however, whether other Nexus devices will receive the update is uncertain at present. Google have confirmed that the latest version of Android, will be supported on the Nexus 4, 7 and 10 as well as on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One Google Play edition. The rollout is expected to occure in the coming weeks.
Nexus 5 Availability
The Nexus 5 will be available in either white or black, in 16GB or 32GB variants.
At present, it is only available through the Google Play Store, however, as of the 3rd November, Australian stock of the device has already been depleted. There is currently no news on when stock will be replenished for Australian consumers.
In regards to whether it will be stocked by Australian telcos, while previously the Nexus devices were only available via the Google Play store, the inclusion of 4G LTE in the Nexus 5 could make the device more appealing for Australian carriers to add to their range of devices.
Indeed, it seems as though Telstra are considering stocking the Nexus 5, with the official word from Telstra being:
Telstra always endeavours to bring the latest technology to our customers and is currently investigating including the Nexus 5 with Android 4.4, KitKat operating system in its range. Customers who would like to be kept informed can register their interest at www.telstra.com.au/nexus. (Source: SMH)
To keep up to date with availability of the Nexus 5 device, stay tuned!