Android 4.4 KitKat for Nexus 4: Review

Screenshot_2013-11-15-18-12-46After weeks of speculation and endless waiting, Tech giant Google has finally released the much awaited Android 4.4 KitKat for its previous Nexus device, i.e. Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 (2012 and 2013 version). Yes, all they have done is release the factory image and the OTA update will take some more time to roll out and will definitely depend on which area you live in. If you are using a device with unlocked bootloader, then you can try the latest version on Android on your Nexus device right away. For all those using locked device, you have to wait for the OTA.  The factory image can be downloaded from the Google’s developer website here.

I am already successfully running KitKat on my Nexus 4 device. I had previously reviewed the Nexus 5 port ROM and the Paranoid Android 4.4 ASOP ROM for Nexus 4. My experience with these ROMs was largely disappointing. So with huge expectations I went ahead and tried the official KitKat for Nexus 4. For all those who do not how to install a factory image, please check the following link of XDA Developers Forum.

If you have the latest Google search running on your device, you will notice how the hotword “Ok Google” now opens the voice command option. However on a Nexus 5 you can say the hotword on the home screen and open Google Now. This is because of the Google Experience Launcher (GEL), which makes Google Now an active service, which means Google Now is always running and waiting for your command. The Nexus 4 KitKat update does not include this amazing feature, which was disappointing for me.

Make no mistake, the Nexus 4 KitKat and for that matter Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 KitKat update does not offer the GEL. So you will see the same stock launcher. Also the status bar and the buttons are not transparent as we see in Nexus 5. The halo blue theme of the stock ROM is however replaced with the sober white theme as seen in Nexus 5. Essentially almost all the features of the KitKat we saw in Nexus 5 has been retained. One of the most interesting addition, is the Home option in the Devices settings in the Settings Menu. It gives me the feeling that Google does have plans to roll out GEL for other devices. Google has admitted that GEL is still an experiment that they have tried out in Nexus 5. So we may get to see an official release of GEL later on.

But for people who are not happy enough with the Stock launcher (like me), they can always get the GEL for their device. Android Police has done a fantastic job of extracting the launcher from Nexus 5 and released it as an apk file for all the device. You can download the apk file from their mirror site here. You can also download it from this link here. I am using the launcher and it is quite stable with no glitch or issues. I wonder why Google is not releasing the launcher yet. For those who are using Nexus 10, you should know that KitKat and GEL won’t make the status bar and the button bar transparent. Google has officially blocked such a thing from happening in Nexus 10 device, citing performance issues.

This is all for now. Android 4.4 KitKat is working seamlessly on my device and I am yet to see any glitch or problem with it. I will have to wait and see on the long run as to how the new Android performs. Hopefully, more stable custom ROMs of KitKat would be released soon, and I would definitely write about them in my coming posts.

Bharath

About Bharath Bhat

Master in Genetics, Researcher in Molecular Biology, Android enthusiast.

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