If you were one of the first in line to buy a new Nexus 5 smartphone, you'll have noticed it comes with the latest version of the Android operating system (OS) – version 4.4 – installed. And now owners of existing devices will gradually get upgraded to the new version.
Continuing Google's tradition of naming its major operating system updates along a sweet theme, version 4.4 is known as KitKat and is now becoming available for gadgets including the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Google's own-branded Nexus 4.
But what's new once you get the shiny foil wrapping off KitKat? And should you be excited for the upgrade. Given the fuss some Apple users kicked up about iOS 7, it seems that radical change isn't everyone's cup of tea. But many people were left underwhelmed by the minor improvements Google offered in version 4.3 Jelly Bean, so what's to say this won't be more of the same?
Actually, a lot. KitKat is one of the biggest overhauls Google has ever made to its operating system and the aim is to make it more intuitive and easier for users to make their smartphone the centre of their life. Here's our brief guide to some of the top features and changes that you should be looking forward to if you're not already on the new OS.
The first thing you'll notice when you boot up Android 4.4 for the first time is just how pretty it is. It's brighter, cleaner and less cluttered than previous versions and the colour scheme has had an overhaul – getting rid of the blue hues in favour of a white design, with menu and status bars more transparent than before. In its review of the OS, the Verge said: "The overall effect is an OS that feels less, well, robotic."
There's also a new, more immersive mode that allows more apps to run in full screen – no more black bars at the top or bottom distracting you from whatever you're doing. So in the design stakes, it looks like Google's on to a winner.
If you've been using an Android device for a while, you'll have noticed Google's creeping attempts to infuse its Google Now services into the system. With version 4.4, this now takes centre stage and promises to change the way users find information with their phones. As the Verge says, "it's impossible to say where KitKat ends and Google begins".
This is combined with improved voice recognition, which Google claims is 25 per cent more accurate than in the past. So just tap the mic and speak your query and you should be able to find anything you're looking for.
What was that number?
Another key change is in the dialler. Tap the phone icon and instead of the familiar number pad, you'll be thrown straight into your contact list – which now has an integrated search function based on your location.
Stuff.tv noted this means, for example, that if you want a takeaway, you can simply type 'pizza' into the search bar and you'll get not only any numbers you've previously dialled, but also a list of other nearby takeaways, which you can call with just a tap.
Scratching the surface
These are just some of the updates users of Android can expect to take advantage of with the latest version. There's also the addition of SMS and MMS capabilities to Google Hangouts, improved multitasking performance and Google Cloud Print compatibility, to name just a few. In fact, such is the scale of changes, it's almost like having a new phone, just in time for Christmas.