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Android 4.4 KitKat – Features we want

Andrew Williams


Android kitkat
Android kitkat

Google has just announced that the next version of Android won’t be Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie but Android 4.4 KitKat. And, yes, this is an official tie-in with the Nestle chocolate bar of the same name.

But what will the next version of Android offer? We don’t know yet, but here’s what we’d like to see. Let us know your own suggestions in the comments.

KitKatMultiple profiles for phones

With Android 4.3 Jelly bean, Google introduced multiple user profiles to Android. However, the feature’s only available on tablets, not phones.

It would come in just about as useful in an Android phone, though. You don’t want to hand over your phone to your child only to find they’ve deleted all your apps and spent £50 on the Google Play store. Multiple user profiles aren’t just about protecting your data, either – they can protect the user too. By, for example, restricting the apps and web pages they have access to.

Improvements to Android Device Manager

In August 2013, Google revealed its own version of Find My iPhone, called Android Device Manager. This is designed to help you retrieve your Android device, should it get nicked.

It was a long time overdue, but at present it’s not quite as good as Apple’s long-standing iPhone alternative. You can make your Android fire off its ringer, and you can even wipe its contents. However, you can’t send a message to the device.

KitKat 2It’s also a simple app download, meaning whoever nicks your phone can easily get rid of it. For it to be truly effective, it needs to be built into the Android system.

Downloadable maps in Google Maps

One of the few bragging points the Nokia Lumia phones have over Android mobiles is their ability to download whole countries’ worth of maps using the Nokia-made HERE Maps suite. When you’re abroad, this is an absolute godsend as it means you don’t have to search for 3G/Wi-Fi signal and you don’t have to worry about roaming charges when trying to find out where the bloomin' heck you are.

Google Maps doesn’t currently let you download maps for offline use, and it’s one of the few real sore points about Google’s otherwise pretty great apps roster. It’s a real shame when in other respects Google Maps is still the best free mapping solution out there.

Native Google TV controller app

Top-end phones are starting to offer an IR transmitter as a more-or-less ‘standard’ feature this year. This transmitter lets a phone mimic the signals sent by TV remote controls, and those of just about every home entertainment gadget.

KitKat 1It’s a great idea. The problem? None of the apps that let you do this are good enough, yet. For a universal remote to be useful, it needs to be easy to setup and easy to use. The apps made by HTC and Samsung for the Galaxy S4 and HTC One are neither of these things.

If Google waded in and produced its own ‘home automation’ app, people might actually start using this feature. Most people we’ve talked to with IR-capable phones don’t even know they can do this stuff.

iMessage/Whatsapp equivalent built into messenger

We’ll be straight with you – Apple’s iMessage is a bit rubbish. It gets confused, often leads to you missing out on messages and is a nightmare if you happen to go abroad. However, it does let you send pictures quickly and easily for free, which is missing from Android.

Of course, you can get this functionality with a third-party app like Whatsapp, but wouldn’t it be nice to have it all integrated into Android? The obvious stumbling block is that this service would likely only be compatible with devices running Android 4.4 KitKat or newer, meaning it wouldn’t be a great deal of use for the first few months at least.

KitKat 3Native support for direct-to-SD app downloads

One of the top annoyance of an ultra-budget Android phone is that there’s often simply not enough internal memory to install some apps. And while many phones let you transfer apps to an SD card, the initial installation has to be made to the internal memory.

We’ve found that this flat-out stops you from being able to install higher-end games in some cheap phones. If Google enabled direct-to-SD card downloads, this problem would be solved. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely as Google’s Nexus devices show a trend towards ‘SD-free’ operation being the Android ideal.

Shared photo streams

One of the neatest recent features of iOS is shared photo streams. These let you share a virtual album of photos with your friends, without having to upload it to Facebook.

It’s one of the key benefits of a unified system like iOS, but it shouldn’t be too hard to implement in Android either. As with the ‘Whatsapp’ style feature we’re dreaming of, though, it’s likely this would only work between up-to-date Android phones and tablets.

Let us know what you want to see in Android 4.4 KitKat.

Next, read our 10 reasons why you should care about 4K TV


September 4, 2013, 10:53 am

I am the only one that is finding Google more and more objectionable every day? I know every company aims to make money, but Google just makes me feel like some pathetic pawn in a big $$$ marketing game.

Some Guy

September 4, 2013, 11:54 am

I have a sudden urge to eat a KitKat bar... I wonder why???


September 4, 2013, 12:14 pm

Us too. Sadly, this isn't Nestle advertising - no free KitKats for us :(


September 4, 2013, 12:20 pm

Pretty sure you can download portions of maps for offline use with Google Maps.

Messaging- havent you hard of Google Hangouts?


September 4, 2013, 12:30 pm

You can cache some data in Google Maps, but it's not a patch on what you can do with HERE Maps. The point with messaging is being able to have it seamlessly integrated with the SMS interface. Y'know, for the non-techies.


September 4, 2013, 12:49 pm

Native Dual SIM support would be a big plus. Dual SIM phones are no longer a fringe group comprised of only no-name Chinese phones. Samsung, HTC, Lenovo and Acer to name just a few all have dual SIM phones. (A check on Samsung's site, listed at least 9 Dual SIM android models.)

The problem is that each manufacturer has their dual-SIM support as an add-on over the Android operating system, meaning 3rd party apps may or may not work on your dual SIM phone, (GO SMS is a good example of an app that works on some Dual SIM models, but not others)

For the more geeky of us, check out this thread in
Android Open Source Project - Issue Tracker


September 4, 2013, 1:06 pm

If you go to the area you want, and then type "ok maps" in the search bar, it will download the visible area.


September 4, 2013, 2:05 pm

I think it would be a bad idea to merge SMS and IM-ing apps. I reckon that users can handle using a separate app for IM, they already do with existing 3rd party services. Hangouts needs improving though, I've looked at it but it is not as good as whatsapp and then you've got to persuade everyone you know to migrate!
I would really like to see Google solve the problem of how system updates are deployed, the current confusing system of carriers rolling them out is a mess.


September 4, 2013, 4:14 pm

VPN On-Demand


September 5, 2013, 1:04 am

Sony has an incredibly easy to use universal remote app that can be pulled up anywhere in the software without exiting the current app.


September 6, 2013, 1:16 am

so i hope google purchases BBM

Chandra Sekhar

September 7, 2013, 7:15 am

Kit-Kat must be compatible to install on low-end devices at least for ICS installed devices

Amir Khan

September 7, 2013, 12:53 pm

Well it's a matter of personal opinion. I feel that Google is doing right and I am very impressed by their unique ideas every now and then.


September 9, 2013, 6:58 am

I think Hangouts app should merge with the sms/mms app, so google can hit Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp. It will be a great idea to have it integrated in stock Android. this will make it possible to backup our sms/mms in the cloud with a google account.


September 12, 2013, 9:40 pm

tv controller is very easy to use and to set up, i have no idea what you are talking about. its so easy and require no code, ive opened up tvs in bars with a 30second setup.


September 16, 2013, 6:44 am

I cached the whole of Scotland before my trip there the other week, maps still had all the info I needed not to get lost when I had no data connection in the Highlands....

Keith W

January 28, 2014, 12:37 am

You can cache Maps. do a google search on caching maps. I'll give you a hint: it's a special word

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