Android 4.4 Kit Kat: 12 features we want to see

News 5 Sep, 2013

Updated: Visual voicemail, revamped messaging and enhanced multitasking are just some of things we'd like to see.

Google has confirmed that Android 4.4 KitKat will be the next edition of the world's most popular smartphone operating system.

The next version of Android was widely tipped to be known as Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, but after some deliberation Google opted for a more recognisable name confirmed the change after reaching a deal with Nestle.

Features and release date of Android 4.4 KitKat are yet to be released, but the mobile OS is expected to arrive before the end of the year, mostly likely debuting on the next Nexus branded handset.

IT Pro has compiled a list of 12 other improvements we'd like to see in Android 4.4. Do you agree?  Are there any features you'd like to see Google introduce? Let us know below.

12. Improved security

Despite its popularity, security is still a core problem for the Android platform. This is primarily down to the Google Play store being a infiltrated with apps containing malware malware, but isn’t the only cause.

Most recently, Bluebox Security discovered a “Master Key” flaw, which means that 99 per cent of devices vulnerable (900 million) can be hacked. A patch is being rolled out as we speak, it’s another major sign that Google needs to do more to ensure its devices are safer.

11. Performance profiles
We’ve already got the ability to toggle between silent and flight mode, but enhanced profiles which can be customised to alter the performance levels of the device will be invaluable as they can help to save battery life or boost CPU speeds for complex tasks .

OEMs such as Motorola and Samsung already offer users things such as Blocking Mode and Smart Actions, respectively. We would like to see Google step up and offer a variety of modes built into Android, especially for its Nexus range. These will allow the user to save battery overnight, turn up performance when carrying using the device for gaming/multimedia and settings for in between.

10. Visual voicemail

There are apps which provide this service in the US, but there is little love for users in the UK.

Google and its OEM partners should use their close ties with carriers to kickstart this service in the UK. A native app would be useful to people who are frequently in meetings as they can quickly check whether a voicemail they have received is urgent.

9. Beef up Google Now

Google Now was introduced in 2011 as part of Android Jelly Bean 4.1, but it's usefulness is largely restricted to the US.

In the UK, the software primarily functions as a reminder tool for events you may have – and is always on hand to show you how long it will take to get home from any given location. We expect Google to make some more partnership announcements, which will extend the usefulness of Now outside of the grand ol’ USA.

8. Ability to turn off OEM skins on any device

When Android 4.4 KitKat launches, it is expected to arrive on a brand-new handset carrying Google’s 'Nexus' branding. 

Likely to be dubbed the Nexus 5, this smartphone will ship with the vanilla version of Android, and will be developer friendly. OEMs such as HTC, LG and Samsung will place their custom skins over the top of Android KitKat when it is released on their handsets to differentiate them.

It would be good if Google built-in a master switch into Android, giving users the choice to switch off these OEM skins without having to root devices. 

The chances of this happening though are virtually zero. OEMs such as HTC and Samsung add features which will only work with their respective skins active, and they are not going to want to let users disable them. Google is unlikely to pull rank on its partners too – as it feels that one of the strengths of the operating system is its customisation.

7. Child/Business-friendly modes as standard

Kids Corner was a useful feature that Microsoft introduced in the Windows Phone 8 OS. Microsoft effectively built a sandbox into the mobile OS, allowing users to lockdown sensitive information like emails, while allowing kids to access features such as games. It would be good to see Google incorporate a similar feature into Android.

BlackBerry built-in its Balance feature into Z10 smartphones. This allows IT admins to separate business and personal data – and means that employees cannot copy sensitive information from one side to the other. It also means when a user leaves an organisation, the business side of the handset can be wiped without affecting the personal information.

Samsung is already trying to make inroads into the enterprise by launching a Secured Edition of Android known as Knox. This aims to replicate the functionality of BlackBerry Balance, so it is possible to do so. 

6. Find my Droid

You'd expect a simple feature like this to be included in a comprehensive system such as Android, but it has yet to materialise. 

With the firm’s extensive mapping service, and GPS included into handset, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Google to build this functionality into the heart of the OS.

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How about making the email client work properly and not repeat the emails one has deleted, and deleted, and deleted,,,,,

Offline maps works fine in Android right now. It's really easy: you draw a square on the map and it gets downloaded. It shows you what you have already downloaded. I used it a couple of weeks ago in Tasmania. It worked brilliantly.

Google really should deal with security as a priority over all other features. In this respect I would suggest that altering Android to 1> Provide an official Root Mode/Login, 2> Add the ability to install kernel features as modules without rooting, 3> Add features to generic Android that are popular and cannot be added without rooting, 4> Incorporate support for features more befitting a Desktop Computer such as ability to interact with local as well as internet services including storage.
Android Devices are extremely powerful and approach the power of the Desktop Computers but lack the ability to replace the Desktop or at least fully interact with it in a more substantial way.
Android needs to adapt to service other users beyond the needs of a basic Telephone or Tablet user.

Not having built-in root is the #1 cause of malware being introduced through users downloading bogus rooting tools.

It's mind-boggling why this situation continues in Android v4.

I won't be getting anymore Android devices until the malware and App scrutiny through the Google Play store is tightened up.

Android is still not a platform you can trust. Which is a shame.

How about a slimmed down efficient kernel for smaller memory devices. My Huawei only has 512mb of memory and ICS is using so much I'm always running out of memory . I don't want to go back to Jelly Bean and No, I can't afford a better smartphone.

Hullomail does visual voice mail fine in the UK

Battery life, battery life, battery life. My HTC Evo 3D is ALWAYS running out of juice...both on Gingerbread when I first got it and now on ICS.

I've got to ask... What sort of rubbish are you downloading, or why aren't you paying attention when you download the "ROOT MY FONE (NO REALLY!)" (1 star, needs every single permission) app instead of the "I'm a highly reviewed and respected rooting app" (5 stars, needs access to 1 permission) app?

It's not the consumers in the UK who don't like visual voicemail. I had visual voicemail in my O2 iphone 3GS in 2009 and LOVED it.

But it ceased when the contract ended - and none of the other operators offered it at all - and the only way I could get it from O2 was by going back into contract - which I was hardly likely to do with a 2 yr old iPhone.

So it's the operators, not the consumers.

Just get some antivirus, I use Avast works like a charm. Scan every app installed on your device.

Great ideas , need to add more customization to notification order, better lockscreen and more widgets with the ability to add more than one to a screen, more voice actions for daily tasks and ability to do them hands free and getting responses with infirmation request without having to look at your phone, including correcting mistakes, headphone physical volume controls, wtf google?, one spot of all personal communication and social networks, chats, etc receiving, seeing communication notifications, and the ability to respond. A true unified box. Notification center doesn't count. Can't see previous messages, + system notifications come in. Better text selection by allowing swipes left and right across keyboard to move cursor to a certain spot easier.

I can already use visual voicemail with the TuGo app on O2 with Pay Monthly in the UK.

An improved native clock app that lets choose playlist/album from play music as an wake up to alarm.

ability to transfer files to external sd card without rooting!!!!!!!

Time sync with NTP built in as an option. It cannot be that difficult...

Babel already exists. It's called Google Hangouts. This makes for a nice wish list, but it would have been nicer to see more reasonable requests. Google has no control over Touchwiz, Motoblur, or HTC Sense. There's no way they could possibly prevent Samsung, Motorola, and HTC from changing android. That isn't a software feature. Backup and "find my droid" (shudders) are the only two that are both necessary and feasible.

And a big revamp of Bluetooth Hardware and software.

Google could absolutely prevent Motorola from changing Android - they own them :)

Have you mess that the Moto X will nearly be announced, Google Hangouts has been launched yet, Google made Play Store versions of HTC One and SGS4 which means they come without Sense or Touchwizz, or the datation of the article is wrong?

EDIT : by reading the comments, I can advice you to fix the date of your article...

The backup feature would be handy especially if it remembered custom app arrangements. I've had my phone a few times crash and all the apps reset which is a pain if you have all your apps organised

Does this mean that my Htc Desire with only 576 mb of ram and 512 mb of rom can get this update.? it's running on android 2.2 though. and when yes can it be upgradable directly from 2.2 to 5.0 or do i have first to upgrade it to 2.3 and then to 5.0 .?

It will smooth as ios?

How about a hologram message to replace SMS.

Android noob^

Yes, and native ex-FAT and NTFS R/W support

Multi tasking should like as in Galaxy Note 10.1. Not just place apps side by side but use them in wi dows. Samaung already made this and I would like to see every apps in wi dows.

Make a cloud service please Google please

Complete Android back up is a no brainer. Why in the world has this not happened yet?

Google does have a cloud service - Google Drive. I think you get 5GB free last time I checked.

Bro, do you even English?

Good points but looks like someone missed a couple memos:

6. Android Device Manager already exists, its been over 2 months now!

5. Hangouts? Hello?

The writer seems to be awfully out of date with Android news..

Uhm they do have find my droid, it's called Android Device Manager and it works on every Android device 2.3 and higher

The last thing on Googles mind is security,
they couldn't care less if apps are filled with malware or spyware.
WHY? ask.
Well it's a well known fact that Google is the largest
spy out there, closely followed by Facebook.
Google is not happy unless it can gather as much information about you as posible.
So anyone using Android will suffer the following problems.
Follow your movements by tracking your locating at anytime of the day.
Read your personal data
Read your contacts
Access your data / accounts
and read phone calls.
As to why google needs needs to do this I've no idea
either they want know the business of every user in the world.
Or it's a way for them to force advertising and spam around the world.
What can you do about ?......NOTHING


No mater a number of updates come
But the play store is filled with garbage all stupid apps use less apps u people better start filtering the apps in your play store

And how do u people get all this stupid names for your softwear what dose kit kat mean ????

Better telephony app- standard Android app on the Nexus is horrid

Why are you using a 3+ year old phone? It doesn't matter what the next operating system has in the way of battery improvement when you have an antiquated device that can't run the new software.

I got the phone in December 2011, and I'm still on contract. December 2013 cannot come soon enough. Regardless of the device, battery life should always be priority #1, #2 and #3 when working on a mobile operating system. All of the cool features in the world are worthless if your phone or tablet's battery is dead.

nice list, and i like how you added visual voicemail, this is offered through google voice but it needs to be baked in better. Also add battery, battery on android compared to IOS just plain sucks. Sad part is iphones have smaller batteries than most androids and still last longer for actual use.

The mani problem with android os is its background process which consumes juice even not using them so it would be better if Google work on the way of background task and reduce them to save juice I have experienced about 8% averagely was drained for 10-12hours even not using the phone after full charge in my Xperia L it would be better to provide smart background management and make to enjoy the features of androidos for bit longer for two days or more.I really don't know about the consumption of battery while using data which depends os or by the network provider it is other thing to be concentrated because the battery drains very fast if use data services after all if u got a mobile with most features and without battery how it would be! So every after creating a new feature that should be optimized to consume least it can definitely if it works then android will go to 2 or more billion in lesss time which was taken for so!

ADM is rather new and came out ~ July so in a way IT Pro deserve a reprieve.

However this list is now 11 not 12 with ADM so IT Pro please think of more wishlist features!

They also state this post is from April!
"This article was originally published on 24 April, but has since been updated to reflect the name change of Android from Key Lime Pie 5.0 to KitKat 4.4."

IT Pro Originally wrote in April and wrote the following addition "This article was originally published on 24 April, but has since been updated to reflect the name change of Android from Key Lime Pie 5.0 to KitKat 4.4."

with over a million apps in PlayStore, how do you expect them to filter them - even Apple's App Store is filled with garbage stupid apps, the amount of fart apps and other junk is ridiculous - it's what happens when you get well over 500k total apps, a LOT will do virtually nothing

you just need to be more intelligent about your searches, and then ignore the 3 star or below apps - it's not that difficult...

kit Kat is a chocolate bar.

Well to my point of view, Android started to suck.. it cant catch up with Applez ios even after steve job's death... so its either Tim cook is as much brilliant as Steve or android is just a big fat turtle that consume so much battery life for nothing and has less amout of apps which arent actually safe for users... I ve got Samsung s2 and was looking forward to get an HTC One x or so but as android is pressing so much I d prefere to get an iphone even if it was extremely expensive for me.... at least its a company that cares for its own users ...

Can i upgrade my HTC Desire Sv to Android 4.4 ?

Hi Ahmad,

Which year did you buy this device and which version is it currently running.

Tech Ed, IT Pro

I bought it in 2012 and currently i'm using android version is 4.0.4 .

I'm shocked Android 4.4 doesn't have full backup & restore including the screen layout.

Code analysis and automated testing in a virtual machine. Proper POLA on the phone should be sufficient, though.

Sorry, but what does POLA mean?

oh, and how will code analysis & automated testing stop there being loads of rubbish apps in any of the stores? you can release dumb apps as much as you want to Google Play or the App Store, and it won't be stopped by code analysis - look for "fart" in either and it returns LOADS on both!

Sorry, it's the Principle Of Least Authority:

Basically code only being allowed to do what you want it to do. Firewalls did this for networking, and Linux uses users and groups to manage file/device permissions, eg "www-data" only being able to serve content from the "/var/www" folder.

Sorry, but I don't understand how managing the permissions & data would stop garbage apps being in the store - a lot of rubbish apps won't even interact with anything apart from the screen & sound system

Again I use the fart app as an example - it does nothing but make stupid sounds, and the app stores are FULL of them, and a few years ago one was the highest selling app in the App Store for several weeks, making it's author a millionaire from 99c sales

There are LOADS of useless apps, and you have to wade through them to find the good ones, and it's not Google's or Apple's fault, it's the fault of the users for accepting them - if nobody downloaded them, nobody would write variations, but it always falls to the lowest common denominator, which are the idiotic users, and those of us who only want to install decent apps have to suffer through the rubbish to find them

Use Microsoft products instead.