KitKat and Nexus 5 details emerge

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The Nexus 5 phone is the first device to run on the latest version of Google's Android operating system, nicknamed after the Kit Kat candy bar. (AP Photo/Google)
The Nexus 5 phone is the first device to run on the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, nicknamed after the Kit Kat candy bar. (AP Photo/Google)

After an announcement in September that the next version of the Android operating system would be called KitKat, with little additional information, details about the operating system are finally emerging.

KitKat is designed to be more efficient, meaning it will require less robust hardware to run it smoothly. KitKat will be able to run smoothly on phones and tablets with less than 512 MB of RAM, the memory of the device where information is temporarily stored.

“Throughout the entire OS (operating system), Android looks cleaner and brighter,” Dieter Bohn, of tech blog The Verge, said of visual changes in KitKat. “It’s also whiter. … Google even switched how it handles translucency throughout the OS, replacing the dark black overlays with a semi-transparent white. The overall effect is an OS that feels less, well, robotic.”

Another update is the ability to say, “OK, Google” to activate a Siri-like virtual assistant — all without touching the phone’s screen. Users will be able to do things like search the Internet using this. The update is called Google Now.

Josh Prince, a BYU student from Las Vegas studying Russian, already has the Nexus 5, which runs KitKat.

“It runs like butter,” Prince said. “There are no hiccups. KitKat seems the same as Jelly Bean (the previous version of Android) with more Google Now integration.”

An updated phone app is also part of KitKat. As part of the update is, phone calls will receive caller identifications such as the name of a business, even when the business is not saved as a contact in the phone.

The ability to send and receive text messages will be handled through the Google Hangouts app, whereas it was its own app before.

Availability of the operating system for devices already out will be determined by cell phone manufacturers, like Samsung and HTC, and cell phone carriers, like AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Android is modified by most cell phone and tablet manufacturers, but it comes straight from Google on Nexus devices. Nexus devices are also usually among the first to receive updates to the operating system.

The Nexus 5 features a high-definition 4.95-inch screen and the latest processor and was also released at the same time as KitKat.

“The screen is amazing,” Prince said. “The size is hard to get used to, especially coming from a small iPhone.”

The Nexus 5 is now available in black or white beginning at $350. It is available for AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

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