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November 4, 2013updated 22 Sep 2016 3:59pm

Top 10 Nexus 5 features

What separates Android’s new 4.4 flagship mobile from the competition?

By Ben Sullivan

With the release of Google’s new mobile device, the Nexus 5, we see Android roll out its new operating system, Android 4.4 KitKat.

Continuing the confectionary naming tradition, the update from Android 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’ sees new features that will soon arrive onto other Nexus devices (Nexus 7, Nexus 10) and then onto further mobile devices that use Android.

But what makes 4.4 so special? CBR takes a look at the Nexus 5 and gives you the lowdown on Google’s new iPhone killer. Here are our top 10 features of the Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat.


Google Now is always listening

Google Now, Google’s intelligent digital assistant that is comparable to Siri, is now constantly listening out for the words ‘OK Google’.

Saying this special phrase, the phone will instantly respond to voice commands like calling contacts, searching Google or setting reminders. This saves having to launch a separate app.

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Searches can be made directly from the homescreen without having to tap any buttons, just by starting your commands with ‘OK Google’. This always-listening feature was first introduced with Google’s smart glasses Google Glass, which is voice-activated by the phrase ‘OK Glass’.


4G connectivity offers faster browsing

When the Nexus 4 was released in late 2012, it seemed to offer everything you could possibly want from a smartphone, apart from one thing: 4G.

However, with the Nexus 5, Google will find its new flagship nestled perfectly within the booming 4G storm happening in the UK. Superfast browsing will be a dream on the Nexus 5, which comes ready for 4G connectivity.




Android 4.4’s Advanced Photo Editor

Android 4.4 on the Nexus 5 features an advanced photo-editing suite that Google has optimised for use on both smartphones and tablets.

"The editor is pretty powerful, works on tablet and phones, handles full-size image processing, zooming, re-edit, image exports, user presets, etc. This new version also adds more powerful specialized tools (graduated filters, per-channel saturation controls, local adjustments, etc.)," wrote Roard in a Google+ post.

You can also export an image from Photo Editor in different sizes and file formats.




Can’t get a Nexus 5 yet? Don’t worry, Android 4.4 will also come to other devices…

Following the announcement of the Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 Kitkat, other mobile manufacturers have announced that they will be updating their smartphones with Kitkat.

Google announced that previous Nexus devices, including the Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 7 and 10 tablet computers would get the update within the coming weeks.

HTC also confirmed that it would be updating its HTC One line of devices, including the new One Max phablet to Android 4.4 Kitkat, with the HTC One seeing the update within 90 days.

Other smartphone manufacturers are currently looking at the update, although it is known that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will not get the Kitkat update.

Support for lower-end phones

One of the big problems for developers on Android is that multiple versions of the OS that aren’t up to date exist on various devices. While this isn’t an issue for users as such, it poses massive problems to developers who have to programme their apps to support multiple versions of Android.

This is known as fragmentation, but Google has taken steps towards minimizing the problem through the decoupling of its own applications and services from the operating system into separate downloadable apps. That allows users on older versions to update these apps through the Google Play store manually.

Now Google is taking its battle with fragmentation a step further by reducing the system requirements for Android 4.4 Kitkat. In doing this Google has made it possible to run Kitkat on much lower power devices.

Cloud printing

Maybe not the most exciting of features, but this one is helping the Nexus 5 to be futureproof.

You can now print using Google Cloud Print via the phone, with the API for the service opened up to developers, which means we can expect support for this by some of the big names in the Google Play store very soon.

"Android 4.4 introduces native platform support for printing, along with APIs for managing printing and adding new types of printer support. The platform provides a print manager that mediates between apps requesting printing and installed print services that handle print requests," said the Google blog.

"The print manager provides shared services and a system UI for printing, giving users consistent control over printing from any app.The print manager also ensures the security of content as it’s passed across processes, from an app to a print service."



Full-screen immersion

With Android 4.4 KitKat, using apps like ebook readers and web browsers has become a much better looking experience. 4.4 changes the way the system-level interface elements are presented, including the status bar at the top of the screen and the Android menu buttons at the bottom.

So, instead of your screen being permanently ‘bracketed’ by two black bars, the top notification bar is now transparent, allowing your wallpaper to come through slightly. The bottom menu bar also disappears when the app is in full-screen mode, allowing things like ebooks to take up full real estate of the screen.

Dragging your finger down from the top of the screen or up from the bottom of the screen now reveals the notification or menu bars when in full screen applications.



No, the text isn’t wonky, that’s me in the middle of ‘turning’ a page.


Improved communications interface

The Nexus 5 introduces a new phone app which now automatically prioritises users’ contacts based on the people they talk to the most. Users can also search for nearby places and businesses, contacts or people in their Google Apps domain directly from the dialer application. If users get a phone call from a number not known, then the phone will search for matches from businesses or within local Google Maps listings.

On Android 4.4, we are also shown to a new unified messaging application, with Google Hangouts, SMS and MMS all being integrated, as well as offering IM through your Google accounts.



Low-power sensors without battery drain

With 4.4, Android now uses batch processing to reduce the battery drain while still allowing the Nexus 5’s sensors to track your movement and use other sensors.

In the iPhone 5S, Apple implemented a low-power M7 motion co-processor, but now Kitkat also features support for low power sensors using the process, called "hardware sensor batching".

Basically, Android will now queue up sensory input to be processed in batches, which means that the central processor doesn’t need to be in a high-power state all the time to accept and process data from the phone’s sensors like the GPS, accelerometers and gyroscopes.

This all claims to produce a much improved battery life, whilst still maintaining the data logging and sensory activities that enable features like Google Now, fitness trackers and location reporting.





NFC payments enhancement

With the Nexus 5, Google has simplified and accelerated the use of NFC (near-field communication) for payments. A large proportion of Android phones come with NFC, which is currently mostly used for pairing accessories.

In the Nexus 5, however, Google and Android have introduced something called ‘Host Card Emulation’, which facilitates the connection between the applications and the NFC hardware within the device. Google hopes that this new simplification will help with NFC payments and help other NFC uses gain momentum.



Screen recording

The Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 KitKat offers support for screen recording, and lets users capture video as they use the device and store the video as an MP4 file.

This is hand for developers, reviewers and end-users to create tutorials, marketing videos or just for fun.


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