One can no longer dismiss Android as being “cluttered”.
Android 4.4 KitKat barely managed an October release with a Halloween launch. While it was not a complete visual overhaul, the features and UI tweaks that were added certainly had a positive impact on the user experience.
One of most prominent changes was a cleaner user interface. There is a new “immersive mode”, a feature which Google describes as “automatically hid[ing] everything except what you really want to see” on its official KitKat site. In addition to this, the software buttons are transparent, and many of the system colors and status bar icons have shifted from the iconic holo blue to white. This makes it so that the color of the OS does not clash with the theme of each individual app. By shifting to a subtler (yet still readable) color, The user can focus on the app’s contents without being distracted by the system. Overall, these minor implementations do not detract from the full functionality that is unique to Android, but arranges the features in a simpler, cleaner way that gets rid of the obtrusiveness that had existed in earlier versions of the OS.
Google Now has gotten more intuitive. The personal assistant can now be accessed by swiping to the side. It can also be activated by saying “Ok Google”. With more added functionality, Google Now has become the center of activity on the device. In fact, the entire home screen is now part of the Google Search app, which has been updated to add these new features. While there is still a GoogleHome.apk, the launcher has become dependent on Google Search to function. Google is really taking advantage of its roots in web search to provide a more streamlined user experience that is based on search.
The latest version of Android will require less power consumption. This means that older and lower end devices with a smaller memory and processor should be able to navigate KitKat without any substantial lag or slowing down. Nexus was originally geared towards developers, who could test apps and run tests on a stock Android phone. But after the success Google achieved with the Nexus 4, the company seems to have realized that there is a demand for this phone in the consumer market. Consequently, the Nexus 5, loaded with KitKat, will most likely become a catalyst of the OS, delivering the latest version to as many users as possible, even to the lower end devices. Nexus devices have become more and more oriented towards the consumer, with the current version packed with features like Google Now voice activation and camera settings.
After all, Google manages to sell Nexus devices at rock bottom prices, even with top notch specs (which is part of the reason why it is so popular). The Nexus 5 starts at $349 for the 16 GB model, which comes with an amazing 1080p display and the incredibly fast Snapdragon 800 processor. This, when compared to other devices with similar specs, is astounding. It is simply unreasonable to think that Google has succeeded in making the production process so efficient that they were able to charge half the price of its competitors. That is why I think that Google gets virtually no profit from the hardware itself, and has the costs covered by the various Google services and activity in the Play store. The true purpose of selling Nexus phones could be to spread the influence of Android far and wide. This way, there will be more activity in the Play store, and more people on other operating systems will likely switch to Android.
I think Google’s strategies (if what I said was true) were very well played, and have paved the path for future versions of Android. Instead of inundating KitKat with gimmicky, useless features, Google has concentrated on refining the UI and creating a tighter net to bind its web services with one central app — Google Now