Android 4.4 KitKat comes to Nexus S and Nexus One, unofficially of course

 

Despite Google’s decision to leave the Galaxy Nexus out of the KitKat action, it didn’t take long for the developer community to fill in the holes and release reasonably stable ports for the device.

Think that’s impressive? Thanks to the efforts of Android modding community, it’s now possible to get KitKat on both the Nexus S and even the now-ancient Nexus One! Yes really.

Nexus S gets the sweet taste of KitKat

For those interested in testing out KitKat on the Nexus S, you’ll want to turn your attention to the KitKat alpha 3 ROM developed by XDA member cn.fyodor. This ROM is essentially stock Android with few modifications made to it.

According to most of the commenters over at XDA, the ROM is reasonably stable for an alpha build and actually performs relatively well considering the device’s older hardware.

Of course it’s not exactly ‘bug free’. In particular, some of the Google apps are said to not work properly. The device does seem to work fine when it comes to calling, browsing and most other tasks though. While the handset might be able to work as a daily driver if you’re willing to put up with a few glitches, it’s still far from ready for prime-time.

 

Bringing KitKat to the Nexus One

For those that still have an old Nexus One lying around, developer texasice recently unveiled the new Evervolv KitKat 4.4 ROM for the Nexus One. This customized ROM includes a theme manager and a few other tweaks, though there is a toolbox that allows you to disable the added features to get a near-stock experience.

So how well does the Evervolv ROM run? Most reports suggest it operates fairly well though there are some missing features including no support for video recording, some general camera bugs, and some minor graphic glitches. There’s also a problem that makes ART unusable on the device (causes bootloops).

Another issue is that the ROM takes up a LOT of room! Considering the Nexus One has just 512MB of storage (with microSD for expansion), the ROM removes a few components and requires you to replace the bootloader with BlackRose in order to get Evervolv to work.

Basically you should avoid the Nexus One ROM unless you’re looking for a challenge. That said, after you go through the hassles to get it working, it actually runs rather well — minus some of the broken features.

Wrap Up

As you can tell, neither of these ROMs are exactly ultra-stable but it’s still pretty cool to see that even relatively ancient hardware can in fact run KitKat, even if there are some obvious glitches at this time. Not only does this speak to volumes about Google’s claims that KitKat has been optimized for weaker hardware, it also further proves that if there’s a way, the Android modding community will always find it.

To learn more or even download the Nexus S ROM, you’ll want to click here. For the Evervolv ROM, head here. Keep in mind that things can and do go wrong when it comes to flashing custom ROMs, so proceed at your own risk.

What do you think of the new Nexus S and Nexus One ROMs, impressed?

 

 

 

Source: Android Authority

[New App] SidePlayer | SidePlayer Pro

 

If you’re listening to music while using your phone or tablet for something else, you don’t always want to stop what you’re doing to fiddle with the song. If you’re in a game, for example, you may have to exit to the home screen just to get to your music controls, but SidePlayer offers an alternative. It pops a small control panel out from the edge of the screen when you need it, and hides it when you don’t.

SidePlayer ties into various music players like Google Play Music, PowerAmp, n7 player, and several OEM music apps. Just drag in from the right edge of the screen and the controls appear. Drag back, and they recede. This works in any app, even a full-screen game. The free version of the app is limited to this basic functionality, but the $1.75 pro edition includes themes, metadata display, more layouts, active area positioning, and more.

This app doesn’t make a lot of sense for devices that can show the notification shade in full-screen apps (like Samsung devices and stock KitKat), but it could be great for others. You can give it a shot for free, so why not?

 

 

Download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.side.player

Download Pro: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.side.player.pro

Google’s KitKat Quick Start Guide ebook is free in the Play Store

 

Android 4.4 KitKat landed on Halloween with a bag full of treats, including a refreshed user interface, new features, better integration with Google’s apps and services, and a slew of improvements under the hood.

While there are plenty of sources online where you can get up to speed with Google’s latest and greatest operating system, sometimes it’s better to go right to the source. For those of you who can’t get enough of KitKat, that source is Google’s own Android Quick Start Guide, Android 4.4 (KitKat), now available for free in the Play Store.

For some reason, the 53-page user guide is currently available in the United States only, though we expect Google to lift this curious restriction in the future. The Nexus 5 is selling in ten countries through the Play Store, and is going to become available from more retailers and carriers from around the world in the coming weeks.

Another requirement to read the guide is that you have Google Play Books installed, but that shouldn’t be a problem for most users.

In case you can’t download the user guide, Google’s offers a rundown of Android 4.4 on its developers site, while our own Chris Smith went through the top features of KitKat here.

 

Source: Android Authority

KitKat Makes Photospheres Even Better, Improves Stitching Quality And Brings Faster Rendering

In my opinion, Photospheres are one of the coolest camera features of Android. I don’t use them that often (not often enough, anyway), but I always take some new ones when I go visit my grandparents in Virginia, because the country up there is just too beautiful to ignore. These Photospheres give me something to look at when I’m feeling “homesick” for the place where I grew up.

As time has gone on, the team behind Photospheres has made subtle improvements with each Android version bump, and KitKat is no different. This go they’ve improved image stitching to find the “ideal place to stitch the individual images together to avoid moving objects, people, or otherwise difficult spots” through a technique called optimal seam finding. This is something that Photospheres has needed for a while, because it’s so easy to mess the stitching up because someone walks right through the middle of your shot or you move slightly. Hopefully this will fix that. There have also been changes made to improve Photospheres in “challenging” situations, like indoors.

Photospheres should also render faster in KitKat, as it now uses multi-threading to create the final product.

So, better pictures and less waiting. Sounds good to me.

 

Source: Android Police

In KitKat, the new launcher is part of the Google Search app, report says

 

Not directly visible to the KitKat user, it appears that the Google Search app has actually taken over the launcher in the new Android release, according to the discoveries made by a publication.

Google Search and Google Now received their own updates and visual makeovers in KitKat – which is expected considering that Google’s entire business revolves around search – but it looks like Google went a step further and made Search an even more important part of Android.

 

Ars Technica took a closer look to Android 4.4 KitKat and found that the Google Home launcher has been sacrificed in favor of the new Google Search, which takes over the screen in a similar fashion Facebook’s launcher does:

That’s right, Google Search isn’t just integrated into the home screen, it is the home screen. Everything you see on the home screen—the wallpaper, the icons, the widgets, and the app drawer—are all drawn by the Google Search app. “GoogleHome.apk” still exists, but it is an empty shell that forwards everything to the search app.

[Check out the image above in which a comparison between the Android 4.3 launcher and the Android 4.4 Google Search app is shown.]

The difference here is that Google does it in a more subtle way than Facebook, which isn’t obvious to the user and doesn’t change the overall experience when it comes to visual elements.

Installing just the GoogleHome.apk found on the Nexus 5 on other devices would only bring up an error message telling the user that the Google Search app has not been found (image below). Installing the Google Search app will fix the problem, but it will also bring Google’s Search-filled launcher to your device.

Is that a bad or a good thing? That depends on your preferences and your stance towards privacy and ads – ultimately it has something to do with advertising because that’s how Google make cash.

 

Not to mention that the implications of this finding are actually bigger when it comes to OEMs and their way of customizing the Android experience they offer especially because Google Search is an independent app that can be installed on any Android device.

On a related note, earlier today we heard that the smarter Dialer may someday get ads, but Google has told Ars Technica that won’t happen – but then again, a few years ago the company promised not to show banner ads in search results, a promise that was recently broken.

The new Google Search does bring new features to users including always-on listening (at least on the Google Nexus 5) and app indexing support (which means Search can open apps to respond to certain queries), but does the fact that the launcher is a Search front bother you?

 

 

Source: Android Authority