Are You Making the Most of Android 4.4?

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on July 8, 2014, How To Guides

If you’re like most people, you hit the update button and update your phone’s operating system and then never think about it again. But if you’ve got the Android 4.4 Kit Kat update, you might be missing out if you haven’t explored what the newest features are. If you want to know whether you’re making the most of Android 4.4 then read on to find out what’s new, and what tips and tricks are lying hidden in your smart phone…

Google Now

Google Voice Search

Google Voice Search

If you don’t already have Google Now downloaded, then you might want to get it. The predictive app learns about you from your mobile use and your locations and then makes suggestions for events in your location that you might like, gives you weather reports, traffic updates and all kinds of fancy stuff. Google Now is available on older Android versions, but only with 4.4 so you get to experience the full possibilities. Plus, on 4.4 you can voice launch the programme by simply saying “OK Google.” Google Now is really the future of mobile technology, and definitely needs to be experienced to be believed.

Get Immersed

Immersive Mode

Immersive Mode

If you’re a big reader on your smart phone, and let’s face it, who isn’t, then Kit Kat’s new immersive mode will be right up your street. Whether you’re reading an ebook or a web page, simply tap the small icon and get your text in full screen mode. And that’s real full screen mode, no status bar, no icons, nothing. When you’re done, just hit the edge of the screen and you’ll be plunged back into regular mode. Full immersion makes reading a lot easier…

Store Away

Google Drive Cloud Storage

Google Drive Cloud Storage

With older Android versions if you wanted to store something on the cloud (whether Google Drive, DropBox or another service) you had to first store that item on your phone. If you were downloading something big, that could be a problem. It’s no problem with 4.4 though. Simply go into your settings menu and you’ll be able to configure the operating system to save files and pictures straight to your cloud service of choice, skipping the phone saving altogether.

And Print Too…

Cloud Print

Cloud Print

Printing from a mobile phone has long been a sticking point for most people. Alright, it might not be something that you want to do too often, but when you do, there’s really no sensible way to do it without first hooking up to your laptop. However, Android 4.4 comes with built in Google Cloud Print, which allows you to print via WiFi or Bluetooth. You will need a printer that supports this, or one that has an app available in the Google Play store, but still, this is a vast improvement over plugging your phone into your computer to print.

Fancy Yourself a Developer?

Developer Options

Developer Options

Android has always been ripe for customisation, and up until recently you could easily access the developer menu to start making your phone operate the way you wanted. One of the down sides of the 4.4 update is that the developer menu has been hidden away to stop people tinkering around too much (and then presumably complaining to Android that their phone no longer works). You can still access it though. Go to Settings, About Phone and then tap on Build Number seven times and the developer menu will open up. Sneaky, and a bit of a pain, but doable.

Where You Are with Less Power

Location Battery Saving

Location Battery Saving

Using the location service on your phone, whether it’s for Google Maps, your weather report or any other app, uses plenty of battery power, since on older Android versions location services were based solely on GPS. 4.4 offers you the option to save power on your location services (accessed under Settings, Location, Mode) by switching to WiFi to determine your location or simple GPS. If you’re constantly draining your battery, this might be a change worth making…

Are You Prepared?

Anroid Remote Tracking

Anroid Remote Tracking

Losing your phone and all its data can be a nightmare, but with a little preparation Android 4.4 will help you out. You’ll need to go to Google Settings and then hit Android Device Manager, then check the boxes for “Remotely Locate this Device” and “Allow Remote Lock and Factory Reset.” Once this is done, however, if your phone is lost or stolen just go to the Android Device Manager page online and you’ll be able to get a location for your device, or erase all the data from it with the click of a button.

Watch Your Data

Monitor Data Usage

Monitor Data Usage

Mobile data use can add tons to your monthly bill if you’re not careful, which is why Android have added an awesome new data counter feature to 4.4. You’ll be able to see where your data is going, as well as how much of your preprogrammed limit you have left. You can even set up alerts for when a certain amount of data has been used or remains. For those who are mobile internet addicts, this function will be a godsend.

Know What’s What Any Time

Lockscreen Widgets

Lockscreen Widgets

If your phone is sitting on your desk and locked, you might not always be in a position to open the phone and open apps or notification bars to see your latest email or that Facebook status that just arrived. That’s where lockscreen widgets come in. Go to Settings, Security and tick Enable Widgets. You’ll then get a menu of possibilities to choose from, anything from email to Twitter and Facebook. The latest notifications from your chosen services will then be shown directly on the lockscreen of your phone, so you can see them even without opening your mobile up.

Smarter Caller ID

Google Caller ID

Google Caller ID

Finally, don’t you just hate calls from unknown numbers? Android 4.4 is working to eliminate the problem for you though. Using Google Maps data your phone will crossmatch business in the location that a call is coming from to try and determine who is calling. This is far from perfect, and definitely doesn’t work every time, but it’s a step in the right direction. Just make sure that Google Maps is running in the background all the time and you’ll at least have a chance of knowing who’s on the phone.

Any features we have missed that you’re taking advantage of? Let us know in the comments below.