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It's that time again! What to expect in Kit Kat, Google's imminent Android release

Florence Ion | Oct. 31, 2013
Rumors are swirling around Android 4.3, and these are the ones that have a fighting chance of proving true.

Every day is a tease: Will Google launch Kit Kat today? Was that really the Nexus 5 we saw floating around in that one video? Is this real life?

The Android scene is never short on rumors and speculation, so distinguishing between what's hearsay and what's legit can be difficult. Although we can certainly conjure up a list of wild features that we hope Google will announce in the 4.4 version of Android (if only for shock value), brazen speculation can take us only so far.

With that in mind, it's time to distill everything that is actually relevant and informative among all the Kit Kat rumormongering, and to pick out what we might plausibly expect to see in the next version of Android.

Even more cloud living
Android is already heavily cloud-centric, so it stands to reason that Google will fold more native integration of cloud services into the next Android version. Take Cloud Print, which lets you print from an Android device to a Google Cloud Print—connected printer. It was released earlier this year as a stand-alone application in the Google Play Store, but judging from a leaked screenshot (below) of an early build of Kit Kat, Google will likely roll the feature into Android rather than offer it as a separate download.

Google might also integrate Wallet directly into the OS, giving new energy to its 'Tap to Pay' feature, which allows you to pay for small, sundry items (Starbucks coffee, McDonalds sandwiches) with your phone. The same leaked screenshots that suggest cloud printing is on deck also reveal a Payments section in the Settings menu (see below), lending credence to the notion that you'll no longer have to navigate through to the Google Play Store to enter or edit your payment information. That convenience alone could get more people to use Google's Wallet platform.

The direct integration of Wallet might also quell the proliferation of competing payment apps, not to mention the Isis alliance that pits AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon against Google Wallet. A new, baked-in Google Wallet could include functionality similar to AirDrop in iOS, too, letting you "beam" money (instead of files) to friends. You may never have to carry cash again.

A 'Google Experience'
It sounds a bit more farfetched than some of the other rumors making the rounds, but Android 4.4 Kit Kat might launch alongside a Google Experience option that lets you, well, "purify" your phone's interface. A log-file leak suggests evidence of an upcoming app called Google Home that acts as a launcher and essentially overlays the stock Google environment on top of whatever custom interface your device is running.

Similar to the Developer Editions of Android hardware, the launcher would be released in the Google Play Store as a coding tool, making it cheaper and easier for developers to emulate the stock Android environment on any phone that runs Android 4.4. There's definitely precedent for this type of utility, as Google released "pure" Android editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4 earlier this year in part to give developers more hardware to work with than just the Nexus devices. Releasing an app to serve developer needs certainly makes sense, but obviously we don't know how the tool might roll out to the general public.

 

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