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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.

While Android enthusiasts would certainly welcome a purification toggle, the device manufacturers wouldn't be so keen on it. HTC and Samsung wouldn't be able to force their Sense and TouchWiz UIs on users, and that would rob them of branding opportunities, as well as the extension of their own app ecosystems. That said, the hardware companies and Google might be able to reach a compromise: If Google Experience takes the form of a launcher, then all applications—including bloatware apps introduced by the hardware companies, carriers, and third-party app stores—would remain intact.

An interface makeover
When we talked to app developers during the lead-up to Android's five-year anniversary, several of them posited that Google will not only introduce an updated Holo aesthetic but also make its new design parameters more malleable. Now, some ostensible Kit Kat leaks show evidence of elements such as a transparent status bar with new icons and a "flatter" look that matches what Apple and Microsoft are sporting with their mobile operating systems.

You can see what Android 4.4. Kit Kat might look like in the mockup images that Android Police published earlier this month, one of which is below.

Meanwhile, an Italian Android site called TuttoAndroid posted several blurry screenshots of a puported new app drawer and lock screen. Check it out below.

We're also expecting Google to push thenavigation drawer standard already implemented in its Gmail app across the OS itself. In short: Android interface elements and related apps will be updated with navigational menus that slide in from the left. Using this design standard consistently throughout the Android environment could help mitigate the design confusion caused by device manufacturers that use their own custom hardware and soft-button configurations.

Indeed, unlike iOS, Android always looks different from one phone to the next, so tightening up the design parameters can only help to deliver a more consistent user experience. Navigation drawers are already live in the latest Google Play 4.4 update, which began rolling out late last week. If you haven't seen the update on your phone yet, don't worry—neither have we. If you're aching to take advantage of the new drawer, Android Central has some helpful tips on trying to force the update.

Messages done away with altogether
A recent post on the Android Developers Blog states that users will be able to choose their default messaging application in Kit Kat. We're hoping that also means a new Messages platform, which Android Police has "all but confirmed."

We've already seen Google roll Talk into Hangouts, unifying the two applications, and Google announced during its "A Morning with Google+" livestream that SMS will be possible through Hangouts. If that proves to be the case, Google may eliminate the Messages app entirely and roll its features into Hangouts. It may also take a page out of the Apple and BlackBerry messaging-app playbooks by allowing users to send texts over Wi-Fi, and finally enabling better group texting. Maybe Android's version of emoji symbols won't be so hard to use, either.

 

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