Google Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 KitKatLast year, we saw the release of the Google Nexus 4, a fantastic smartphone that also introduced Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. It brought new features like a quick settings menu in the notifications shade and the inclusion of lock screen widgets. This year, Google stuck with LG as its hardware partner to produce the Google Nexus 5 smartphone and it came along with the brand new Android 4.4 KitKat platform.

The actual hardware was improved in nearly every way for this iteration, but it also came with several new Android 4.4 KitKat features that are not only fun to use, but they’ll also improve your overall productivity. And that’s the point of having a smartphone, right? To be able to do your job better, faster, and more efficiently?

Smart Caller ID Removes Anonymity

Normally, if you receive a phone call from someone who is on your contact list, the caller ID will put up the associated name and picture. If you get a call from an unknown number, though, caller ID will only display the number. That changes in KitKat, because Google will automatically conduct a quick Google search to unearth the identity of the unknown caller via local listings in Google Maps. On the flip side, your contact list within the phone app is now shown by priority, putting your most frequent contacts on top.

OK Google Leaves Your Hands Free

Get Handsfree Access to Google Now

Get Handsfree Access to Google Now

In some ways, Google Now has some similarities to the Siri voice assistant on the iPhone, but it’s also entirely different. In addition to the range of Google Now cards and other predictive features, Android 4.4 KitKat also brings in touchless controls for phones that support it. Just say “OK Google” from anywhere and it’ll activate the voice command capability to conduct a web search, send a text message, or play your favorite song. You never have to touch the screen at all!

Hangouts Eliminates Separate SMS App

Some people may not like this new feature, but it ultimately makes a lot of sense. Google has eliminated the old Messages application and integrated it into Google Hangouts. This means that when someone sends you a message via the web or via SMS, it’ll end up in the same Hangouts conversation. You can toggle between a cellular-based SMS and Internet-based Hangouts message via a drop-down menu near the top of your conversation.

Deep Linking Saves Time

In the context of the web, “deep linking” refers to when you link to a specific page on a website rather than the main homepage on the domain. With KitKat, Google is increasing this ability from within mobile apps. An example is when you search for a restaurant in Google, it may link directly to that restaurant in your OpenTable app so you can make a reservation without having to search for it within the OpenTable app itself. The content within your apps will be searchable and developers will key in on this new capability.

Quickoffice Syncs with Google Drive

Get More Done with New Quickoffice on Android

Get More Done with New Quickoffice on Android

As far as cloud storage goes, Google Drive is desirable for all sorts of reasons. It already integrates with your Google account and it maintains the Google Docs functionality we know and love. One of the new Android 4.4 KitKat features is that you can now open and save files directly to Google Drive from apps like Quickoffice. Edit your documents, presentations, and spreadsheets, then save them to your Drive. Quickoffice has also been newly redesigned for better usability and functionality.

Direct Wireless Printing Makes It Easy

I don’t know when was the last time I actually connected a cable between my smartphone and my computer, since I use a wireless connection for just about everything. You can keep up with that kind of wireless existence thanks to the embedded support for wireless printing through KitKat. You can print your photos, documents, or webpages via Google Cloud Print to HP ePrint printers, as well as other printers with corresponding apps in the Google Play Store.

Image credit: samharrelson / Flickr

###