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OK, move over, Ars. The trophy for most in-depth review of Android 4.4 is now firmly in Android Police custody.

(h/t +Dianne Hackborn)
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50 comments
 
Clock app looks like it's been given a healthy waxing :-p
 
PFFFT I still beat him by like 200 words! and Ars has deadlines. and +Android Police is like 10 people.

I'm a fan of turning the direct screen capture thing into a bunch of gifs though, that's neat.
 
+Dan Sandler I would love to see more technical reviews like the ones Ars does for Mac OS X.
 
+Dan Sandler Job well done, Android Team! Love the improvement. Android is getting better and better. :)

I can understand the reason for not letting older Nexus devices get the new Google Home launcher, perhaps the transparent and the always listening mode for Google Now will drain battery life much faster then the stock AOSP launcher.

But the new status bar icon is confusing to notice a bad network connection if the not connected to Google services is put deep inside quick settings instead of the connectivity indicator in status bar. I hope in future release the connectivity indicator will be put back on the status bar again.

The perceived always connected due to connectivity icons are always white in status bar hit on me this afternoon. It was when my EVDO modem in WiFi router had connection issues with the provider which I didn't notice for a while until I gave up refreshing G+ then drop down the quick settings panel to see the no connection indicator inside.

Overall, I love seeing where Google and Android is heading. Nice graphic performance improvement for Nexus 4, less stuttering or jank compared to 4.3, and with ART enabled, it makes everything buttery smooth, impressive! ^_____"
 
+Ron Amadeo Deadlines at Ars exist for the sole reason of clearing the weekend for a 3-day company rager, you're not fooling anyone! 
 
+Romain Guy 4 months before the release of the next version of Android, release your first Developer Preview. Release a new build every 2 weeks until launch, for something like 10 beta releases. Copy the OS X release structure and I will copy the Ars OS X review structure. =)
 
+Ron Amadeo I never said I'd like such a review to appear on release date. Even weeks or months after release, I have never seen a deep technical review of Android.
 
Seems like this is as good a place as any to explain the changes to the system status icon colors in KK.

1. Whiten ALL the status bar icons! Aesthetic concerns definitely factored into this (as has been mentioned elsewhere, a more neutral SystemUI allows apps to manage their own color palettes a bit better), but also keep in mind that with the new translucent bars feature, the color became a usability problem. Good old 33b5e5 doesn't pop as well on top of random wallpapers, even with the background protection.

2. What about the MCS GCM indicator? +Liam Spradlin basically called it: “Overall, network connectivity has been made strangely more opaque in KitKat, though for many average users this isn't a huge concern.” In fact, most users find the colors confusing, if they notice them at all. Even the vanishingly small fraction of users who understood what the gray meant only really looked for it when things weren't working right; now you and I just have to remember to actually pop into quick settings to look for things like GCM liveness (orange is the new gray) and in/out indicators. Which brings me to…

3. B—BUT MY BLINKENLIGHTS?! So this (the removal of the little in/out data traffic arrows from the RSSI) was mostly a performance consideration, believe it or not. The way the data bits are bubbled up and drawn was not only causing a ton of extra rendering work, but actually forcing a layout (!) in the status bar as well. We could have more aggressively cached the bitmaps (rather than creating new BitmapDrawables from resource IDs every time, which was causing the relayout) but that would still have left all the drawing—multiple times per second in some cases—sucking away precious CPU and GPU from your game or Launcher animations or whatever. In the end it seemed like a lot of work (and battery) for what was effectively visual noise, so this too was booted to Quick Settings where it would be available for us nerds.

(Having gone through all this optimization, you can imagine the height of my eyebrows when I saw http://goo.gl/j5qBnG.)
 
+Dan Sandler Cue animated lens flare app appearing in Google app store in 3... 2... 1...

Seriously, thanks for that tech explanation. I had no idea rendering up there was so expensive. 
 
+Dan Sandler Aha, now I can accept the changes. Thanks for clearing things up. :-)

I choose performance over features anytime. Job well done as I notice huge performance in graphic rendering. ☺
 
+Romain Guy +Dan Sandler
I actually love the white icons, and while I was a little sad to see the arrows go, I'll take the performance stability any day. Thanks for being transparent (pun intended) and letting us know. It's often frustrating to see something you've gotten used to or absolutely love about the OS go away with no explanation.

Since we're discussing UI tweaks and stuff going away here, I'm hoping one of you can be as transparent and give a definite answer about a change that's been a sore spot for many a tablet user since 4.2. The retirement of the Tablet UI had about half of the Android tablet users up in arms, including myself. I totally understand the need to unify the UI elements to make the code more clean and efficient, and I've come to like the status bar at the top (though I still miss being able to see the clock in a full screen app) I think the one thing that most people miss the most about the tablet UI is the location of the navigation buttons. No one holds a 10in tablet in the middle, and not everyone has chimpanzee thumbs that can reach the buttons where they are located on a stock Android tablet. In fact, I'm laying in bed typing this on a Nexus 10 using Thumb Keyboard (since the stock Android keyboard also doesn't take into consideration the way people hold tablets...yet) holding my tablet above me with my palms comfortably on the bottom corners...like a tablet is usually held.

Have you guys considered adding in an option for users to move the buttons to the left side of the bar, or to the right side for lefty users? We have all that space down there and nothing getting in the way of making this a possibility. In fact, the ROM I'm using has the option, so I know it can be done. +Matias Duarte promised us an answer to this in a very, very long thread last year in his famous "Ask Me Anything" post from Oct 29, but never followed up. Hoping one of you can address this, and possibly consider the option I've mentioned. Thanks!

P.s. Androidpolice is quickly becoming my favorite Android blog. Nice to see Google giving them some love.
 
+Dan Sandler +Romain Guy +Roman Nurik I really like the KitKat update but one thing is bugging me... the rounded overflow menu icons... is this a new direction for android and in that case why is it just present in Google now? I think it just looks weird because the icon style in stock android isn't rounded... 
 
+Dan Sandler +Romain Guy why still no long press to toggle mobile data in Quick Settings? I get that so many users would be confused and claim their "phone is broken" if this toggle ability was enabled by default and they accidentally toggled it. You should include the ability to enable mobile data toggling from quick settings in developer settings! 
 
+Dan Sandler All due respect Dan, "The users didn't understand what it meant" is a poor reason to remove a valuable UI element. Hide by default? maybe. But remove it completely (from immediate use)? Have you any idea how many times as day I refer to the send/receive arrows and/or the Google connected status? I'll tell you, it is a lot. You may have fantastic internet connectivity over in the Googleplex but the rest of us need to have access to this information so we can make informed decisions while using the device/app, because otherwise it is really easy to blame the app/device/os vendor for a problem with your mobile network. If finding the whole "You didn't need that" mentality really frustrating.
 
+Curtis Fletcher This is the main gripe I have with Android updates, even with the one mentioned above. I think a lot of other people would agree, specifically power users. I'm all for dumbing down the OS for the sake of people who don't know how to use a computer, but please don't punish the rest of us in the process.

The reason I choose Android over iOS is because it represents choice and is very accomidating to personal preference. If I have a Nexus device (unfortunately, I'm stuck on a Galaxy Nexus on Verizon that won't ever see an official update, but that's a whole other can of worms) then I have the ability to customize to my heart's content, and Google encourages people to do so! But the problem with that is not everyone is willing to root their device in order to install a custom ROM with the tweaks they want or need for their own personal preference.

To me, Android represents choice, and I feel like taking away a feature instead of making it an option is counter intuitive to what Android enthusiasts use Android for. Instead of forcing tablet users to move their hand every time they want to hit the home button (inefficient) give us the OPTION to move the buttons. Instead of making the toggles in the pull down shade take you to the settings page, give us the OPTION to make them actually toggle, and give us the OPTION to pick which toggles we want. If someone wants to sacrifice GPU speed in order to have arrows in their WiFi signal, it should be an option. Instead of telling people that the Nexus line will never have SD cards because people don't understand how to use an SD card, ship the things with an EMPTY SD slot and let the user choose whether they want to use it or not. We all have tried data plans, after all...

Sorry to get on a soapbox. I love Android and appreciate everything the team brings us, but I hope that feedback like this isn't viewed as just someone kvetching, but will be taken to heart to hopefully improve the Android experience for everyone, power users and beginners alike.
 
Wouldn't drawing the network activity cause an invalidate rather than a relayout? And wouldn't the call to invalidate use a rect containing the network activity arrows only? I don't follow the explanation the need for a redraw was causing a relayout tbh
 
Bring back the network status coloured icons!
So we know when there is a valid Google server connection.
 
I just installed factory image. There is no transparent launcher/status bars :(
 
Those color changes and arrow indicators were the things that made me feel like home in Android, all those details are gone now and  it'll just feel more like another iphone (whenever the update comes),,, :(
 
+Dan Sandler what is MCS? And by GCM do you mean Google Cloud Messaging? Isn't that too specific for general Google services?

Honestly I was looking for where this connection indicator would be (or changed to) when it was known the status icons would be changed to white. I only came across the orange icons by accident while toggling wifi on/off in the quick settings.
 
+Dan Sandler I doubt you'll ever see this but I really hope you do and can get word to somebody who can fix the travesty of not showing GCM status in the notification bar.

The big issue is that this new system is NOT failsafe. If I check my phone and I do not have any notifications I now have no way of knowing whether there is a problem with the network or I'm just particularly unpopular at that moment. So this means that every time I don't have a notification pending I will need to pull down the quick settings to double check that GCM is working. That's ridiculous. If you needed white icons to work with a transparent bar then you could have easily reversed it so that the icon turns orange when there is a problem. The natural result of it being harder to see would also help draw attention to a problem that needs to be corrected. Additionally, since only the Nexus 5 has the transparent bars it is really pointless to force these icons onto all the other devices.
 
Sorry...I know this is petty but bring back the blue! The plain white looks, well, plain. Android always had a certain 'feel' to it, and now it's just cold and really doesn't give me the at a glance info it used to...
 
Anyone know of a downloadable app (like the "Fixed Clock" app for 4.2?) to fix this?  Just got the KitKat update on my Moto X and the the loss of the indicator colors is bugging me.
 
Вы сделали большую ошибку, когда убрали синий значек сети. Я живу в Москве и ДАЖЕ здесь, связь не настолько стабильная, чтобы отказаться от синей иконки наличия интернета.
При всех достоинствах 4.4, я не могу им пользоваться, потому что я не знаю, есть ли у меня интернет, хотя на значке написано H.
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Personally, the white hurts my eyes and gives me a headache. I had never ran into an issue with the blue "color clashing" with any apps I used. I find this aesthetically displeasing. White is the one color I avoid as far as texts of a bright screen goes. At least make it an option to change the texts. I also miss the blue to gray for my 4g on T-mobile since T-mobile isn't the most dependable. This push and update seems like evil to me, something that has kept me from apple... I might sell my Moto x and just go windows.
 
+Dan Sandler   Hi. This is the worst thing you could have done to the UI. It is absolutely necessary to be able to see in a glance if you are connected to GCM.  It's the ONLY reason I don't want to update my Nexus 4 and I don't want to buy a Nexus 5 (even giving up LTE support).  If you think you made Android better by removing a feature because "most people don't know what it is" they you are wrong. You actually made it worse.
I understand about the color, white is not very nice but you got a point, it's more neutral.  I understand about the traffic arrows, and if it is to improve performance, I think it's the right decision.
But making you go to settings to verify GCM connectivity is crazy.  It could easily change from white to red (or orange) in the status bar.
PLEASE, at least give us this option as configurable.  Android has many "advanced" configuration options much less important than this one.
Or at least give us the option through developer settings.

Thank you, hope you take this feedback , for what it really is , just an Andorid fan trying to help to make it better.
Gonzalo
 
+Alaur Rahman No. See https://android.googlesource.com/platform/frameworks/base/+/master/core/java/android/widget/ImageView.java line 360 - when updating the resource ID for an ImageView, the current drawable is cleared, including its dimensions, which is what is checked to avoid the relayout later. IOW, when calling setImageResource() on an ImageView for a new resource ID, relayout() is always called. This looks like something which could be fixed in the ImageView code though, by doing some more sophisticated checks (essentially check whether the newly provided resource/uri yields a proper drawable and only clear out the old drawable if it doesn't). +Dan Sandler Am I missing something there?
 
+Dan Sandler With every update "Google Play Services", "Google Search" "Google Now" and "Hangouts" apps are slower and slower in my Galaxy Nexus. What was instant before, now makes the phone stop responding for a couple of seconds.
You know what doesn't and actually works great? The Blinkenlights.
Come on... can we focus on optimizing the things that slowly but surely are slowing my phone to a crawl, instead of an "optimization" that is just removing a feature that thousands of people find useful? 
 
Dan himself made this change to all white! What an idiot. Nice way to justify your job! I changed the colors in the status bar !,
 
Also what happened to my grid in my photo album? It's gone. This clown Dan Sandler should not be allowed to update anything for android. I must be missing something too here. He works for Google! Don't get. Oh btw new update put all kinds of Google Shit on it that I deleted!!! Going to apple now. Eff android and Google
 
+Dan Sandler I think your understanding of most nerds is a little off, we don't want to be forced to go into menus to see information like up and down network activity, we want it available at a glance. Make it an option, don't just bury it. If you keep hiding relevant stats, I may as well go back to S60 on my Nokia N8 and have a better camera to boot.

Second update in a row that Google is acting very Apple-ish. Bad form, very evil. Not happy.
 
I was mildly disappointed by the idiotic white, bland, boring and uninformative notification bar at first, but the more I use my phone since the update, the more and more annoying this is getting. Thanks a whole fucking bunch for not even putting a menu option in to revert to colour. WHY?

Worse than that by an absolutely huge margin, however, is the fact that since 4.4.2 I have to turn off location services or my network performance is massively affected (ie packet transfers are sporadic and very slow with large gaps of inactivity). So now I can't use lots of features I should be able to use...

gee gee Google. gee gee. :/
 
Bring the blue wi fi indicator back. I recently had my modem go down. No wi fi in my house. Still showed connected to my router with white wi fi indicator. If wi fi indicator was blue I would have known right away I wasn't connected. 
 
This has been an on going problem since Apple came out with
the I phone 4 & 3. So I figured I jump ship and come over to
Android world, for the mere fact they had a few great phones out here. I
chose the HTC ONE M7. Speed was lighting fast, and it had decent color
scheme which I enjoyed. These updates especially this last one, ya it
got me, hit the dam update button which I managed to dodge for almost
two years now. So now I am stuck with a crappy interface for the
hardware modules.
What we all lost in this Android update 4.4.2:
1. Natural the battery indicator is no longer green, which it really should be!
2. Our up & down volume key color is now a nasty green when it was a cool blue.
3.
Now the big ones---- My gallery is no a peace of @#$. I can not get a
list view or just an icon view anymore. Now I am forced into this
slide show with music playing! Talk about eating up memory and battery
life!!
4. This one kills me, if you have the
lock screen on to protect you, the new screen say you have 10 attempts
before device data is deleted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me?
Anyone can take my phone and play with it until they delete all my
data? How is this an enhancement! DELETE ALL MY DATA, that is why I
have the phone locked!
5. Now I have these god for saken icon apps on the bottom of the screen! I don't need them there?
6. Had a nice logon box for the password, ya it too was blue and my keys would turn blue, also gone!
7.
Phone dialer has lost the auto search now you have to press a search
button, instead of just typing away!!!! Also color on top is now
there!!!!
8. Speed, where did it go. Yes I
have fastboot on, but just in general, signing in and moving from app
to app, is noticeable slowness, maybe by seconds, but it shows when your
timing things out on the fly all the time!
So many terrible updates!!!!
Why can any of the developers/carriers take us serious and listen to what we want!
*******************************************************************************************************
1. Let us customize all the colors anywhere on the phone.
2. Let us remove apps & icons that we don't need on a lock screen!
3. Let us have the choice to go back t any given time and load any OS version on our phone!
Make a statement in writing when we sign our contract with what any
carrier that if we choose to go back an install out dated OS that we
completely understand the SECURITY risks and understand that apps may
not work! But give us a choice and the option to do so offer
yoursite! Let us get the original OS that we had on the phone when we
purchased it and also allow us to download any version ever created for
it!
This is what we
want! Give us options and customization every where! We pay good money
for the products, we should have a choice to personalize in depth! I
have been requesting assistance for four to five years now and its sad
to see this fall on deaf ears! Someone please get involved that can
make a different and start helping their customers out!
We
should not be forced to unlock/root our phones! We don't want to be
programers we just want our options back! Listen to us and create and
bring back options. Thanks to all that took the time to read this and
maybe, just maybe we can get a stepping stone in the right direction.
 
Why not allow us the customers/users  OPTIONS to change the colors for the systemUI.  The interface can be made into a little system program, with options for the users to choose from??? 

Also a program to remove app icons on lock screen or turn them off completely, a check box off and option list in settings area or external program???

Gallery, you killed this one, give users the options to have the old view, which was simple!  Make this an option off the gallery menu and allow it to be saved! 
This new Gallery is sucking up more memory because it is calling a slide show and music to run everytime you just enter the gallery app icon.  Really?  

Color palette for the blue and the green, worked excellent on the HTC ON M7, so again OPTIONS please???

Give us an option with the 10 attempts, but don't delete my data just lock the phone out, like we do in a network environment!  Delete my data, can you hear so many people screaming LAW SUITE!!!!  Someone gets your phone and erase everything because of this feature!  Who created this code should be shot with idiot written all over their fore head!!!!!!

So upset with this crappy update it's not even funny!  I switched to Android verse apple for two major reasons over the years, speed of new hardware and customization of software.  We just lost these two!
 
Just lost 6 GB of space due to new update. PHUCKING ASSHOLES!! Factory reset next. Oh btw I have HTC one and new update 5.03.651.3 version has killed my 4G. Yes 4G is turned on!
 
Android is supposed to be all about customization and choice. Now as google gets bigger and its hands around the market, they're almost turning into another apple. And now google making excuses and lies etc. A tiny little arrow making a noticeable impact on battery or cpu, really?! Also, it would be 1 thing for google dumbing down and making the icons boring white but they're imposing their ignorance on app developers... notice how recent app updates are making their icons all white as well? Instead of lowering your standards to the masses, why not try to educate the masses? Include a tutorial such as a video or a screen tip that pops up once explaining or just a video link section? If people chose to remain ignorant to features and options, a few simple check boxes to turn of extra features would be far more intuitive and desirable. Why do you think people root their devices and use xposed like me or choose to change the os completely? You want people to get all the benefits possible from your product to boost your popularity and sales don't you? And those who don't care and want "simplicity" ie dumb iPhones are going to remain that way and buy that garbage either way.
Where can I/we post this stuff so google can see it?!?
As hardware gets more powerful, our software gets more ignorant? Its function over fashion when it comes to software... make it smart then design it user friendly and customizable.
 
This is why I don't update. Root, get all the beneficial root apps, get xposed and all the beneficial apps there and you're good to go. Updates always have risks and always have stupid little hidden undesirable changes. 
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