Google is set to launch Android 4.4 KitKat soon. That’s all we know, and it’s futile to try to predict a date at this point, unless you want to try to read between the lines of the tweets from the official Kit Kat account. A few leaks have suggested that we’re going to see a few user interface changes around the operating system, like a re-designed dialer, in addition to the inclusion of some Google Services such as Keep and Drive out of the box.
Surely there must be larger upgrades in store. After all, KitKat is a brand new name, which suggests a large overhaul from Jelly Bean. We’ve already told you what to expect, but we’re dreamers and we want a lot. From a true backup solution to improved uses for NFC, here are the top five things we’d like to see in Android 4.4 KitKat.
1. A Real Backup Solution
This one should have been implemented a long time ago. Sure, you can backup apps and your home screen, and even save your photos to Google+ automatically, but we want an all-encompassing solution similar to HTC Backup and iCloud on iOS devices. We should be able to save the contents of our entire device at specified backup intervals, just like you can see in the screenshot above.
Google already offers plenty of space for most users on Google Drive, so it’s not a matter of finding the capacity but rather just making it a possibility. We want to be able to buy a new Android phone, turn it on, log into Google and choose our last backup. Then, once it’s finished, we could start up with all of our saved text messages, email accounts, social networks and more all ready to go.
2. A Google SMS System That People Want to Use
Google has been all over the map with this. Google Voice lets you send free text messages, but it’s not nearly as popular as iMessage in iOS. Hangouts works well, but it’s definitely more like an Internet chat application than a SMS client. We want something similar to iMessage or BlackBerry Messenger that recognizes we’re on an Android device and automatically filters that into a free-to-use SMS service provided by Google. That means easy group texts, hopefully with the ability to quickly share content such as photos and video clips, and a service that works both over cellular and Wi-Fi networks.
3. A True Mobile Payment System
What the heck happened with Google Wallet? It once seemed to hold a lot of promise. It seemed like the next big solution for ditching our wallets once and for all. But while Apple’s Passport has continued to expand, Google Wallet has largely floundered. Sure, there’s now an option to send and receive money, but that’s hardly the tap-and-go future we once imagined.
We want Google to revisit Google Wallet and really get it off the ground this time. Rumors suggest it could happen. As we imagined it, with Google Now, we could be alerted of nearby locations that accept Google Wallet payments, and maybe even pre-purchase mobile tickets if it sees that we’re about to take public transit somewhere. As we arrive at the train station, Google Now could pull up that ticket, similar to what Passbook does in iOS, and let us get on our way.
4. Easier NFC Sharing
Right now you can open a photo, or some other piece of media, and then tap it to another NFC-enabled Android device to share that picture. That’s kind of a long way of doing things, though. We really wish we could tap our phones to another Android device and then choose what we want to share. Maybe it’s several photos at once, or an application, or a book we recently downloaded.
The last idea would require Google to enable sharing of Google Play products, but Amazon already offers a Kindle Lend feature, and Barnes & Noble has LendMe, so it shouldn’t be out of the question. Samsung has already done a nice job using Wi-Fi Direct to share larger files, but we’d like to see something like this become much easier to initiate and use by default, and across all Android devices including tablets and smartphones.
5. Voice Activated Commands
Please Google, please, just take Motorola’s system for speaking to the Moto X and build it right into Android 4.4 KitKat. It works incredibly well, and we love saying “Ok Google Now,” and then asking for the weather or a sports score from across the room. We know Google already has the technology, since it’s in Google Glass and was probably largely built by the Android team for the Moto X.
Our only fear is that there might be some sort of exclusive with Motorola to leave it in that phone for a bit longer, creating more of an appeal for the device. Along those same lines, we also would like to see the smart and interactive notifications on the Moto X brought to all Android devices. Or, on that same line of thought, the knock feature on the G2 that lets you turn it on without having to hit the power button. The only catch? Most manufacturers might turn these features off, or bury them, as we’ve seen with Samsung and its S Voice largely taking over Google Now in the first place. We can dream, can’t we?
Of these requests, we think the messaging and voice command services are the most realistic for now. Google Wallet has potential, but it has had a slow start with adoption from carriers who are trying to work with ISIS (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile), and third-party partners such as retailers, banks and credit card companies.
Improved NFC sharing should be a no-brainer, but it’s possible Google will instead take the route that Apple and Samsung have, by allowing some AirDrop type service for passing files over Wi-Fi networks. An Android Backup solution shouldn’t be too hard to implement, and we’re not sure why Google isn’t doing it already, so hopefully that comes soon as well. We’ll see, we’re expecting to hear some news sometime this month.