Thursday, November 21, 2013

Verizon Moto X receives a KitKat treat

Google announced on Tuesday the first non-Nexus device to receive KitKat (Android 4.4) and the name should come as no surprise. It's the Moto X. To be completely honest, it wasn't Google, per se, but Motorola Mobility, Google's (fairly recently acquired) mobile device arm, that made the announcement, and since it's a Google company, there's no surprise that the X is the first device outside of Nexus' to get the update.

While Nexus devices, which run stock Android, are always the first to get a ROM upgrade to a new major platform version -- outside, of course, any possible launch devices (in this case, the Nexus 5), Motorola probably does have an inside track to these things. Google tried to disavow any such insider nonsense when it acquired Motorola, to reassure partners such as Samsung and HTC, but it would be hard to believe there is absolutely no cross-pollination at all.

The update to the X comes before either of the so-called Google Play Edition phones (HTC One, Galaxy S4) have received their updates. It's already known, though, that HTC has delivered its ROM update to Google for approval and distribution, but Google will determine the timing of that.

Of course, the Moto X exists on many carriers, so which one did Google -- er, Motorola -- choose? It was Verizon. This choice should probably reassure those who see the "partnership" between Google and Verizon -- which had the exclusive the first really big hit Android device, the Droid, as disintegrating.

Motorola said the rollout would hit other carriers, soon.

Here is what Motorola says will come in the KitKat update:
  • An improved phone dialer. Now you can search for contacts directly from the dial-pad and easily see and tap on those you contact frequently.
  • More gallery goodies. KitKat packs in some cool, new gallery effects—such as Posterize, Highlights, and Edges. You can even use the Draw feature to annotate your photos freehand with your finger.
  • New Hangouts app. All of your conversations now in one place—texts, video calls, and other chats all together in one app. Plus, you can now send animated gifs and share your location.
  • Color Emoji. For when words aren’t enough, the Google Keyboard now includes colorful characters to send in text messages and other communications.
  • Drag to focus and expose. An updated camera app lets you control both the focus and exposure of your photos. Simply drag your finger to set just the right exposure and focus point.
  • And more ... Restyled status and navigation bars, new full-screen mode, and enhancements to Motorola features like Touchless Control.
One thing missing from the list is the Google Experience launcher; it seems that is still an exclusive for the Nexus 5.

Motorola said this was a phased rollout, as these usually are, so you may not see the update on your X right away.

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