Part of the perks of having a Nexus is the quick software updates from Google. But lately, the latest iteration of Android, 4.4 aka KitKat has had a bit of a delay for older Nexus devices. But that didn’t stop me from putting KitKat on my almost-a-year-old Nexus 4! Right after the Nexus 5 was released, a ROM port for the Nexus 4 appeared on XDA (for the non-geek, a port is like a modified version to work with another device. ROM is the software that you flash to your phone to get it running). Quick as a flash, I grabbed a copy, and without a second thought, flashed it to my phone. Not so good. But I thought hey, this is just the first release – it can get better! Around four or five releases past, and now it’s running smooth as butter. With the Nexus 4 on KitKat, I can’t see a big enough reason to get the Nexus 5… at least not just yet.So here’s what I’m getting with the Nexus 5 port of KitKat on my Nexus 4:

  • Google Experience Launcher (GEL)- the Nexus 5 launcher sports new icon styles and more customizable home screens
  • Google Now integration on home screen – With GEL on-board, Google Now is just a swipe away!
  • Transparent Status and Navigation Bar – even the factory images of KitKat for the Nexus 4 does not have this.
  • Compatible with Franco Kernel – this is not unique to this ROM, but is very important if you want to customize your screen colors, overclocking and whatnots. /geek
  • Amazing Battery Life – Even though this is just a port, I am quite impressed with the way it handles power management. I can get around a whole day on a full charge with regular use.

 

For now, I can’t think of any downside on this update yet. Everything seems to work fine as it did when it was on Jelly Bean, but now with the perks of KitKat! So what exactly does KitKat bring to the table that JB does not? I can name a few…

  • ART – The new Android Run Time. It is slated to replace Dalvik in the future. For now it can be accessed only through the Developer options. I have been using it, and so far, it has been quite good at multitasking. You can really feel the difference between ART and Dalvik. Tapping the Recent Apps button is now instantaneous!
  • Performance Improvement – Though not very noticeable to everyone, the interface is now almost lag-free.
  • Printing – there is now a new option to print to Cloud print and HP devices. As manufacturers develop around this, more choices will be available in the future.
  • More streamlined Location Options – Now you can choose between battery saving, high accuracy and device only, instead of manually toggling the GPS,WiFi and GSM location services.
  • Dismiss alarm before it goes off – this is a subtle, yet very useful addition. Now you can dismiss the upcoming alarm up to 2 hours before it goes off.
  • Others! I can think of other things, but let’s put the dot here.

If you have a 2012 or 2013 midrange or high-end device, you can check with your manufacturer to see if your device will be updated to KitKat. I know the Galaxy S4s and the HTC Ones are getting it.