ANDROID USERS are being treated to a taste of Android 4.4 Kitkat at the Google Play store.
The Android 4.4 Kitkat keyboard, Text to Speech and Hangouts software updates are available to download for anyone whose device runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher.
The Kitkat keyboard brings with it Emoji support, forcing rival Swiftkey to acknowledge that it plans to do the same. Text to Speech becomes a standalone app for the first time, transforming your phone into a less robotic and rather foxy sounding British woman.
The most attention has been focused on Hangouts 2.0, the rollout of which is in progress. It has the inevitable bug fixes and the return of the much missed status indicators, which had been removed after the transmogrification from Google Talk.
The standout feature of Hangouts, however, is the introduction of SMS support, moving closer to Google's dream of having an integrated communications app.
It is a progressive delivery and many Android smartphones have yet to receive it, unless they wish to sideload it. In addition, the Hangouts launch has not been without its share of problems.
There have also been reports of problems with MMS support, and the fact that it does not sync SMS and IM into a single thread has perturbed some who expected that.
The app does, however, appear to import existing messages smoothly, owing to only offering an interface, rather than actually managing the messages. The integration issue might well be patent related, as a fully integrated app would be hauntingly familiar to iMessage users.
However this too shall pass, and it's good to see Google continuing to release its latest apps to the wider Android community. µ