As the dust settled about the newest Android 4.4 KitKat, you might be curious to know the latest changes about this new Android OS. Here are the things that you need to know about this new Android OS, particularly its new design patterns and changed UI elements along with a handful of new features.

The Lock Screen

The Lock Screen received a significant deal of changes with the latest Android OS.

  • The circle located at the bottom of the screen that pulled up the Google Now in the older Android OS, Jelly Bean, is replaced with an upward arrow. The circle suggests hints of the lock ring and the hint for the upward-swipe-from-home Google Now gesture.
  • There is a now a camera icon located at the lower right that throws the navigation bar off balance. However, it serves as a guide to the camera widget.
  • The transparent cards of the widgets are now sharper and the widgets can now be enabled or disabled by going to Settings > Security.
  • When playing music, the lock screen now shows an album art in the background.

The Home Screen

Basically, almost everything is new with the home screen.

Status Bar

  • The status bar, which used to be a solid black bar is now transparent with a hint of shadow to back the all-white icons.
  • The network activity arrows only appear in the quick settings panel.
  • The network connectivity is made more opaque in the Android 4.4 KitKat OS.
  • The pull-down behaviour is still present to access the notifications.
  • The notification shade is untouched except for white iconography and highlights.

Google Search

  • The Google Search widget is a bit refined. It has now an introductory "Ok Google" hint and a microphone icon that has an open oval when not "listening", and a solid one when it's "ready" to go.
  • The Google Search has now some animations that can be activated.
  • One interesting thing about the Google Search in the Android 4.4 KitKat OS is that it is both Search and Launcher. It is basically Google Search with access to apps, widgets and wallpapers.

Google Now Screen

  • One benefit of the fusing of the Search and the launches is the Google Now screen, which is now just a swipe to the left-most home screen. However, although swiping from the left is easier, the Google Now can still be accessed with the swipe-up-from-home gesture on the home screen.
  • Google Now screen now has new set of tools at the bottom of the scroll view.
  • Users can now get quick access to reminders, look at Google Now's settings and "teach" it what they want to know.
  • The "customize Google Now" gives a couple of new design techniques.
  • The behaviour of list items is now expanding into cards. When you tap a list item, you'll get a card that offers you choices you can select with handy iconography or typography. This is a much more dynamic way to select options than check boxes and radio buttons.
  • The whole screen now follows the grey-on-lighter-grey pattern the usual Android 4.4 KitKat sticks to but the Google Now screen holds a new shade of blue which is a bit of a surprise.

Icons and Folders

  • Icons are bigger proportionally than their counterparts and are easier to press, although they can look a bit over-the-top.
  • The folders function exactly the same but they had visual makeover. The folders are now based on translucent white shapes. Also, the folder icon is now a translucent white circle. So is the placeholder for folders in your dock. So is the squared pop-up spawned when you click a folder.
  • The folders can still only hold sixteen icons.
  • When you have a folder with 10 or more icons the square popup is cantered on the screen, while it used to be off to one side or the other in the older Android OS.
  • The icon labels are now typed in Roboto Condensed. This is a member of the Roboto family that's popped up across the Android 4.4 KitKat OS.