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iOS 7′s 10 coolest hidden features

iOS 7
Apple rolled out iOS 7 yesterday, and with it, a number of changes to its mobile operating system. Most notably, iOS 7 looks vastly different from iOS 6, adopting flat colors and skinny text as its visual backbone. The operating system still works like it always has, but this time around there are a number of new, useful hidden features.

Text timestamps

Perhaps the most mind-blowing feature in iOS 7 is that text messages now have individual timestamps. Simply load a text conversation, then swipe from right to left, and you’ll invoke timestamps for every chat bubble in the thread. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an option to permanently display them, but finally having them is a great step forward.

Block contacts

In the past, if you gave out your number to someone at bar just to shut them up and get back to talking to your friends, you would’ve had to endure their text messages. You could ignore them, sure, but your phone would still alert you to their arrival. Now, you can block contacts from calls, texts, and FaceTime. Simply go to Settings, then either Phone, Messages, or FaceTime. From there, go to Blocked, and you can add contacts to the blocked list for any of the message apps.
iOS 7 folders

Unlimited folders

In previous versions of iOS, the folders had a hard cap on the number of apps they could contain. While having capped folders is much better than not having folders, it definitely wasn’t enough for some of us. Now, folders can hold an infinite number of apps. Unfortunately, there’s a trade-off. Previously, the capped folders allowed a four-by-four grid of apps. This time around, the uncapped folders only allow a three-by-three grid per folder page. So, you can have less folders cluttering your Home screen, but you’ll have to swipe around more often.

Built-in flashlight

The iOS platform has a plethora of competent flashlight apps that utilize the phone’s camera flash. Now, iOS 7 as a flashlight built in. Simply invoke the Control Center app by swiping up from the bottom of the iPhone’s screen, and the little flashlight icon sits in the lower left corner. It doesn’t have as many options as your standard fare app found on the App Store, but it’s fully functional, and finally built in.

Safari Twitter links

Safari collects missed Twitter links

Buried deep within iOS 7′s native browser, Safari, is a list of tweets from your Twitter feed you might’ve missed that contain links. Load up Safari, click on the bookmarks icon, then click on the @ symbol tab. It’s certainly strange that a cool feature like that is shunned away two-tabs-deep in a single app, but it’s nice that it exists.

Level built into compass

The compass app in iOS 7 now has a built-in level. Simply load the compass, then swipe a screen over. The level is a minimalist, black-and-white affair, but like with the built-in flashlight, you’ll no longer have to grab a level from the App Store.

Automatic updates

iOS7worldclockInstead of loading the App Store, navigating to the Updates tab, then hitting Update All, you can now have your apps update automatically. Go into Settings, then iTunes & App Store. Scroll down a bit to the Automatic Downloads section, then enable or disable automatic downloads for whichever app you prefer. We’d suggest shutting it off every option other than automatic updates, just so you conserve your device’s battery.

Spotlight search

In previous versions of iOS, you’d swipe all the way to the left screen in order to pull up Spotlight. Now, you can simply perform a downward swipe motion anywhere on the screen to invoke Spotlight.

Go back

Now, you can swipe to go back to a previous screen from within in app, like a back button in a web browser. Start the left edge of your screen, then swipe from left to right, and there you go. Unfortunately, some apps use that gesture to do other things, and there does appear to be conflicts with the go back gesture.


The iOS 7 multitasking pane is now much different. Rather than a little linear bar filled with apps on the bottom of the screen, you’re brought to a standalone menu that not only displays the app icons, but their associated window. To close an app, swipe the window up toward the top of the screen; but that’s not the trick. When scrolling through your apps, you’ll notice that the icons scroll at a different speed than the windows. In order to scroll though your apps as fast as possible, use the line of app icons to scroll rather than the windows.
Apple’s new mobile operating system has a plethora of new features, but the majority of them are front and center. So, while the above list doesn’t encompass everything that’s new about iOS 7, it does feature options and services that aren’t readily apparent

Typhoon Haiyan: Facebook teams with Red Cross to help Philippines :Donate now to emergency aid in the Philippines By Facebook

Facebook users are seeing a new item on the top of their news feeds - a button that allows them to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross to help people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

"This is the first time the Red Cross has had a large-scale donation effort through social media," said Kelly Hudson, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids.
Users can donate with a credit card or through Paypal. Those who want to give more than $10 can go to the Red Cross website.
The typhoon that hit a week ago devastated the coast of the Philippines, displacing more than a half-million people. The confirmed death toll stood at 2,357 on Thursday, according to a report by MSN, but aid workers believe the number will rise much higher.
"When the magnitude of the typhoon became apparent, both the Red Cross and Facebook realized this was a fantastic opportunity for Facebook users to support the relief efforts in a very easy way," Hudson said.
The donation link appeared Wednesday. The Red Cross does not have fundraising tallies so far, Hudson said. The link will remain on the Facebook news feed through Friday.
"We were excited Facebook wanted to partner with the Red Cross for this," Hudson said. "We are always looking for easy and convenient ways for people to donate, and this is a great way to do it."

How to upgrade the PS4 hard drive to an SSD

If you have any familiarity with today’s computer systems then you were at least somewhat disappointed that neither the Xbox One nor the PlayStation 4 shipped with an SSD. Each system opted for a mechanical hard drive, which brings sufficient storage and affordability to the consoles, even if that meant forsaking the speed and inevitability of the SSD. The good news is that PS4 owners will be able to quickly — and easily — swap out their 500GB 2.5-inch hard drive and replace it either with a larger model or a solid-state drive.
This video explains how to upgrade your PS4′s hard drive to an SSD in just a few easy steps…

Basically, the PS4 hard drive upgrade process is very simple. You need to slide off the shiny section of the PS4′s case, remove a single screw (denoted by the X, Y, O, triangle symbols), and then pull the hard drive. After that you remove it from the drive caddy, drop in your new hard drive or SSD with that same caddy, and put everything back in place. You’ll want to pay special attention to restoring the panel on the case, as it slides in from the top, not fully from the side (the video makes everything quite clear).
With the hardware in order, you’ll want to head over to Playstation.com and get the version 1.5 PlayStation 4 Software Update. This can then be installed on your PS4 using a FAT 32-formatted USB drive (1GB or larger), which will put Sony’s operating system on the blank drive.
ps4_pc_update_clip_diagram_usTo make the USB drive compatible, you’ll want to add a “PS4″ folder to the freshly formatted USB drive and then put an “UPDATE” folder inside. Drop the file you downloaded from Sony into the UPDATE folder and insert the USB drive into the powered down PS4.  Then you can start the installation procedure by booting the PS4 with a special 7 second long (or more) press of the power button. With that PlayStation should recognize the drive and start the installation. Just make sure you select “Reinstall System Software”. The installation of the OS should take about five minutes from start to finish.
After that point you’ll need to start fresh with your PS4 — connect to wireless again, add your PSN account, redownload your games, etc., but everything should go by very quickly since you’ll be rocking that speedy new SSD.

What's happening to iGoogle?

iGoogle will be retired on November 1, 2013. The mobile version was retired on July 31, 2012.
How did you come to this decision?
We originally launched iGoogle in 2005 before anyone could fully imagine the ways that today's web and mobile apps would put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips. With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for something like iGoogle has eroded over time, so we’ll be winding down iGoogle on November 1, 2013.
Can I save my iGoogle homepage settings?
Yes, you can export your iGoogle homepage settings (including country, language, theme, layout and gadgets installed) to an XML file.
To export your settings:
  1. Click the settings_icon_image Options gear then iGoogle settings.
  2. At the bottom of the page, click Export next to "Export iGoogle settings to your computer."
What will happen to the data stored in my gadgets?
All of your personal data stored in other Google products will continue to be available via those products, including Gmail,Google CalendarGoogle FinanceGoogle DriveGoogle Bookmarks, and Google Tasks. This means you'll still be able to access your emails, documents and events. Instead of accessing your data through the gadget, you'll need to visit the product directly.  
Some gadgets, such as the to-do list, allow you to download your data to a file. To download from your to-do list, click the Download all option under the My List drop-down menu next to the title of your list.
Most iGoogle gadgets are created and maintained by third-party developers. If you’d like to export your data, you should contact the gadget creator directly.
I really like iGoogle -- are there any other alternatives?
There are a number of desktop alternatives available. If you’re a fan of Google Chrome, the Chrome Web Store provides a similar range of options like productivity tools and applications to check the weather. In addition, just like iGoogle, you can personalize Chrome with a theme.
For mobile devices, Google Play offers applications ranging from games to news readers to home screen widgets.

iGoogle Is Shutting Down on November 1, Last Few Users Are Being Warned

Google announced that the customizable homepage iGoogle would be shut down a long time ago. The shutdown has been more than a year in the making, but there are now less than three weeks until the inevitable demise. 

Anyone still using iGoogle is now greeted with a very hard to ignore message warning them that the service is going down on November 1. 

The warning message directs users to Google's help page about the shutdown. The page explains why the feature is going away, it's not very hard to guess, not a lot of people used it. It also explains how to export your data if you plan to switch to one of the few alternatives out there.

"We originally launched iGoogle in 2005 before anyone could fully imagine the ways that today's web and mobile apps would put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips. With modern apps that run on platforms like Chrome and Android, the need for something like iGoogle has eroded over time, so we’ll be winding down iGoogle

Build your own VoIP System

This blog post is the first part of a series of posts, which describe how VoIP works and how the Sipwise sip:provider Platform enables you to start various VoIP business models.
  • Part 1, which is provided in this post, gives you an introduction in how VoIP works.
  • Part 2 shows how you can set up a secure and self-hosted Skype-like VoIP system for free using the sip:provider Platform within 30 minutes.
  • Part 3 is dedicated to the sip:provider Platform acting as an SBC in front of existing VoIP systems.
  • Part 4 describes how you can operate a whole-sale business with the sip:provider Platform.
  • Part 5 shows how to enable Over-The-Top (OTT) services using Apple and Google Push Notification Services.


VoIP Systems are seen as complex communication infrastructures even from a high level perspective, but they’re not. Well, VoIP is in fact complex in its details, but it has been abstracted by various projects in order to make it really straight-forward to use it, so it’s easy to start a compelling voice/video communication system or service (which I’ll name “VoIP system” or “VoIP service” throughout the document) from scratch, but it’s important to learn a few facts about it in order to choose the right base system for successfully running a VoIP service.

The Basics

VoIP just means “Voice over IP”, which is a generic term for transporting real-time voice sessions over the Internet. However, it doesn’t define HOW this is done, and even the term “Voice” is a bit misleading, because with the very same concept, you can transport also Video and Fax over an IP connection.
There are a couple of elements involved when you’re talking about a VoIP system:
SPCE environment
To sum it up, there are SIP Endpoints, which are the client instances of your customers. These could be software installed on your customer’s computers (popular software is Jitsi, an open source and cross-platform communications client, or Bria, a commercial multi-platform client for Windows, iOS and Android). Other possibilities are SIP phones like SNOM phones or Polycom Phones.
Beside the customer facing end points, there are SIP gateways which translate VoIP into traditional fixed-net and mobile networks. They pretty much act like customer facing clients, but usually are able to handle multiples of parallel calls. They are usually connected via multiple ISDN E1 or T1 lines, and sometimes an SS7 control layer is used on top.

How does SIP work?

In order to establish a communication session, you need a signaling protocol, which tells the involved parties who wants to communicate with whom, and which media capabilities might be used (e.g. plain voice, voice/video, fax etc.). There are several protocols out there, like Skype (a proprietary protocol) and H.323 (more or less obsolete since 2004) and the most important and nowadays most wide-spread one and the one we’re concentrating here: SIP, the Session Initiation Protocol.

SIP Registrations

A very important part of VoIP is the registration of customer endpoints. It means if a customer starts its SIP client, the client tells the SIP server at which IP and port it is reachable in case there’s a call towards this customer. The call flow looks like this:
A SIP registration call flow
The important part, beside the authentication scenario which is a http digest authentication, is theContact header, which indicates at which IP:port the customer is reachable.
SIP Register Contact
So during start-up, the client tells the server the contact address it’s reachable for subsequent calls.

But what about real Phone Numbers?

Ok, so we learned that alice@example.com can contact bob@example.com if bob@example.com registered up-front (telling the SIP service provider at which IP:port he’s reachable), and vice versa. But what about real phone numbers?
In order to receive calls from the PSTN (public switched telephony network), your SIP service provider needs to map a PSTN number to your SIP URI, e.g. he needs to know that alice@example.com is an equivalent to for example +43 1 1001. If somebody calls 4311001 in the PSTN, it’s routed through the telephony network down to your service provider, which holds ownership of that number. The service provider is now responsible to translate the number to a corresponding SIP-URI, and then route the call to the IP:port where this user is registered.

How about a Video Stream?

The important thing here is that any media stream in SIP signalling is negotiated end-to-end. This means that if alice@example.com calls bob@example.com, alice proposes a list of media sessions (e.g. audio with a specific list of codecs, and video with a specific list of other codecs), and bob compares this list with its own capabilities and then replies with a (potential) sub-set of the offer from alice. So if alice proposes an audio and video call, but bob doesn’t have a web-cam, he’ll reply with a sub-set of alice’s offer, which only contains the audio-part. However, if bob has a web-cam, we’ll reply with an according answer telling alice that both audio and video streams are available.


If you want to work with “VoIP”, you most likely will work with the SIP Protocol. SIP will allow you to do two-way, end-to-end communication, but you’ll need SIP clients to attach to a system like this. Do you need do pay for an external service in order to start a VoIP system? No!

What’s next?

The next post will describe how you can use the open source Sipwise sip:provider CE to build a VoIP system from scratch within an hour. It’ll show how you can create a Skype-like service within your network using IPv4, IPv6, TLS and SRTP.
Follow us at Twitter and Facebook for updates and new posts.

Android 4.4 KitKat release date, news and rumors

Having long expected version 5.0 of Android to be given the code name Key Lime Pie, Google instead handed the 'K' release name to Android 4.4 and in a weird cross-promotional deal it called it Android KitKat.
As part of the deal Nestle is running a contest to win aNexus 7 or Google Play credit through specially branded Kit Kat bars.
So, apart from the fact that the chocolate bar has a space between Kit and Kat and Android 4.4 doesn't. what do we know about KitKat so far?

Android 4.4 release date

Android 4.3 recently arrived on the Nexus 7, Nexus 7 2012, Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Samsung Galaxy Nexus but is yet to roll out to other devices. It'll also be arriving 'soon' on the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Google versions, with HTC saying it expects to push it out to developers by the end of September.
So now we can start to look forward to the Android 4.4 KitKat release date. But when? We'll take a guess at late October or early November 2013 for now - which is when we were previously expecting to see Android 5.0 break cover.
Cut to the chase
What is it? A minor upgrade for Android, to follow on from Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
When is it out? The rumors say October 18, 28 or 31
What will it cost? Nothing, it'll be a free upgrade
On September 20 Nestle Germany confirmed an October launch for Android KitKat on its German KitKat Facebook wall, replying to a question with a translated message which reads: "Hi Tim, Android 4.4 KIT KAT is available in October".
A release date earlier tipped to Ausdroid which turned out to be incorrect was October 14, as was October 15 which was a date supposedlyoverheard at Google's October Launchpad developer event.
Writing on his Google+ page on 3 October, Artem Russakovskii of Android Police said that the Android 4.4 release date is actually October 31, a date that was set some time in early September.
"Dates do change, and my information is about a month old, so if KitKat or the Nexus are delayed, Google may not hit the October 31 date," wrote Russakovskii. "I really don't see them finishing everything early, so I wouldn't bet on anything earlier than that date."
Russakovskii added that this date fits with a rumoured October 14 TA (Technical Acceptance) date for the next Nexus, which had been earlier misinterpreted by the media as the release date.
Update: Google seems to be playing a bit of a game with us now after posting a couple of teasing statues on its official Google+ KitKat page which the world has taken to be a series of cryptic clues. Are they right? We'll let you decide.
Our video below rounds up what we know so far.

Android 4.4 features

Android 4.3 came with a few minor upgrades including better multi-user customisation, support for Bluetooth smart technology and an updated keyboard. As a minor release, Android 4.3 didn't even get its own desert-themed name, sharing the Jelly Bean moniker with Android 4.1 and 4.2.
So with a brand new code name, we can expect Android 4.4 to bring some bigger changes, but all Google is saying at this stage is: "It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody."
From this, we can assume that Google wants to get Android onto less powerful devices, something we were previously hearing about Android 5.0 when it was claimed that the new OS would be optimised to run on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM.
We also learned from Android Central back in February 2013 that Google is working with the Linux 3.8 kernel. One improvement that this kernel brings is lowered RAM usage, which fits with Google's goal of bringing Android to more devices.
The source who tipped Ausdroid with the October 14 release date also leaked some supposed details of the new OS, confirming that it would be available for "older phones", adding that it would also bring gallery visualization tweaks, new animation APIs, new notification widgets and the ability to change the Android default blue to other colors.
Leaked screenshots sent to 9to5Google, as well as other sites, show what might be a sneak peak at the Android 4.4 phone and messaging apps. The screenshots show a cleaner design and a lighter colour, plus a status bar that changes colour according to the colour scheme selected.

Android KitKat
Are these KitKat's phone and messaging apps? [Image credit: 9to5Google]

However, Android Police appears to have received the same screenshots, and having taken a close look at them, it reckons that they're actually either full-screen mockups or a custom ROM.
An image that Android Police is more positive about is one of a Korean keyboard that was posted to Google Play. In a small change, that shot shows that the status bar icons have changed from blue to gray. Thoseimages on Google Play have since been replaced with Jelly Bean screenshots.
screenshot unearthed by Myce suggests that Android 4.4 may indeed come with themes as the icons in the notification area for the image that the site found on the Chromium bug tracker (shown below) are blue. Myce adds: "we found references to theming in the log file but are unsure if it will really become a feature." Android Community reckons the screenshot was taken on a Nexus 4 running KitKat.

Android KitKat themes
Does the change in icon colors signal Android themes ahead?

Another set of snaps claiming to show Android 4.4 running on a Nexus 4 reveal that the KitKat update could sport a re-designed settings menu complete with a print function, plus new photo editing tools in the gallery.

Android 4.4 KitKat
How would you like your print? [Image credit: Android Authority]

On October 4, Android Police's Artem Russakovskii floated the rumorthat Hangouts in Android 4.4 will take care of sending and receiving text messages.
"In fact, the Messaging app is gone and is fully replaced by Hangouts, at least on the Nexus device that was being tested. It should be able to handle MMS as well," he wrote.
That rumor was upgraded to a likelihood of "9 out of 10," by Android Police on October 8, which also posted some screenshots to support the rumor. Android Police reckons that video sharing will be integrated with Hangouts as well.

SMS in Google Hangouts
SMS in Google Hangouts [Image credit: Android Police]

Talking of Messaging, Google confirmed on its Android Developers Blog that KitKat will enable people to choose their default app for sending and receiving SMS messages. This suggests that the Messaging app may not vanish, and you'll be able to choose Messaging, Hangouts or a third-party app to handle your messages.
Android Police also reckons that location settings will be getting a refresh, with new Location Mode checkboxes enabling you to choose which methods apps on your handset can use to determine your location (GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile, Wi-Fi and mobile only, GPS only). Apparently, you'll also be able to see which apps have recently made a location request.
As the KitKat release date approaches, it seems the leaks keep on coming. On October 11, a series of screenshots of what is supposedly Android 4.4 running on a Nexus 5 turned up on Italian site Tutto Android. The shots show a less cluttered, flatter interface, with Google Now being given more prominence.
One of the shots posted on Tutto Android also shows a new option under Settings called 'Tap & Pay', suggesting that Google Wallet may be more integrated into Android 4.4.
We also learned on October 14 that Android 4.4 may bring an 'always listening' feature. A leaked build of KitKat running on a Nexus 5 apparently responded to "OK Google" and "OK Google Now" from the home screen.
Find out what other changes we expect to see in Android 4.4 in the video below.

Android 4.4 phones

In a commercial for its new operating system, Google revealed what seems to be the long-awaited Nexus 5.

Android KitKat
Is this the first Android KitKat handset?

Shown off in a 38 second advert, the new Nexus handset looks to be equipped with a large camera and a matte black finish, carrying an LG logo on the back.
Google has since taken the video down, leading to further speculation that it did indeed reveal the Nexus 5.
An Android 4.4 powered Nexus 5 supposedly raised its head again on 16 September where it was seen flaunting its stuff in a bar. 9to5Google posted photos and video of what might be the new Nexus, apparently left there plugged in and unsupervised by a Google employee so that an eagle-eyed bar worker was able to snap some photos and shoot a video.
In Samsung's camp, Android 4.4 will be coming to the Galaxy S4 Mini and the Samsung Galaxy Mega, if supposed internal Samsung documentsobtained by Sam Mobile are genuine. If those handsets are getting the update, it's a no-brainer to assume that KitKat will also be landing on theGalaxy S4, the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy S4 Active, the Galaxy S4 Zoom and the recently announced Samsung Galaxy Round.

Android 4.4 tablets

On October 14, Android 4.4 was spotted running on a new Nexus 7,according to leaked photos posted by ZDNet. Changes include round icons for apps including Google Search, Google Settings and Voice Search, while Quickoffice may become a default app now that it's free to use.

An Android 4.4 watch?

Android Police's Artem Russakovskii reckons we'll see a Google Watch - possibly called the Google Gem - announced on October 31, and that the watch will be running Android 4.4. It's been rumored for some time that Google is working on a smartwatch, and if Android 4.4 is indeed optimized for low-powered devices then it could be the perfect OS for it.

Android KitKat may launch on October 28

In case you haven’t noticed, Kit Kat has been going a bit crazy on Google+. Yesterday, the company posted a photo of a dancing Android-shaped Kit Kat bar on the day that some (definitely not all) thought Google would announce Kit Kat and the Nexus 5. That didn’t happen, and Kit Kat is still posting as many cryptic messages on Google+ as they can.
Kit Kat this is it
This time, it was a picture of Kit Kat bars arranged to spell out “This is it.” And, quite literally, that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. There was no #Android, no Android mascot, or anything else to help rabid fanatics everywhere figure out what this meant. That said, we were still curious to hear your thoughts, and posed the question to you on Google+. The responses? Nothing short of hilariously ridiculous.
One reader, Richard Colon, was the first to suggest Kit Kat was referring to Michael Jackson’s “This is It,” a 2009 documentary that launched on October 28th. This is where the October 28th train got rolling.
Reading further, the silliness really started when user Liam Muller jokingly suggested the following:
If you also look, it takes 16 wafers to make “THIS IS IT” and today is the 16th of October so today might be the day :)
So now we have the 16th and the 28th, but Ed Carter suggests we’re all thinking about it wrong: Michael Jackson’s “This is It” tour eventually got cancelled, which could mean Android 4.4 Kit Kat or the Nexus 5 got cancelled. I know. Just bear with me.
Richard chimed back in a bit later to remind us that yesterdays “Everybody Dance Now” teaser shares the name of the hit song by 28th Street Crew, which he believes lends more credence to seeing Kit Kat and/or Nexus 5 on the 28th.
Android KitKat dancing Google Plus
Finally, Haaris Edhi decided to drop their 2 cents and let us know that there are “8 letters in “this is it” and 2 sentences, meaning October 28.” We’ve all obviously gone off the deep end here, and perhaps that’s what makes this entire thing genius by Kit Kat and Google.
They know how crazy we get over this stuff. They know that one image alone is enough to send the hype meter through the roof, and they know they have us right where they want us — salivating for Android 4.4 Kit Kat just as much as most chocolate lovers salivate for an actual Kit Kat bar.

Android 4.4 KitKat May Be Dominated By The 'Google Experience

The stated goal of the next version of Google’s Android operating system—4.4 “KitKat”—is “to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody.”
What does that mean? It is odd and cryptic … and the only thing we officially know about what Google is going to do with KitKat. If we piece together some of the rumors swirling around what Android 4.4 will entail and combine it with what we know about how Google has been updating Android and its pertinent features over the last year, we get a pretty good idea. 
It leads us to a new Android experience. What some people are calling “the Google Experience.”

Waiting For The Big Android Update

Android 4.4 KitKat is expected to be announced by the end of October. The hype cycle is beginning to hit full tilt as stream of leaks and rumors illuminate what Google will unveil the next version of Android and the flagship smartphone that will accompany it, the Nexus 5.
KitKat will be the first new named version of Android in more than a year since Jelly Bean 4.1 was introduced at Google’s I/O developer conference in the spring of 2012. Google has offered up two updates to Android since then—versions 4.2 and 4.3—that have both been rolled up in the Jelly Bean moniker. Now that Google is almost ready to unveil the “K” desert version of Android (Google normally names each new version of the operating system after sweet treats in alphabetical order), users, developers, manufacturers and consumers are expecting a lot.
The last two versions of Jelly Bean haven’t given us a ton to be excited about. The biggest feature in version 4.3 was the integration of Bluetooth Low Energy to the Android hardware specification along with OpenGL for Embedded Systems. These are good updates for app developers out there but leave much to be desired for users that are looking for a fresh coat of paint and improved user experience. 

The Google Experience

In that vein, the rumor mill points towards a major feature that will change some of the fundamental usability of Android: the “Google Experience.” 
Source: Android PoliceSource: Android Police
The Google Experience Launcher is rumored to be a hub launcher for Google apps and widgets on Android devices. Google Experience will be a form of launcher within Android that will not be tied specifically to version 4.4 KitKat but will rather be an app through the Google Play app store that will be compatible with devices running Android back to version 2.2 Froyo. 
A launcher is also known in general terms as a “skin” but the terms are not mutually exclusive. The Google Experience Launcher is rumored by the blog Android Police to be a widget that live on the Android homescreen in which Google features like Search and Google Now are heavily integrated, can read the data within the widget and update itself. A launcher would also control aspects such as app folders and homescreens (which are rumored to be infinite instead of limited to five as they are in current builds of Android).
What would Google Experience mean for Android users? Speculation is that KitKat 4.4 will enable support for lower-end Android devices. Google Experience would likely be the vehicle for that. 
If you have been following the evolution of Android as an operating system, you will note that the Google has made some pretty significant changes to how Android works on a smartphone. In the past, Google used to tie almost all of the functionality of its own apps to the Android kernel. That meant developers and consumers would need a certain version of Android to get new features. Wanted the latest update to the Google Play app store (formerly Android Market)? You needed to update your Android software. How about the latest APIs and user interface in Google Maps and Navigation? Update Android. Gmail, Calendar, Talk (now Hangouts) or any other Google service? It was tied to the Android kernel.
Google changed all of that with the release of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, decoupling its own apps from the Android operating system. Instead of being tied to Android, features and APIs like Maps either stand alone as their own apps that live in the Google Play store and/or are tied to what is called Google Play Services.

Google Experience As A Front-End Extension Of Google Play Services

Google Play Services is what is known in the computing world as a “shim.” Here is the definition of a shim, from Wikipedia:
In computer programming, a shim (from shim) or shiv is a small library that transparently intercepts an API and changes the parameters passed, handles the operation itself, or redirects the operation elsewhere. Shims typically come about when the behavior of an API changes, thereby causing compatibility issues for older applications which still rely on the older functionality. In such cases, the older API can still be supported by a thin compatibility layer on top of the newer code. Web polyfills are a related concept. Shims can also be used for running programs on different software platforms than they were developed for.
In Android, Google Play Services is a stand-alone app that runs in the background. It updates itself with functionality directly from Google without the user doing anything. It downloads its own code and enacts its own functionality. For example, if there is an update to the Google Play Store or Maps, it is downloaded and implemented through Google Play Services. 
If the Google Experience is really going to be a primary feature in KitKat 4.4, as the rumors say it will, then what Google is doing is giving Google Play Services a front-end user interface for Android devices. 
By extension, the Google Experience can be transported back to older versions of Android. If we look at the definition of a shim in that, “the older API can still be supported by a thin compatibility layer on top of the new code” then it is possible for Google to bring just about all of the Android features and functionality that are not explicitly tied to hardware back to any phone running a previous version of Android. 

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