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Nexus 7 (2013) Android 4.4 KitKat First Impressions



Google started updating the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets this week with Android 4.4 KitKat. I found a way to get it manually.

Now that I’ve seen Android 4.4 KitKat on Google Nexus 7 2013 edition, I wanted to share a few first impressions with readers. Here’s what I see after only a day’s usage including the pros and cons of the new version of Android.

No OK Google

The one thing that I hoped to see more than any other feature in KitKat was the OK Google feature that lets users say the phrase “OK Google” and then interact with Android like one would Siri on iOS. KitKat listens for the user to say this and then lets the user do voice searches and commands.

Google introduced OK Google on the Moto X and added it to the Nexus 5 when Google released the phone last month.

OK Google uses a special processor on the Moto X which listens for the command all the time and doesn’t use the main processor, saving battery life on the phone. Google added it to the Nexus 5, but only from the home screen, so they could have put it on the newest Nexus 7 and allow it to work like the Nexus 5, but chose not to for some reason. Let’s hope they fix this omission before shipping a new Nexus 7 next year.

Nexus 7 2 - New Nexus 7


Google boasts better performance with this update. They say multitasking will work smoothly and quickly, which it seemed to do before. Any bumps in performance might seem negligible to users, but we noticed a few things that worked better.

The Nexus 7 running KitKat offers better touch screen performance. Before the update, touching the screen and getting it to respond felt like a hit or miss thing. Sometimes it worked great and other times it seemed too sensitive, making it hard to tap and drag icons or things like the cropping handles in the Gallery photo editor. KitKat fixed those problems.

Video seems to start faster. The Netflix app loads quickly and plays smoothly. Sound works well while performing other tasks. The few games we tried worked fine, but not necessarily better than before.

The Little Details

The little things Google added make this a potentially interesting update for some. Emoji icons come built into the keyboard. That’s not a feature some will use much, but others enjoy Emoji icons.

Google added Google Cloud Print support. Since many tablet users never print these days, that might not wow them as much as other new features.

QuickOffice, the office suite for Android that Google bought recently, now gets tighter integration with Google Drive, a feature that will get a lot of use. KitKat comes with QuickOffice already installed with all the other Google apps. This might seem like bloatware to some, but QuickOffice always offered a great mobile office experience, so users should give it a long look after this update.

nexus 7 music on lock screen kitkat

Speaking of Google Apps, the music app will now place album artwork on the lock screen as seen above. The Google Play Books, Magazines and Movies all play full-screen, as seen below. To see the status bar at the top, pull down from the top edge. We like this as it gives us more screen to see the content. The music app lets us interact with the music playing without unlocking the device.

google play apps full screen mode in kitkat

The update offers more than we’ve covered, but these are the highlights. We like the update and think Google took a step in the right direction.



  1. dennisvjames

    11/17/2013 at 10:37 am

    would appreciate it if Google would allow more Bluetooth keyboards. My Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 works great with my Apple Bluetooth keyboard. My Nexus 7 (second gen) does not recognize it. Bummer and very short-sighted. Looking forward to testing KitKat to see if that has been changed.

  2. stafford5

    11/17/2013 at 12:21 pm

    my friend’s aunt makes $66 hourly on the laptop. She has been fired for 8 months but last month her payment was $17617 just working on the laptop for a few hours. look at these guys……..

  3. Nathan Wolfboy

    11/17/2013 at 2:05 pm

    Just change Google Now language to US English for ‘OK Google…’

    I searched Google and it told me how to do it. :-|

  4. DanEllis

    11/18/2013 at 7:49 am

    If you install the Google Experience Launcher (there are many threads with instructions), you will get the “OK Google” functionality from the home screen, as well as the Google Now access by swiping the home screen to the right. Also, I didn’t notice a big performance gain on my N4 when I installed the KitKat update until I switched from Dalvik to ART. (Settings –> Developer Options –> Select Runtime) This definitely made a difference in how fast apps launch / load.

  5. sarah

    11/18/2013 at 11:14 am

    I was searching around to buy a google Nexus tablet but i was seeing a massive fluctuation in price across the internet. In the end I purchased one from here (Ebay) was a great buy. The tablet is quick and, so far, reliable. Would recommend to anyone if purchasing at the same price I did.

  6. Aneef Izhar

    11/18/2013 at 6:24 pm

    Battery life in KitKat 4.4 is awful. With Jelly beans, my Nexus 7 2013 in idle mode lost only 4-5% of charge over the night, with Kitkat it loses around 20%. WTH!

  7. hoang lam

    11/19/2013 at 3:48 am

    i have the same fking problem with my nexus 2012 3g

  8. jordan

    11/20/2013 at 11:04 am

    you guys know where to find a bunch of nexus 7 with kitkat reviews? I’m now on ios and am considering a nexus, but its hard to find many thorough reviews of it with the android update, surprisingly. want to know if it is smoother now and less buggy. Would love some direction. thanks.

  9. David T

    11/21/2013 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve noticed a slight increase in my battery life. Being able to bring up the status bar thing at the top of the screen in apps that don’t have it there by default is a nice touch also. I just wish the added support for Ok, Google.

    Changing the language to US English is the work around for UK users using the Nexus 5. It’s completely missing from the Nexus 7 unless you install some of the nexus 5 .apk files…

  10. Charly

    11/22/2013 at 8:37 am

    Contrary to what the article says, the touch screen performance is now awful on my Nexus 7 (after KitKat update). The touch events are sometimes –very often– misplaced: I want to touch an icon on the home screen, another one is touched; I want to scroll up or down in the Settings, an item is selected; just now, I tried three times to turn off the device, impossible to touch the “Power off” button. I’m very disappointed.

    I never had any of these problems with the previous version of the system (4.3). This update really killed the Nexus 7 for me as it’s now totally unusable. That’s a good thing I only use it in a development environment (to test drive my own apps) and not as my personal device; for that, I’ll stick with my iPad =)

    • Benedict Paul

      11/29/2013 at 2:01 pm

      Same thing here, i never experience any issues on 4.3. But after i update 4.4 i thought i screwed up with my nexus 7 multitouch! This update makes me sad since i use it for games always.

      • Charly

        12/01/2013 at 10:30 am

        Strangely enough, my Nexus 7 seems to be back to normal! I turned the device off after I wrote my comment here and I forgot about it since, as I said previously, I only use it for dev. purpose. Then, when I turned it back a few days ago, I had no touch problem and everything was as smooth as it was before the KitKat update.

        I have no logical explanation, but I’m pretty happy about it =) Maybe this will happen to you too?

  11. paul

    11/27/2013 at 2:33 am

    my wifi and battery symbol at top of nex7 used to turn blue but now do not?

  12. dennisvjames

    11/27/2013 at 3:56 pm

    I have a little better battery. No problems with touch. It might be a little less “touchy” but the Nexus 7 had a little ichy trigger finger before so that’s ok. The challenge I had was with the calendar. It was not syncing and it looked as it there were multiple versions of my hotmail account in settings. I went in and found the Hotmail I wanted and noticed that the syncing check boxes were unchecked. I check them again and the calendar started syncing properly. Just letting you know.

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