Galaxy S4 KitKat update: top 12 new features and improvements

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galaxy_s4_kitkat_updateFinally, Samsung Galaxy S4 KitKat update is available for more and more carriers.  Now, let’s explore the top 12 new features and improvements in this Galaxy S4 KitKat update (4.4.2).

Because the system update need approval from individual carriers, you may wait a bit longer time than the others depending on the carrier, model, and region.

Galaxy S4 KitKat update: Samsung did it right this time

The Galaxy S4 KitKat update  is more or less incremental in the user interface. Most users will just feel slightly new interface after getting this Galaxy S4 KitKat update.

This Galaxy S4 KitKat (4.4.2) update is far better than the S4 Jelly Bean 4.3 update, which is probably the worst Android update. As detailed in this post, there were so many problems in the S4 Jelly Bean 4.3 update.

So far, after trying the Galaxy S4 KitKat update, I’m quite happy with it.

1. Full screen music player on lock screen

The Samsung Galaxy S4 KitKat update brings the full-screen music player control to the lock screen. You can control your music player in the lock screen without unlocking the your Galaxy S4.

The good news is full screen music player on lock screen works for most music players, not just the stock Samsung music player or just Google Play music. Amazon MP3 player works  as well.

2. Quick access to camera  from lock screen

After getting the Galaxy S4 KitKat update, you will find the camera app shortcut in the lock screen. Essentially, you can snap pictures quicker.

This is a small, but very useful feature.

3. Change home screen easily

In Android KitKat 4.4, Google makes it easier to change launchers (of course, your home screen). Samsung did not crop this feature in this Galaxy S4 KitKat update.

Now after updating your Samsung Galaxy S4 to KitKat, you can easily change the home screen under Settings (Settings–General–Default–Applications-Home).

By default, you can choose TouchWiz home or TouchWiz home easy because only TouchWiz launcher is pre-installed.

Of course, you will have more options if you install any other third-party launchers..

4. Transparent notification bar

Galaxy S4 KitKat officially comes with a transparent notification bar. This means the notification  bar now works with all wallpapers.

One minor difference you may notice is that the green battery level indicator now is white.

5.  Reset the default applications easily

After installing more and more apps, some operations can be performed by several apps, for example, opening  a webpage can be done in Chrome or the stock Internet app.  So, you have to setup a default app for such operations. Otherwise, you have to choose the app every time.

Sometimes, you may want to change the default app to other one. In Galaxy S4 KitKat update, resetting the default app is easy. In the task manager widget, you can quickly check and reset the default app. It is not necessary to go to Application Manager.

6. Hangouts as an unified messaging app

The new Hangouts app in Galaxy S4 KitKat update keeps all your messages, conversations and video calls together in the same place so you’ll never miss a message no matter how your friend sends it. So, the new Hangouts is a replacement for the messaging app.

One advantage of the Hangouts over Messaging is that you can share your location and send animated GIFs very easily.

If you feel uncomfortable with the Hangouts and want to switch back to Messaging, it is also painless: just go to Settings–General–Default applications.

7. Real full-screen mode

With KitKat update,   Galaxy S4 can automatically hide everything except what you really want to see (book, movie, game..). Just swipe the edge of the screen to bring back your status bar and navigation buttons.

Of course, this feature works on selected apps, not all apps. It seems this feature works better in Nexus (stock) Android.

8. Native support of emojis

Samsung started their own support for emoji since Jelly Bean 4.2. You can find them in Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 even before the KitKat update. Such emojis works with Samsung own devices and iPhones (black and white only).

Android finally brought native support of emoji in Android 4.4 (KitKat). Most of the stock emojis are quite nice.   In Galaxy S4 KitKat update, Samsung added a few more emojis.

So, now you can enjoy emojis in more apps, and with more friends.

9. Faster Multitasking

After getting the Galaxy S4 KitKat update, you will find that switching from app to app is easier than  ever.  Your Galaxy S4 is more responsive. This is due to code and memory optimization in Android KitKat 4.4.

Anyway, my experience with this KitKat update is far, far better than that of Jelly Bean 4.3 update.

10.  Report of location requests

In Galaxy S4 KitKat update, Samsung adds an integrated location menu which enables users to easily activate GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile networks, while simultaneously checking the battery usage of apps running location service capabilities.

You can also choose location method as high accuracy (use GPS+WiFi+Mobile  network), power saving (use WiFi+ mobile network), or GPS only.

You can access the location menu at: Settings–Connections–Location.

11. Wireless printing is not limited to Samsung printers

Wireless printing from your Galaxy S4 is not new. Galaxy S4 supports wireless printing out of box in most regions. But before the KitKat update, only Samsung printers are supported.

Galaxy S4 KitKat update extends the wireless printing support to other brands of printer as well.

You can access the wireless printing settings at: Settings–Connections–More network–Printing.

12. Updated Google  apps

Upgraded Google Mobile Service apps can be found in this Galaxy S4 KitKat update.  You can automatically back up photos and video to Google+.  You can open, view, rename and share Google Docs and files as if they are just local files.

What do you think about this Galaxy S4 KitKat update?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.

Comments

  1. Greeting
    Greetings Simon…
    My name is Mduduzi from South Africa, I’m the owner of Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-i9295 without Andriod, Kies for PC connection is not working, and the Google Play Store is acting strange. How to install Andriod and Google play store in my smartphone. I hope you will provide some attention to my request for assistance, thanks

    Regards
    Mduduzi Mkhwanazi (Mr)

  2. I still can’t find the emojis.. all I have is the regualr android emojis.. I keep searching for how to enable it but all I have found so far is app downloads which I don’t want.. please help. Thanks

  3. That is all I am using and I still do not see it?? What emoji’s are included? are they only the android ones?

  4. Love the update but I keep getting the annoying “Internet connection unstable” message . It’s not as intrusive as the security update was but it is annoying. Is there a a solution? Is it actually doing anything? I haven’t noticed anything.

    • You can try: settings- connections – wifi – tap menu button – advanced – uncheck auto network switch.

      • Simon thanks for the reply. Yeah I had already checked that it was unchecked. I haven’t had the problems that others have had except for battery drain, so it’s not that big of a deal. It happens on every wifi system I’m on but I never really drop the connection. It may effect Pandora sometimes but not everytime. Again the worst part is just having to see the message.

  5. divya bhatia says:

    Hello frm india.updated to kit kat and I noticed there are no settings options on my s4 i9500 its just gone.how do I fix it?

    • Can you find it in the app drawer? Or in the home screen, tap the menu key, you should find the settings option.

      Anyway, you can reboot your S4 to see whether it comes back.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Having trouble with using the camera on the lock screen. I press it and it doesn’t work. Any help?

  7. I have the KitKat update for one day now and I am amazed they obviously removed text reflow! This not only has consequences for the browser (one can use a different one) but also for apps using that feature. There is an interesting article on that, unfortunately I have read it too late (http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/01/28/bug-watch-text-reflow-removed-from-webviews-in-kitkat-probably-not-coming-back/). I am wondering if it is possible to return to JellyBean but I think it will not … I can only recommend NOT to update to KitKat if you want to be able to conveniently read text.

    • The official way to go back to JB is to visit local Samsung service center and ask them to flash the system for you.

      This does affect some sites, but not so many. You can install Opera as an alternative browser as suggested.

  8. Jason Coles says:

    I have updated the to Kitkat and I don’t have the camera widget on my lock screen any ideas

    • You can add it at: Settings–Device–Lock screen–shortcuts.

      • It would appear the only way to add it is to have the lock screen set to swipe only. This is not new from reading about the new features I thought the widget was going to be available even if you had pattern to unlock set.

        • This is Samsung’s implementation.

          In stock Android, it is available even you choose other lock screen security. The camera works without unlocking the phone. e.g., Moto G.

          But Samsung chose a very conservative approach.

  9. Google+ Photos still doesn’t allow to create autoawesome videos thru app even after kitkat update on Verizon S4. Shoiuld this be an available feature?

  10. I preferred the black and white android emojis top the now updated coloured emojis. Is there a way I can get the black and white ones on the interface?

    • They are gone. Emoji is part of the keyboard. If you don’t like the emojis, you have to use third-party keyboards which may have different emojis.

  11. Jessica says:

    Why are some of my apps transparent with a small sd card icon? When clicked, it says “application not installed”?!

    • Try to restart your phone.

      The icon indicates the app saved some data on SD card, but it cannot access them now. Usually you need restart the phone to re-scan the SD card.

      If you still get that icon after rebooting, you probably have to check the SD card.

      • Jessica says:

        Still nothing. What should I be checking the SD card for? All apps were working properly before update….

        • Try to shutdown your S4, remove the back cover, remove the battery, remove the SD card, wait 1 or 2 mins, insert SD card, insert battery, put back the back cover. Then power on your S4. After you ge the lock screen, wait a few mins to check again.

          of course, if the SD card is corrupted, you probably will not see it in the storage (under Settings) in your phone.

  12. Anonymous says:

    i am using s4 with kitkat 4.4.2 version and i cant find the “share app” option in menu. how to enable the share app option in the menu.

  13. hello,

    Please help. there is something wrong with the PlayStore on my galaxy s4. for example, there is an app update, when i update it, the percentage in PlayStore showed 10%, but in the notification bar showed already 30~40%, it varies. but this happened on every app that needs update.

    i know this has no harm for me. but it just keeps me wondering. i’ve searched Google for the answer, but haven’t found one.
    Maybe you can help..

    Thanks 🙂

  14. My phone has no ‘end call’ button if the caller is engaged/busy so i have to press the back button which locks the screen. Also when I end a call my screen locks. The network is also only showing 1 bar and calls are getting rejected in and out……all since kit kat.

    Also no lock screen camera and the ‘add icons on locked screen’ in settings is greyed out.

    Device is slower now too.

    Help

    • For such issues, please try to do a factory reset (backup your data first). It is a good practice to perform a factory reset after major updates.

      After factory reset, most of the strange problems should disappear.

      • Anonymous says:

        I took my phone to the O2 shop. They have seen multiple KitKat issues but no two people have the same ‘mix’. We did a factory reset and to be honest it still hasn’t made much difference. As I am using more functionality I am finding more issues.

        I still have WiFi and GPS issues but also since the factory reset I cannot add my own message alert from music (none of the workarounds work) the ‘add’ button is missing. Still can’t get the camera on the lock screen as the option in settings is greyed out.

        The screen is less bight, battery life is worse, the phone hangs when swiping or loading. The screen has become unresponsive on websites (intermittently), no scrolling no tapping…just freezing.

        Given that this is the second handset (1st one the camera didn’t work) and then I had to have a new battery (1st one swelled and had to be replaced) all within 6 months. Now this, so I am not very happy with Samsung.

        Rant over, If anyone can help with any of my issues I’d be grateful

        • If you believe you got these problems only after Kitkat update, you can always ask the guys in the service centee to flush an old version (4.2 or 4.3). 4.3 is not as stable as 4.2.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hey i can’t send emojis since my update. Whenever I try to send one it just continues to say sending until it eventually it say message failed. I also haven’t been able to back up my contacts on the cloud. It always says backup failed or lost connection

    • Occasionally, the message was treated as MMS, and therefore you may get the error if your MMS setting is not correct.

      Anyway, the simple fix is to change the default sms to Hangouts. It should have no issues with emojis.

  16. How does the music lockscreen thing work? I can’t seem to figure it out, tried adding widgets but cant find one for music.

    • it is not necessary to do anything. Play music as normal. Once the phone screen is locked, you will get the widget on the lock screen.

      This is not limited to the music player or Google Play music. It works for almost all music players, podcast players..

  17. Hello! I recently got this update and a little unstatisfied with it. The thing thats been driving me through a wall is the full screen music control. The small widget was SOOO much cleaner and nice. Is there anyway to show the smaller widget instead of full screeen?

  18. Patience says:

    I have a Galaxy S4, I have had the KK update for almost a week, and I hate the new Kit Kat update. 1) My battery life has dropped significantly from 10 hours to 4hours. 2) My network signal is weaker at my house, so my texts out and in are often delayed now. 3) Google playstore is acting very twirky, not showing My Apps or taking a very long time to load. 4) I like to use multiple text applications. I like the stock app for pictures, and I like handcent for SMS. Now you can only use one text messaging application. Kit Kat only allows one application to have permissions to write to SMS files. So I have to choose between using the stock app or Handcent. I can no longer send messages from both. That sucks! 5) I don’t like the way it handles privacy and GPS locations. 6) It no longer offers my backup applications permissions. So I thought my text messages, call logs and such were backed up, and when I went to restore, there were no files because KK restricts permissions. I have only noticed one benefit to KK, and that is the way it handles call waiting and sending a call to vm while on another call. JB hangs up on the existing call , and KK effectively sends the new call to vm without hanging up. I can live without this feature. I am bringing my phone to Best Buy to have JB reinstalled and am leaving Kit Kat behind. I do not like the privacy handling at all.

    • Thank you for sharing you detailed ‘review’ of kitkat on s4.

      For battery life and performances, a factory reset will belly likely solve them.

  19. Anonymous says:

    After a week I am finding more issues since KK. The screens hang, the camera on the lock screen doesn’t work (the option to add it is greyed). I have really bad phone reception usually 1 bar or less and my calls keep dropping. Wifi is possibly the worse issue; it doesn’t link to my home hub without me actively changing it and I can no longer get Wifi where I previously had no problems. I work in London so to have a phone that want pick up phone calls or Wifi is really annoying.

    • You may backup your data, then do a factory reset. If the problem still persists, you can visit local Samsung service centre.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, I have already done a factory reset (at least O2 did) it’s made no difference apart from losing half my apps and resetting to a position where I cannot get back my original settings.

        V annoying. I don’t have time to keep popping into O2 or samsung…it’s be the forth time with this handset since July last year!

        Does anyone know if Samsung will be preparing a fix to these bugs please?

        Thanks everyone for your advice here

        • Samsung may issue further updates. But I don’t think they will put too much efforts on s4.

          If you prefer jelly bean, you can ask them to flush the old firmware for you. Please don’t try jelly bean 4.3.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I prefer the small widget of music player in lockscreen than the huge widget. In previous version, widgets are working in pattern lockscreen. In latest version, battery life improved from 30% to 10% drain at night. It provides good info and improvement on memory. Had trouble on autosave on some apps in SDcard, but so far, apps are trying to do something about it. Still waiting, even just an ultra power saving mode for S4.

  21. How about “S Finder” on the Kitkat update?
    I don’t find the way to access the S Finder anymore. Please help.

  22. Jacques says:

    How do I upgrade to kitkat 4.4.2. I currently have 4.3.

  23. You can check whether the s4 kitkat update is available in your region at: settings – general – about phone – software update. Then tap update.

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