Google Nexus 5 & Android 4.4 Kit Kat: What they mean for business

Google Nexus 5
Google Nexus 5 makes life easier for business users

When the Nexus 4 was launched in November 2012, it offered the highest display resolution on the market, was the first mainstream handset to offer 2GB of RAM but alienated many potential customers by omitting a micro-SD card slot.

The new Nexus 5 doesn't solve that issue but at least it offers twice the onboard storage and ups the rest of the hardware to match the market's current best-of-breed.

The hardware

It might come as a shock to many but the Nexus 5, despite being a smartphone, packs more firepower than many laptops (and desktops) used in businesses across the country.

While its processor, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, cannot be directly benchmarked against traditional x86 ones, it is deemed powerful enough to keep the Nokia Lumia 2520 going, which gives an indication of is sheer firepower.

There's also a decent amount of onboard system memory, a full HD display and a bevy of connectivity options, all rounding off a system that has a lot of potential, not only as a smartphone but also as a so-called zero client on its own merits, similar to HP's t310.

Having 4G/LTE and 802.11ac actually makes the Nexus 5 more advanced than the majority of laptops on the market. Add in exceptional battery life (8.5 hours on Wi-Fi, 7 hours on LTE), wireless charging and the ability to drive, via SlimPort, an external full HD monitor (with 4K in the pipeline) and you have a business-ready solution.

So you will be able to connect a monitor to it out of the box and use Bluetooth (or even NFC) keyboards and mice. And it will not surprise us if talks of a Foleo-like (or BlackBerry's Redfly) mobile companion emerge in the next few months in the form of a HP Chromebook 11 clone.

The software

Android 4.4 Kitkat

Android 4.4 Kitkat is yummy!

Android 4.4 KitKat is great for the mobile user who wants to remain productive on the move. Google peppered a number of small improvements that, lumped together, make it a worthy update for users who use Android devices for business purposes.

Perhaps the most important one is the newly redesigned Quickoffice application which is bundled by default on KitKat. It allows users to create and edit Microsoft office documents, spreadsheets and presentations and works seamlessly with Google Apps. What's more, Quickoffice supports Google Docs documents natively and stores files on Google Drive and other rival cloud storage services as well.

There's also Google's new voice command feature that doesn't require the user to interact physically with the device, similar to the "OK Google now" feature found on the Moto X. It makes the phone ideal for off-the-cuff, impromptu requests, even within an office environment.

Google engineers have also worked hard on making multitasking work better through a number of smaller improvements (memory optimisation, better touch screen etc), partly driven by Android partners.

Another small tweak is KitKat's ability to search for people and contacts in Google Apps domains and automatically prioritise them based on how often you get in touch with them, not unlike one of the key features of Xobni, which was acquired earlier this year by Yahoo.

The rest of the most notable improvements includes (a) the introduction of Host Card Emulation which should boost NFC-equipped devices by allowing any application to emulate an NFC smart card (b) native support for Wi=Fi or cloud-hosted printing services and (c) better hardware sensor management.

All in all, the changes are incremental both for KitKat and the Nexus 5 but Google has provided once again with the ideal platform to showcase how well a fine-tuned hardware/software solution can deliver the goods.

Most importantly, the combination is now the benchmark against which other flagship smartphones are going to be measured for the next 12 months.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.