Android 4.4.3 brings some Gmail flair to Dialer and People apps

June 3, 2014
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android 4.4.3 dialer

Factory images and binaries of Android 4.4.3 are now on Google’s servers, and the first OTAs are hitting Nexus 7 (2013) units, but what exactly does the change from 4.4.2 to 4.4.3 bring users?

The changelog is just the obligatory bug fixes and performance improvements, but it looks that Google took advantage of the opportunity to refresh the Dialer and People apps as well, bringing them in line with the design of the Gmail app.

Starting with Dialer, Google changed the way it displays the thumbnails of recent contacts – instead of the three most recent contacts at the top followed by a list of other contacts, Dialer now shows the last call at the top, followed by a Speed Dial interface made of two larger card columns, showing the name of the contacts and – in case they had one – their thumbnail picture.

dialer screen

If the contact doesn’t have a picture attached, the card shows the initial of the contact name on a colored background, just like on Gmail. Along with the new bottom bar, which went from gray to blue, the change makes the dialer app a little more lively and colorful.

You can drag and drop the cards to rearrange them in the Speed Dial, and the All Contacts button is now on top, so you no longer have to scroll down to reach it. It’s a nice little change, though the button is still not as prominent as we think it should be.

Clicking on the history button in the bottom action bar, shows the list of recent calls, like before, but now the header is blue, instead of grey and the clock icon on the right now lets you drill down in the calls list. Before, there was a phone icon on the right, which let you call the contact; now clicking on the contact itself does that.

The dialer itself is cleaner and features a white background, instead of the dark theme from before.

dialer screen 2

Overall, the functionality changes are rather small, and this update just brings the Dialer’s UI in line with Gmail. We expect that similar styling (specifically the colored letter thumbnails) will hit Hangouts in the close future as well.

Google also brought the Gmail-style cards to its People app, but apparently made no other visible changes.

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