Android 4.4 KitKat release date, news and rumors

Well, this is a surprise. Having long expected version 5.0 of Android to be given the code name Key Lime Pie, Google has instead handed the 'K' release name to Android 4.4 and in a weird cross-promotional deal it's called it Android KitKat.
As part of the deal Nestle is running a contest to win a Nexus 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.
A release date tipped to Ausdroid - and one which the site says it's taking with a large grain of salt - is October 14.
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".

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.

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. Those images on Google Play have since been replaced with Jelly Bean screenshots.

A 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.