Google Unveils Nexus 5 Phone with Kit Kat

Google is selling a new Android smartphone that it hopes will become more like a clairvoyant friend than a piece of hardware.

The Nexus 5 phone unveiled Thursday is the first device to run on Kit Kat, the latest version of Google's Android operating system.

As with previous Nexus phones, the latest will be sold only at full retail price, without subsidies that come with two-year contract agreements. It [went] on sale Thursday in Google's online Play store starting at $349, undercutting many rival phones at contract-free prices. The phone will work on most U.S. wireless networks, but not Verizon's. A Nexus 5 model also is available for European markets.

The Nexus 5 and Kit Kat software underscore Google's ambition to ingrain its search engine and virtual assistant, Google Now, even deeper into people's lives. In the process, Google Inc. hopes to gather more insights that will enable it to sell more advertising, which generates most of its revenue.

It'll be easier for Google to learn about a person's habits and needs so it can display helpful information, such as an online post from a favorite blog or a suggestion to use Fandango's movie-ticketing service when standing in a long line at a movie theater.

When visiting a tourist attraction such as Yellowstone National Park, Google Now might automatically show information about geysers from the Web.

"We want to get to the point where you glance at your phone and it always delights you with what you need," said Sundar Pichai, a Google executive who oversees Android.

The new phone's $349 price threatens to lure more cost-conscious consumers away from Apple Inc.'s iPhone, which retails for $649 for the 5S and $549 for the 5C when sold without a traditional two-year service agreement.

In an unusual twist for a software...

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