Android has since passed the 1 billion device activation mark and continues to soar with recent figures placing its marketshare at a pleasant 81%. That 81% of all smartphones in the world run Android. Of all those, many are mid range and low end Android devices. These have so far had a pretty awful Android experience. It’s not been so pleasant. Though Android Jelly Bean tried to speed up things with Project Butter, that only worked for the high end devices with beefier specs. The low end devices with their 512 MB RAM or lower remained condemned. Not anymore. The newest version of Android, 4.4 KitKat, changes all that.
Google is interested in accommodating everyone. They are out to do this by making so many changes to better the under the hood performance of Android.
With KitKat, we’ve slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.
There are many more additions and updates to Android that make KitKat a significant update. These are:
- Changes to core apps like the Phone app to make calling even more easier by enhancing contacts search; a new Hangouts app that integrates all the recently announced changes at the A Morning with Google+ event like SMS, MMS and your usual Hangouts messages integration
- A new Nexus launcher. I’m not sure whether this will be available universally to all Android phones that get the update (stock) or it is a preserve of the Nexus devices. Maybe Nexus is just a name here and this is the new Android stock launcher that had been previously rumoured.
- An improved Google Now and Google search app that is contextually aware and always on to respond to user’s voice commands
- Google Now will also be getting new card types in coming days to “bring you information about contextual topics that interest you such as updates from a favorite website or blog.”
- Immersive mode – true full screen mode for apps for when you’re reading a book, watching a movie or playing a game to give you a full “immersed” experience.
- A smarter caller ID. Think of it like Google’s own Truecaller only that here Google will look for local businesses listed on Google Maps to try and ascertain who is calling you in the event its a non contact.
Android 4.4 KitKat is available with the new Nexus 5 and is coming almost immediately as an update to the current line up of Nexus devices i.e the Nexus 4, the Nexus 7 tablet (2012 and 2013 models) and the Nexus 10 tablet. Google Play Edition devices like the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One will be getting the update over coming weeks. For the rest of us with non-Nexus devices, the long wait begins. It could be some time in 2014 before the first non-Google Play edition and non-Nexus devices get this update.
It is interesting to note that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has been dropped from the Nexus update schedule. Google points out that the device is now outside the 18 month update window.