Google announced the release of the latest version of the Android operating system last night, version 4.4 is called KitKat named after Nestle’s chocolate bar. The update brings several performance upgrades as well as some cosmetic changes to the most popular mobile OS in the world.
Google has ensured that bundles Google apps use less memory than previous versions, and the KitKat OS interface will automatically scale back to fit on devices with only 512MB of RAM. Google is aiming for KitKat to be ubiquitous on Android phones released in 2014, regardless of performance. Along with the promised memory management upgrades KitKat there are some interesting cosmetic upgrades as well. Behind the scenes there will be optomisation for developers who use sensors for their applications to reduce the drain on battery life from multiple calls to the hardware.
Google Now is becoming a much more important part of the Android ecosystem much like Siri has become for iOS. Google has updated the Google search application to allow for a spoken keyword to wake up the phone and launch the search app. The search app will also be able to prompt users for further input for instance if you say “Call Stacy” you’ll hear a voice ask you “Which Stacy would you like me to call” (if you know more than one Stacy that is).
A new camera shortcut appears on the lock screen along with the ability to rearrange homescreens. For devices that use on screen navigation buttons there is now the options for developers to hide the buttons giving back more real estate for games and video playback. Messaging has all been integrated into the Google Hangouts application as well as the now popular emoji icons being added into the standard Android keyboard.
While we probably won’t see it becoming available from the local networks, the new LG built Nexus 5 smartphone was launched last night as well. Being the new flagship Android device it runs KitKat on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM and a 5 inch 1080p display. A much improves 8MP camera with the addition of optical image stabilisation promises much better pictures than previous Nexus devices.
Android KitKat will be available on most Nexus devices within the coming weeks and HTC has promised that the HTC One will get the update within the first 90 days.