Friday 1 November 2013

Android 4.4 KitKat: Top ten features for developers

Unless you were living in a cave, you would have heard that Google unveiled Android 4.4 aka KitKat on Thursday. As you can expect, this new version of Android brings several new features and improvements over Jelly Bean and these are not just for consumers but also for developers.

In this article, we will be talking about some of the best features of Android 4.4, which will help Android developers in building great new apps. So, what are these?

  • New Full-screen immersive mode: Now your apps can use every pixel on the device screen to showcase your content and capture touch events. Immersive mode hides all system UI such as the status bar and navigation bar.
  • Transition framework: To make it easier to create high-quality animations in your app, Android 4.4 introduces a new transitions framework. The transitions framework lets you define scenes, typically view hierarchies, and transitions, which describe how to animate or transform the scenes when the user enters or exits them.
  • Chromium Webview: KitKat includes a completely new implementation of WebView that’s based on Chromium. The new Chromium WebView gives you the latest in standards support, performance, and compatibility to build and display your web-based content.
  • Printing framework: Android 4.4 introduces native platform support for printing, along with APIs for managing printing and adding new types of printer support. Now, your Android apps can print any type of content over Wi-Fi or cloud-hosted services such as Google Cloud Print.
  • Low-power sensors: Android now includes support for hardware sensor batching, a new optimization that can dramatically reduce power consumed by ongoing sensor activities. Sensor batching is ideal for low-power, long-running use-cases such as fitness, location tracking, monitoring, and more. It can makes your app more efficient and it lets you track sensor events continuously.
  • New screen-recorder: A screen recording utility that lets you capture video as you use the device and store it as an MP4 file. It’s a great new way to create walkthroughs and tutorials for your app, testing materials, marketing videos, and much more.
  • RenderScript in NDK: A new C++ API in the Android Native Development Kit (NDK) lets you use RenderScript from your native code, with access to script intrinsics, custom kernels, and more.
  • Improved accessibility support: Android 4.4 now supports a better accessibility experience across apps by adding system-wide preferences for Closed Captioning. Apps that use video can now access the user’s captioning settings and adjust presentation to meet the user’s preferences.
  • Storage access framework: It makes it simple for users to browse and open documents, images, and other files across all of their their preferred document storage providers.
  • New connectivity options: Support for two new Bluetooth profiles – Bluetooth HID over GATT (HOGP) and Bluetooth MAP. Android 4.4 also introduces platform support for built-in IR blasters, along with a new API and system service that let you create apps to take advantage them. In addition, KitKat includes a seamless way to stream media and other data faster between devices already on the same Wi-Fi network by supporting Wi-Fi Tunneled Direct Link Setup (TDLS).


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