Friday 1 November 2013

Google launches Android 4.4 KitKat, aims for the next billion users

Along with Nexus 5 smartphone, Google has also taken the wraps off Android 4.4 KitKat.  The most polished version of Android till date, KitKat brings host of under the hood changes as well user interface improvements.

Google Nexus 5 is the first device to come pre-loaded with Android 4.4 and KitKat will be reaching Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.

According to Google, Android 4.4 brings improvements to even the most basic apps like Phone, which can now search not just through your contacts but also nearby places and Google Apps accounts.

“Now, we’re making calling easier than ever, by helping you search across your contacts, nearby places, or even Google Apps accounts (like your company’s directory), directly from within the app,” Google noted in a blog post.

One of the most important changes in Android 4.4 is the memory needed in a device to properly run Android. Google has significantly reduced the memory consumption in KitKat and Android can now work properly on devices with just 512MB of RAM.

“Until now, some lower-end Android phones couldn’t benefit from more recent Android releases due to memory constraints. 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,” Google stated.

“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,” Google added.

A quick look at other key Android 4.4 features:

  • “Ok Google”:   Launch voice search by just saying Ok Google, no need to touch your phone, similar to what we have seen on Moto X.
  • Full screen experience: New immersive mode automatically hides everything except what you really want to see. Just swipe the edge of the screen to bring back your status bar and navigation buttons.
  • Faster multitasking: Android 4.4 takes system performance to an all-time high by optimizing memory and improving your touchscreen
  • Emoji now a part of Google keyboard
  • Built-in support for Google Cloud Print
  • Pre-loaded Quickoffice
  • Bluetooth MAP support
  • Chrome web view
  • Closed captioning
  • Device management built-in
  • Downloads app redesign
  • Easy home screen switching
  • Email app refresh
  • Full-screen wallpapers with preview
  • HDR+ photography
  • Support for Infrared blasting
  • Location in Quick Settings
  • Location modes and monitoring
  • Low-power audio playback
  • Music and movie-seeking from lock screen
  • Secure app sandboxes
  • Step counting built-in
  • Tap to pay, built a new way

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