Android KitKat  screenshot

Android KitKat

Introduction

Google recently launched the latest version of Android, KitKat, as sweet as the previous ones. This new edition runs smoothly in both high end and low-end devices, improving the user’s experience in low-end devices. This new version was rumored to be named Key Lime Pie, and most users expected to be an Android 5. However, this is a step to a new Android upcoming style. But in the last minute, Android reached an agreement with Nestle and decided to name it KitKat. The few images available come from pictures of Google Nexus 5, so the performance in non-nexus devices hasn’t been unveiled.

Analysis

This new OS doesn’t offer an impressive amount of new features like in previous versions. Instead of that, it is focused on offering a more optimized Android OS for both low-end and high-end devices. Every year new low-end devices come with older Android versions (Gingerbread, Honeycomb…). This creates a considerable gap between low-end and high-end devices, creating a fragmentation of the Android experience. This has been an important handicap for developers since they have to create their apps for several versions that are outdated. With this new OS entry-level devices with just 512MB RAM you will be able to run Android 4.4 Kitkat. This is a smart decision, since Nokia has been increasing its market presence in low-end devices; Windows Phone offers better performance than old Android versions in these devices. In order to achieve that, Android decided to abandon the Butter project and implement a new API with the Project Svelte. In this new project, the OS footprint is smaller, and from now on, Android won’t launch all the processes in parallel to reduce the peaks of memory usage, they will be launch sequentially, this way, it will run smoother on low-end devices.

Although it retains some remnants of the Holo look introduced in the Ice Cream Sandwich version, it is more minimalistic. This minimal interface sure will help the OS to run smoothly on lower-end handsets. It also includes translucent navigation bar and status bar in the homescreen. Even so, we are willing to see this new Android OS running on new Snapdragon processors.

The homescreen has been redesigned, and in the lockscreen we can see playback controls while we are listening to music. Moreover, the lockscreen will show the album picture from the music played. Also, if you are watching a video from your smartphone in Chromecast, playback controls will appear on the lockscreen. When watching a movie or reading books, they will be showed fullscreen without either the status or the menu bar. Another novelty is that now, we will be able to enjoy emoji icons on our messages. Although this was available in previous versions, this is its official debut.

In this new version, Google Now is highly more accessible since your phone will be always listening and ready for you to say “Ok Google!” With this voice command you will be able to activate this app without tapping your smartphone and it will be always-on. Some users have complained about having the phone continuously listening because of the battery consumption. This idea comes from the voice command used in Google Glass, for this device you just need to say “Ok Glass!” and it will start.

One of the biggest changes is the unification of Google Hangouts with the text messaging app. In this new Android edition, both sms and emails will be unified with the instant messages from Google Hangouts. This app taps your messages into conversations and allows you to include emoji icons and animated GIF’s.

Another interesting feature is the integration of the Google Cloud Print app, which allows you to send files from your mobile to your selected printer remotely. One of the new features that we find more interesting is the new Screen Recording app that will allow users to capture real-time video as they use their smartphone. This is very helpful for developers and vloggers to create videotutorials.

It also includes a new enhanced dialer, if you need the phone number of the closest Starbucks, you just have to start typing “Starbucks” and it will show you several results. This way, it integrates Google Search and Google Maps in your dialer. This is very useful, since it can work in reverse. When a business that you haven't saved as your contact calls you, the phone will display the name of the business. However, this will only work if the company has its phone number listed in Google Maps, but won’t work if someone is calling you from an extension.

In this new OS you will find QuickOffice, a productivity suite, installed by default, which is a very interesting application. This probably comes because all Windows Phone devices already come with an Office application installed and Apple has announced that they are doing the same with iPhone.

Another revamped feature is the NFC connection, which has been simplified and will ease the spread of this new technology. With the new changes that Google has introduced in the NFC compatibility of its devices, they will be compatible with almost all carriers. Despite all these new features, Android KitKat offers the chance to use several apps in the battery-saving mode, such as gps, wi-fi location...

All Android apps that feature web content will use Chromium WebView to show web components in the most accurate way. Chromium supports HTML5 and CSS3. Android KitKat offers several amazing changes, as the revamped dialer, the integration with Google Cloud Print or the fact that it will be suitable for low-end devices. However, our prognostic is that it will consume too much battery life, especially some features like NFC or the “OK Google!” functions for Google Now. And since the battery life continues being a handicap for almost all devices, we think that it’ll be a big disadvantage. We still don’t know when this OS will spread to non-nexus devices, but Samsung, Sony and HTC have already confirmed that their devices will be up-to-date in a few weeks.

Technical aspects

Although Android KitKat will be suitable for lower-end handsets, its hardware requirements might be problematic for some mobiles. Below you will find the requirements for running Android KitKat on your mobile device.

Despite its compatibility with low-end devices, it is also accurate and optimized for high-end devices with snapdragon or quad-core qualcomm processors.

Processor: 32 bits ARMv7 200MHz

RAM Memory: 512MB (1GB recommended)

As far as we know, the compatible on-screen resolution is 1920 x 1080p Full HD, 4.95 5-inch screen

And OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU

Conclusion

This OS is perfect for all Android devices and will update loads of devices with outdated Android versions. This way, almost all Android devices will run the same OS and the gap in the Android’s experience might be significantly reduced. Do you think it will work? Or do you think that Android will release soon a new Android 5 and Kitkat will remain as a transition OS to reduce the gap?