Android 4.4 KitKat Targets Google’s Next Billion Users, Adds Pervasive Search & Improves Google Now

Written By Scooter-google on Jumat, 01 November 2013 | 08.58 Today Google announced details of its long-awaited Android 4.4 KitKat operating system for the first time, going beyond just the candy bar branding. KitKat is designed around three major tentpoles, Google told TechCrunch, including reaching the next billion (it previously announced 1 billion activations) Android users, putting so-called Google “smarts” across the entire mobile experience, and building for what comes next in mobile devices.
Google said that Android is growing at three times the speed of developed markets in developing countries; but the phones that are catching on in those markets are mostly running Gingerbread, a version of Android that’s now many versions out of date. These phones, however, have lower specs with only around 512MB of memory available, and Gingerbread is what’s required to fit within those tech requirements.
That presented a technical challenge Google was keen to tackle: How to build KitKat in such a way that it can bring even those older and lower-specced devices up-to-date, to help provide a consistent experience across the entire Android user base. That mean reducing OS resources, and then also modifying Google apps to stay within those boundaries, as well as rethinking how the OS manages available memory to make the most of what is present.
None of this was enough, however, so Google went further to help third-party developers also offer their content to everyone on Android, rather than just those with the top-tier devices. A new API in KitKat allows devs to determine what amount of memory a phone is working with, and serve a different version of the app to each, making it possible for the same application to run on even the earliest Android devices.
“People generally launch new versions of operating systems and they need more memory,” Android chief Sundar Pichai said at a Google event today. “Not with KitKat. We’ve taken it and made it run all the way back on entry level phones. We have one version of the OS that’ll run across all Android smartphones in 2014.”
That’s the single biggest feature being announced here: Google wants to get everyone on the same platform, and is doing more than it ever has to end the fragmentation problem. One version over the next year is a hugely ambitious goal, but if the company is serious about not only serving a growing developing market, but offering it something like software version parity, it seems like it’s finally figured out how to go about doing that. It’ll still be up to manufacturers to decide whether or not devices get the KitKat upgrade, Google notes, so we’ll probably still see a fair amount of older devices get left out via official update channels.
Here’s what’s coming with KitKat, which launched on the new Nexus 5 today.