Google has finally unwrapped the full details behind Android 4.4 KitKat, its next major iteration of Android. Amongst the changes includes Project Svelte, which is Google’s effort to make Android run on low-memory devices (think 512MB RAM). It has achieved this by removing unnecessary background services and minimising the memory footprint of features not used often. This has also been done across Google apps, like Chrome and YouTube.
This memory optimisation as well as improvements to the touchscreen have also meant that multitasking is faster. The other big change is the full screen immersive mode, to bring greater engagement whilst reading a book or browsing photos. You just need to swipe the edge of the screen to bring back your status bar and navigation buttons.
Calling is also made easier by searching across contacts, nearby places and within Google Apps accounts. A smarter caller ID will also look for matches from businesses if an unknown call is received. There is a new screen recorder feature that allows you to capture high-quality video of your app directly from your Android device.
A new printing framework means that developers can add printing from apps using services such as Google’s Cloud Print. A storage access framework makes it easier for users find documents, photos, and other data across their local and cloud-based storage services. Android 4.4 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.
Android 4.4 introduces platform support for hardware sensor batching, a new optimization that can dramatically reduce power consumed by ongoing sensor activities. There is also support for two new composite sensors — step detector and step counter — that let your app track steps when the user is walking, running, or climbing stairs. These are currently only available on the Nexus 5 and is hardware dependent i.e. whether the chipset supports it.