Since it was announced in early September, we've known next to nothing about Android 4.4, or KitKat. A rumor this morning suggested that the big game changer in the latest version of Android would be that it runs on low-end devices with less than a gigabyte of memory. As it turns out, that was right on the money.
In a blog post detailing Android 4.4, Google confirms that KitKat will run comfortably on low-end smartphones. It was able to accomplish this by making Android's memory footprint much smaller than before. Here's the explanation:
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. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. 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.
As for other details, Google says that KitKat will be "bringing more Google smarts to Android." In other words, stuff like Google Voice Search and Google Now will be even more deeply integrated into the Google experience. For example, the phone app has been upgraded to help you not only search through you contacts, but to help you search for the phone number of nearby businesses and even your own company's directory.
As for Google Now, it can be launched directly from the home screen through either a swipe or voice command. You only have to say "OK, Google" and you can "launch voice search, send a text, get directions or even play a song you want to hear." Google also says that it will be bringing new card types to Google Now in the coming weeks, including updates to the blogs that you follow.
Another useful feature for those with wireless printers is that Android now has a Print Services API. This means that you can now easily send documents from your phone to your wireless printer.
Finally, KitKat will allow app developers to create full screen apps. For example, the Google Books app can now display a book's text on the entire display. Those who read eBooks will no longer have to gaze upon the notification bar when reading the latest thriller. Same goes for movies and games as they will now be able to take up the entire screen.
Android 4.4 will be immediately available on the new Nexus 5, and will soon be available as an OTA update on the Nexus 7, Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 over the coming weeks. As for other devices, you'll just have to wait until your carrier confirms it.[Image: googlenexus/YouTube]