Almost two months ago, Google unveiled Android 4.4, or KitKat. Since then, we’ve heard almost nothing about the new OS other than Google’s own cryptic promise to “make an amazing Android experience available for everybody.” Now a new report is expanding upon what that may mean.
Amir Efrati claims today to have seen a “confidential file” that Google shared with Android OEMs regarding the upcoming KitKat OS. The document reportedly details what Google is aiming for with Android 4.4, and what we can expect to see from it.
According to the document, Google is hoping to fix the fragmentation problem with Android 4.4. The company notes that lower end devices being released in developing markets like China and India run older versions of Android, like 2.3 or 4.0. With KitKat, Google is hoping to make a version of Android that runs well not only on the flagship devices like the Galaxy S 4, but the cheap low-end phones with only 512MB of RAM as well.
Interestingly enough, Android 4.4’s reported support of lower end devices will also help the mobile OS proliferate throughout the emerging wearable-computer market. The report states that KitKat will support three new sensors – geomagnetic rotation vector, step detector and step counter. In short, you’re going to start seeing Android proper show up in Google’s own smart watch as well as other smart watches from HTC and Samsung.
Another interesting tidbit is that Google is reportedly building remote control functionality into Android 4.4. Some flagship devices already have IR blasters that allow them to control TVs and other devices, but these are built on a device-by-device basis with no common API to pull from. That may change with Android 4.4 with developers being able to build their own remote control apps.
All the above is well and good, but what about existing devices? Will lower end devices be able to take advantage of KitKat? After all, the main reason many devices were passed over for getting Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean was that the devices weren’t powerful enough. Well, Efrati took to Google+ to say that “Google wants to make it easier for OEMs/carriers to push updates to existing devices.” He immediately cautioned to not “hold your breath” though.
In short, Android 4.4 sounds like the next logical step for Google. It needs to figure out how to keep everybody on the same page and an OS that targets low-end as well as high-end devices may be just what Android needs. Just don’t expect your carrier to suddenly start pushing out KitKat to your 3-year-old HTC Desire.