This afternoon, Google surprised the lot of us by announcing the new version of Android. Instead of the rumored Key Lime Pie name, Google partnered with Nestle to name it KitKat. That’s about all we know at the moment, but one could easily speculate where Google will be taking Android with this latest iteration.
To understand KitKat, which is being referred to as Android 4.4, we have to look at the differences between the last two versions. Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, was the first time Android could stand toe-to-toe with iOS as it had a refined and easy-to-use UI. Android 4.1, or Jelly Bean, made it even better by introducing Project Butter and Google Now. It also introduced a number of other tweaks in Android 4.2 and 4.3 that made Jelly Bean arguably the best mobile OS on the market.
So, what’s up with Android 4.4 then? If we assume that remaining in the Android 4.x line means that it won’t receive a major UI overhaul, what does the new dessert name mean? The new dessert name usually implies a major new feature – like Project Butter in Android 4.1 – and Google gives us a pretty good hint as to what we can expect in the latest version of its mobile OS.
On the official Android page under Android 4.4, Google says that its goal with KitKat is “to make an amazing Android experience available to everyone.” One could easily look at that and see a simple statement that says Google wants to bring Android to more people around the world. By looking at the mounting evidence, however, KitKat’s big new feature could be that it will start supporting more than just mobile devices.
Over the last year, it’s been rumored that Google is working on a game console, a smart watch and a notebook line that will all run on Android. It could very well be that KitKat’s intention of bringing Android to everyone means that it’s finally moving beyond mobile devices. Sure, devices like the Ouya and cheap Chinese notebooks have already moved Android beyond its humble smartphone roots, but there’s been no official effort on the part of Google to do so.
With Android KitKat, we may finally see Android serving as the OS to more and more consumer electronics. Android is already at home on smart TVs, but what if other smart devices throughout the modern home integrated Android? What if the modern home had a security system, a refrigerator, washing machine, thermostat and other appliances and devices all running on Android?
There are certainly smart appliances out there today that can communicate with Android devices, but they aren’t using Android themselves. With KitKat, Google could finally display ads on more than just phones and tablets. Just imagine a smart refrigerator that displays ads for foods based upon what you currently have in it.
It should be noted that all of the above is merely speculation. Google could have made an innocent statement about its intention to make an Android for everyone with KitKat. I just happen to believe that the evidence points to Google having big plans for Android.