The Android KitKat launch is stupidly imminent, to the point where it might’ve been announced by the time this very article sees the light of day.
In the meantime, a leaked document intended for manufacturers - marked CONFIDENTIAL - reveals what's next for Android, specifically a focus on sexy performance on low-end devices, and compatibility with wearable tech.
In all likelihood, the next version of Android won’t mark a massive leap for the operating system, as implied by the iterative numbering. Jelly Bean currently takes us up to Android 4.3, while KitKat will officially be Android 4.4. The next major release will likely be Android 5.0.
On the KitKat Android 4.4 micro-site, Google says: “It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody”, suggesting it’ll play well with low-end devices, which have of course been vital in establishing Android as the world’s most popular smartphone operating system, though they're generally last on the list when it comes to updates.
The leaked document adds that KitKat Android 4.4 “optimizes memory use in every major component”, while providing “tools to help developers create memory-efficient applications” for “entry-level devices” – including those with just 512MB of RAM. At the other end of the scale, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has 3GB of RAM, but it’s hardly wallet-friendly.
In addition, the document says KitKat Android 4.4 will support three new sensor types, namely geomagnetic rotation vector, step detector and step counter. That immediately brings to mind wearable tech, and indeed Google is tipped to be prepping its own smartwatch for imminent release.
Other KitKat Android 4.4 features will supposedly include the ability for phones to “emulate” physical cards for payments, though NFC (Near Field Communication) adoption has been fairly slow in the west.
With KitKat Android 4.4 you’ll also be able to use your device as a TV remote, while Bluetooth wants to get hot and heavy with devices like joysticks, keyboards and in-car entertainment systems.
Like I say, KitKat Android 4.4 is set to touch down any moment now – alongside the Google Nexus 5 and possibly an Asus-built Google Nexus 10. The latest whispers suggest November 1 i.e. tomorrow.