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Android 4.4 KitKat features announced: here's what's new


News by Andrew Kameka on Thursday October 31, 2013.

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Android 4.4 KitKat should arrive to most Google-branded devices, including the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, in the coming weeks. The newly announced Nexus 5 will have the update as well. A lengthy change log details all of the new things that developers can do with Android 4.4, but here's a short version of what's new in the latest version of Android.

Faster response regardless of RAM. Android 4.4 is made to run smoothly even if a device lacks the latest hardware. KitKat can run on 512 MB of RAM or better, which increases the chance that midrange devices in the future will be able to see more updates and features. Developers will also be able to design their apps to behave differently based on performance.

NFC Host Card Emulation. Devices will not have to use a secure element to perform transactions for payments, loyalty programs, transits passes, and more.

Android printing. Android 4.4 adds a built-in manager to discover printers, send jobs to a printer, and manage Google Cloud Print in Chrome, Drive, Gallery, QuickOffice, and other apps.

Sensor batching to use less power. Google has a new technique to "dramatically reduce power consumed by ongoing sensor activities." Rather than keep a sensor, like GPS, running continuously for long periods of time, Android 4.4 will let activities like fitness, location tracking, or monitoring provide updates in groups at designated times. The feature is designed to poll sensors less frequently on the Nexus 5, but Google is partnering with chipset makers to make it available on other devices.

Step Detector and Step Counter. Additional sensor support has been added to detect and count steps. Apps for walking or jogging are tracked, again with low power consumption in mind, at the device level. It allows fitness apps to consume less energy. Nexus 5 only for now, but coming to other devices as well.

Full-screen mode. There's a new way to make everything on the screen disappear, including the notification tab and navigation buttons (back, home, multitasking). Users get complete access to every visible area of the screen in this mode. Exiting full-screen mode requires swiping from the bottom of the display to the top.

A few user interface changes include a notification bar that is translucent over the home screen wallpaper. There are also new transitions and animations that developers can access. There's also new ways to display information on notifications.

Screen recording. Android 4.4 has a screen-recording mode that will create an MP4 video to track phone activity. This can be used for app demos or to show how to access certain materials.

Audio enhancements. Android 4.4 has multiple enhancements, including device-specific Audio Tunneling to DSP that will decrease the amount of power used. Tunneling adds 50 percent more playback time (up to 60 hours on Nexus 5). There are also changes made music visualizers, and a compressor to increase loudness on speech.

IR Blasters are now usable with new APIs that apps can access to support control TVs and other electronic devices.

Closed captions are now supported across the system with text sizes, styles, and languages being adjustable. Apps that use captions and VideoView can be designed to recognize user settings.

source: Android

 
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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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