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Google explains how it made Android 4.4 KitKat suitable for cheap devices

News by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday November 27, 2013.

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Android 4.4 KitKat
Android 4.4 KitKat

As Google transitioned from one version of Android to the next, various devices were left behind along the way because their limited hardware could no longer keep up with the demands of the growing OS. Worse yet, even new devices launched with old Android Gingerbread because its hardware couldn't keep up with the demands of Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

Google's Project Svelte was designed to end the need of high-powered hardware for Android to work effectively. As Dave Burke, head of engineering for the Android team at Google, points out, Project Svelte was about making Android work well even on the devices with low RAM. Burke told ReadWrite:

"We were kind of joking that, when I started, the first thing that I was working on was Project Butter to make the system smoother. The thing is, butter puts on weight. So then I did Project Svelte to lose weight. So now my contribution to Android is basically zero,"

Burke also reveals the steps Google took to make Android slim down, including:

- The Android team took a Nexus 4 and pushed its RAM down to 512MB, down from its natural 2GB, to test the phone on a regular basis

- The Nexus 4 was then cut down to have two cores instead of four because most low-cost phones don't have quad-core processors

- The HD resolution was dropped down to qHD

After several Google members used the weakened Nexus 4, the team realized that it had to make several system-wide changes in order to make Android usable on devices that don't have the latest and greatest specs. That should cut down on the number of new phones running outdated software and hopefully limit the number of phones left behind going forward. More details about Project Svelte are available at ReadWrite.

source: ReadWrite

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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