With the long-awaited rollout to many smartphones and tablets in progress, many interested users need to know: what’s new with Android KitKat? In short, Google’s latest update to its mobile operating system isn’t focused on including a ton of new features, like what we saw with the launch of Ice Cream Sandwich. Rather, KitKat is primarily earmarked at lessening the fragmentation that many argue is the weakest part of the Android platform.
Google wants Android KitKat to be usable on the wide array of Android devices — from high-end tablet computers all the way to a bare-bones smartphone. Ultimately, the company hopes to cement its market share lead over Apple in the process.
One of the reasons KitKat is able to run on lower-end Android devices is due to Google lowering the memory footprint of the operating system. Now shrunk by 16 percent, Android 4.4 fits snugly into a 512 MB memory space, so smartphones and tablets stuck on Android Gingerbread are able to upgrade to KitKat. Ultimately, it is up to Android device makers to put KitKat on their new devices.
KitKat’s user interface (UI) design sports the same minimalist design principles ushered in with Ice Cream Sandwich. Icons are larger with sharper text. The translucent status bar is a feature that can be leveraged by third-party Android app developers. Two visible home screens is now the default instead of five.
Other new UI features include improved management of wallpaper and widgets as well as an enhanced lock screen that lets you control audio playback and volume. The Google Now feature also is updated, providing a tile-like live information display somewhat akin to Windows Phone 8. Android’s search features also now look within apps for relevant info.
An enhanced phone dialer and improved texting features round out the major points of what’s new with Android KitKat. If you are an Android early adopter, you probably have already installed 4.4. Expect most Android device makers to support the new mobile operating system with their latest releases.
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