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Thursday, 31 October 2013 09:25

KitKat might be a boon for underpowered devices

Written by Peter Scott

Including wearables?

Google is expected to roll out Android 4.4 KitKat over the next couple of weeks and since we have a couple of Nexus fundamentalists on the team, we’re looking forward to reviewing it. However, an interesting leak indicates that the update might come with a twist.

According to Amir Efrati, the focus of the KitKat update might not be on high-end devices and new features. Efrati got hold of a confidential document that indicates Google wants the new OS to work like a charm on low-end phones and other underpowered devices, like wearables.

If Google comes up with a leaner and meaner OS, it might proliferate on low-cost Android phones fast. Low-end and mid-range Android phones are huge sellers in many emerging markets. It could also help stamp out fragmentation, as it should have a relatively small footprint and run on older devices.

In addition, KitKat will support a range of new sensors, like a geomagnetic rotation vector, step detector and step counter, making it better for wearables in more ways than one. It should also open up new possibilities for fitness app developers.

NFC support should also get better, as developers will now be able to emulate credit cards without keeping information in the carrier-controlled “secure element” of the phone. Bluetooth support will be expanded with Bluetooth HID over GATT, whatever that is, and Bluetooth Message Access Profile.

Google is also looking at smart TVs and IR blasters. The new version allows developers to come up with better remote control apps the will use a new, standardized way of controlling IR blasters. However, the vast majority of Android devices don’t have IR, but this could change if Google starts pushing it. We’ll have to wait and see whether Google is planning to introduce IR on the new Nexus 5 and Nexus 10.

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