Google is likely gearing up to launch Android 4.4 KitKat at some point tomorrow, but before then some interesting new leaks have surfaced via former Wall Street Journal reporter Amir Efrati. Efrati claims to have reviewed a document that Google shared with companies to explain KitKat’s most important new features, and among them is a focus on TV, wearables and low-end phones.
It’s no secret that Android fragmentation is a major issue, and Efrati claims that Google is looking to remedy this by making the next version of Android run better on lower-end devices. According to the document Efrati reviewed, “KitKat ‘optimizes memory use in every major component’ and provides ‘tools to help developers create memory-efficient applications’ for ‘entry-level devices,’ such as those that have 512 megabytes of memory.”
This would make it possible to install the new version of Android on older phones, though there’s still no guarantee that carriers will push the update out.
TV support is getting special attention as well, as KitKat reportedly allows developers to build apps that control switches, televisions and tuners via built-in infrared blasters. We’ve already seen this feature, notably on IR blaster-equipped devices from HTC and Samsung, but they use third-party software to implement television control. Building this support into Android could help create a more unified system, and potentially turn Android devices into the ultimate universal remote control.
And Google might be making a big play for the wearable space as well, with support for three new sensors, including a geomagnetic rotation vector, a step detector and a step counter. This type of support could work specifically with Google’s rumored smartwatch, but also with other future devices to feature these sensors. And as Efrati notes, collecting this type of movement information could help Google improve its walking directions for Google Maps, as well as create new maps for indoor locations.
It’ll be interesting to see which of these new features appear in KitKat; I’m hoping for all of them. Either way, we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out.