Google unloads more Android treats: KitKat, Nexus 5

Google unloads more Android treats: KitKat, Nexus 5

Summary: You didn't think a video shot on Google Glass was the only treat that the Internet giant had in store today, did you?

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Just in time for Halloween, Google is handing out KitKat -- the operating system, not chocolate bars -- along with peeling back the wrapper on the new Nexus 5 smartphone.

The Internet giant first revealed last month that the next installment of the Android mobile operating system would be named after the famous candy brand, whose moniker is licensed by Nestle and Hershey's, depending where you are in the world.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of the Android, Chrome & Apps departments, reiterated in a blog post on Thursday that KitKat has been developed with the goal to reach another billion mobile users worldwide.

A key part of the strategy appears to be ensuring that as many Android-powered devices possible can support the new operating system.

Aiming to remedy some of the problems caused by the fragmentation repeatedly criticized as a byproduct of the platform, Pichai suggested that Android 4.4 (a.k.a. KitKat) will be the first iteration of the OS to span more devices than ever:

Until now, some lower-end Android phones couldn't benefit from more recent Android releases due to memory constraints. With KitKat, we've slimmed down Android’s memory footprint by doing things like removing unnecessary background services and reducing the memory consumption of features that you use all the time. We did this not only within Android but across Google services like Chrome and YouTube. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users.

However, an exact launch date (at least for those who want to upgrade) still remains a mystery. Google only specified that KitKat, which will be supported on Nexus 4, 7, 10, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play edition devices, will deploy in the coming weeks.

But it will also be pre-loaded on the new Nexus 5 smartphone, also unveiled on Thursday -- not to mention being made available to consumers immediately.

Starting at $349 USD, the 5-inch smartphone is rolling out unlocked and without a contract across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan and Korea via Google Play.

In the United States, Google added that the Nexus 5 will also be sold via Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack in time for the holidays.

For all of the nitty-gritty details about the Nexus 5, check out ZDNet's Matthew Miller's coverage along with promo video below:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Smartphones, Tablets, Web development

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24 comments
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  • Phrases that seem to mean something... until you think about them.

    "Pichai suggested that Android 4.4 (a.k.a. KitKat) will be the first iteration of the OS to span more devices than ever:"

    Kinda reminds me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjvQFtlNQ-M
    dsf3g
  • Poor Google

    They don't talk to the cell phone manufacturers who control what version of Android gets put on older phones. Hint the vast majority don't update last month's or prior cell phones OSes...

    You can build it Google, yet most people won't ever see it unless they buy another new smartphone.
    TimeForAChangeToBetter
    • Poor Google...NOT

      They also announced today that they will NOT be upgrading their own Nexus 4 phones to Kit Kat, so even Google screws over their customers.
      eye4bear
      • Bwahahahahahaha

        Google....the new Microsoft.

        Ah yes, it didnt take long for the MBA types to come in and ruin Google.

        Well, the cafeteria has free skittles for employees, so things arent too bad for the bourgeois wage slaves writing code for Googl€
        otaddy
      • Nexus 4

        Huh? The article says that it will be upgraded in the coming weeks.
        roaming
      • Correction

        The Galaxy Nexus is the one not getting the upgrade (presumably because it uses a TI CPU and TI has exited the mobile chip market). The Nexus 4 is getting the upgrade as the article states.
        countolaf
      • Correction

        The Galaxy Nexus is the one not getting the upgrade (presumably because it uses a TI CPU and TI has exited the mobile chip market). The Nexus 4 is getting the upgrade as the article states.
        countolaf
  • So, can I immediately upgrade my Galaxy Tab 3?

    Of course not and goodness knows if let alone when it might happen.

    As usual, the best option is to toss a new device and buy another!
    1,2,3
  • and the point of the article is....

    Some factual information would have been good, like perhaps what makes Kit Kat different? what benefit will upgraders get? It seems silly for people to keep buying or upgrading simply because something is new - there needs to be compelling reasons to update. Something to build a business case on.
    gavin.bollard@...
    • No. no reason will be provided

      It is your duty as a citizen to consume and keep upgrading.
      otaddy
  • Poor Google - not

    "You can build it Google, yet most people won't ever see it unless they buy another new smartphone."

    First thing that comes to mind is "Duh". Google (like Apple) is in the business of obsoleting your current device so they can sell you a new one. Having to buy a new phone just to get bug fixes makes a PC look cheap.
    aureolin
    • Second thing that comes to mind ...

      ... is that some people can't seem to comprehend what they read.

      How does releasing a version of Android that covers low-end phones obsolete the Google devices, almost all of which will be upgraded, as usual, for free?

      And if you want, people like Cyanogenmod will give you pretty well any version you want on pretty well any phone you want. Also for free.

      "Whaah - I want my free stuff faster!". Bunch of spoiled brats.
      radleym
  • Hmmmmmmmmmmm I wonder?

    Do you think that KitKat is going to be ported over to Android tablets also?
    noraadrienne@...
  • Read the article and other Kitkat info.

    Either Gavin.Bolland and a few other commenters don't understand English very well or they have a miniscule grasp of technology. Some of the facts stated were: KitKat required far less RAM memory, and therefore will work on older Android smartphones that probably cannot accommodate maybe 1 or 2GB RAM. Stated elsewhere is fact that Android KitKat 4.4 won't require a high end quad core 1.5+ghz CPU, and will run just fine, for example, on my slightly less powerful Sony Xperia with only a dual core 1.2ghz ARM CPU.

    Other pertinent details about KitKat have been posted in several credible tech media , therefore uninformed and naive comments from many commenters on ZDNet look silly and maybe stupid.

    If Samsung and some vendors choose to 'not' upgrade or offer KitKat upgrades for "qualified" older model smartphones just to force the users onto new smartphones, that is not an indictment of the Android software - only Samsung.

    ZDNet needs to better moderate comments on their blogs so that more intelligent and sensible discourse is printed, to encourage readership.
    wanderson
    • It is absolutely an indictment of Android!

      The entire upgrade process is the problem because it relies on OEMs. A more effective process would by-pass OEMs and allowing upgrading if the device meets the requirements - just the way it is done with other OSes. The desire of Android IS the problem.
      1,2,3
      • Not really

        Google can't possible make the OS instantly work on all possible OEM hardware and customized versions of the OS. Google recognizes that they can't force an OEM to upgrade for devices and has been taking steps to help users get the latest features by changing the way major components are handled. Over the past couple of versions they are moving more and more items into separate components that are available as separate apps in the Google Play store, rather than being integrated into the OS. Even things like they keyboard are moving there. This allows them to upgrade them without an entire OS upgrade that requires the OEM cooperation.
        jvinga101
        • So, in other words

          The decisions that Google made created the problem.
          1,2,3
  • Confusion

    "whose moniker is licensed by Nestle and Hershey's, depending where you are in the world."

    That is owned by Nestlé and licensed by Hershey in America.
    wright_is
    • Nestle, Kitkat and Rowntree-Macintosh

      To a Brit like myself, KitKat will ALWAYS be a Rowntree's product. In England, chocolate manufacture was dominated be a few Quaker families. (Locally to me, in Bristol, a family called Fry actually invented the chocolate bar!) Run as family businesses, the owners were able to take an unusually long-term view, and were free to inject their religious views into the way they did business. (Fry's, Cadburys and Rowntrees were always very good companies to work for) When the European Union was due to become a "Single Market", Rowntrees invested heavily in market research, to see how their products would fare in Mainland Europe. Their research proved so promising that they ramped up their investment in it at the expense of short-term profit. They learned, for example, that the long-used catch-phrase that had promoted UK Kitkat sales ("Have a break - have a Kitkat") didn't work in Germany... but "DON'T take a break, have a Kitkat INSTEAD" worked very well. They realised that in mainland Europe, the competition for their product range was VERY weak.... and (thanks to their substantial investment in market research) they were ready to take-on all comers. At that point... Switzerland's Nestle swooped in like an Eagle on a lamb. Rang brokers and fund managers all over the UK with offers to buy their Rowntree shares at a 10% premium, if they'd sell RIGHT NOW. And most of them did so, happily scooping up a 10% bonus. Nestle, as a result, wound up owning Europe's biggest selling brands in just about every category of candies. Not just KitKat, but Lion Bars, "Quality Street" individually-wrapped candies...
      BigRonW