Google unloads more Android treats: KitKat, Nexus 5

You didn't think a video shot on Google Glass was the only treat that the Internet giant had in store today, did you?
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

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:

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