31 October 2013

Android 4.4 KitKat and Updated Developer Tools

Posted by Dave Burke, Engineering Director, Android Platform

Today we are announcing Android 4.4 KitKat, a new version of Android that brings great new features for users and developers.

The very first device to run Android 4.4 is the new Nexus 5, available today on Google Play, and coming soon to other retail outlets. We’ll also be rolling out the Android 4.4 update worldwide in the next few weeks to all Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 devices, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play Edition devices.

As part of this release, we kicked off Project Svelte, an effort to reduce the memory needs of Android so that it can run on a much broader range of devices, including entry-level devices that have as little as 512MB RAM. From the kernel to system, frameworks, and apps, we've reduced memory footprint and improved memory management so Android can run comfortably on only 512MB of RAM. We did this not only on Android but across Google apps, like Chrome and YouTube.

By supporting a broader range of devices, Android 4.4 will help move the Android ecosystem forward. Now all users will be able to enjoy the very best that Android has to offer, on the devices that best meet their needs.

Here’s a quick look at some of the new features for developers:

  • New ways to create beautiful apps — A new full-screen immersive mode lets your app or game use every pixel on the screen to showcase content and capture touch events. A new transitions framework makes it easier to animate the states in your UI. Web content can take advantage of a completely new implementation of WebView built on Chromium.
  • More useful than ever — A printing framework lets you add the convenience of printing to your apps. A storage access framework makes it easier for users find documents, photos, and other data across their local and cloud-based storage services. You can integrate your app or storage service with the framework to give users instant access to their data.
  • Low-power sensors — New hardware-integrated sensors let you add great new features to your apps without draining the battery. Included are a step detector and step counter that let you efficiently track of the number of walking steps, even when the screen is off.
  • New media capabilities — A new screen recorder lets you capture high-quality video of your app directly from your Android device. It's a great new way to create walkthroughs, tutorials, marketing videos, and more. Apps can use adaptive playback to offer a significantly better streaming video experience.
  • RenderScript in the NDK — A new C++ API in the Android Native Development Kit (NDK) lets you use RenderScript from your native code, with access to script intrinsics, custom kernels, and more.
  • Improved accessibility support — New system-wide captioning settings let your apps present closed captions in the style that's preferred by the user.

There's a lot more, so be sure to check out the Android 4.4 platform highlights for a complete overview of those and other new capabilities for developers. For details on the APIs and how to use them, take a look at the API Overview or watch one of the new DevBytes videos on KitKat.

Along with the new Android 4.4 platform we're releasing a new version of the Android NDK (r9b). The new NDK gives you native access to RenderScript and other stable APIs in Android 4.4, so if you've been waiting to use RenderScript from your native code, give it a try.

Last, we've updated the Support Package (r19) with a new helper library for printing images through the new printing framework, as well as other updates.

You can get started developing and testing on Android 4.4 right away, in Android Studio or in ADT/Ant. You can download the Android 4.4 Platform (API level 19), as well as the SDK Tools, Platform Tools, and Support Package from the Android SDK Manager.