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As usual, Google has published the updated data on Android platform distribution numbers. The latest report, available on the Android Developer Dashboard, is based on data collected during a 7 day period ending on 1st of April, according to Google. The latest version of Google’s mobile OS, Android 4.4 (KitKat) now hold 5.3% of the share. This may sound like an underwhelming number for an OS version that was released around 5 months ago. But as many of us know, Android updates are affected by multiple factors. There are various parties including the device manufacturers and service providers, apart from Google, who control these software releases. The good news is that KitKat has actually seen a growth of more than 50% within a month, compared to the 2.5% share it held a month ago.

Android Platform Distribution Numbers - April 2014

Android Platform Distribution Numbers – April 2014

Overall Jelly Bean versions (4.1.x, 4.2.x, 4.3) control around 61.4% of the total share, which is a very slight decline from the 62% share they held a month ago. From the older versions, Ice Cream Sandwich holds 14.3% of the share while “more than three year old” Gingerbread still holds 17.8% of the share (down from 19%, a month ago).

What is important to note about this data is that it reflects only the devices that run the latest Play Store App, which is compatible with Android 2.2 and above. So, devices that still run Android versions older than Android 2.2 (less than 1% as of August 2013 according to Google) and devices that doesn’t come with support to Google Play Store (Amazon’s Kindle Devices, Latest Nokia X series and many more devices coming from China etc.) are not reflected in this data.

For developers who are interested, the dashboard provides more data on screen sizes and Open GL Version among Android devices too.

 

Source: Android Developer Dashboards

    3823

    It’s been more than three months since the Nexus 5 has made an official public appearance, to be precise its release on October 31st last year, allowing people to place orders directly from Google’s play store and the pure Google experience that is stuffed inside this gorgeous flagship device has dramatically changed the way people look at mobile devices.

    The Nexus story was quite a little bit old by now but when you look back how it has changed over time was pretty amazing. We have come a long way since the first Nexus device suitably named to the Nexus One announced in 2010. Now we are in the new generation of apparently, ultra powerful, ever evolving smartphones at this point. Nevertheless for whatever reason, when Google was going to release their new version of the Nexus device along with their sweetest version of Android layered around it into this new era, they didn’t make a big deal about it with announcements and subsequent releases. For this search engine giant, publicity was never needed to be sought and still their recent Nexus devices sold out in minutes like hot dogs out of the stove.

    Nexus-5-Press-Image-005-1280x874

    The Nexus 5, with its sleek and smooth look managed to captivate the prospective users even before it hit the market officially.

    After the successful Nexus 4, it’s clear that Google has built up a relationship with LG for the following Nexus, which made both devices sold out in first few minutes as it was first released for placing orders. Unlike other flagship contenders like Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, everybody was quite anticipated to see how would it look, what features would it sport and who would take the challenge to cater the demand by manufacturing it for Google. Speculations twirled around the tech savvy people letting them wait for the successor to the previous Nexus, the 5th of its kind.

    Nexus 5 was made after LG’s own flagship smartphone named LG G2, designed with a minimal yet more premium and sophisticated look and feel, having almost of all its features trimmed a little bit down to match the Google’s low price point starting at 350 dollars for the 16GB version. It first came with two color choices say black and white and now it’s available in bright red too. The competitive specifications of Nexus 5 were good enough to bring a great smartphone experience as a reference device for the industry and for developers or general consumers, bundled with pure and powerful updated Android experience currently available unlike the predecessors. Most importantly the main advantage in Nexus devices is quick over the air Android updates.

    nexus-evolution-video

    Evolution of Nexus series has been extraordinary. The look and feel as well as the hardware specification have improved over a short period of time.

    Google uses their Nexus line to introduce the latest version of Android operating system and this time they released the tastiest Android experience they have ever made Android 4.4 KitKat with new user interface improvements and other eye-catching features that comes only available for the Nexus 5 at the moment. The new Google Experience launcher provides translucent notification and navigation bars with a second home screen fully dedicated to ‘Google Now’ with the ability to initiate voice searches by simply saying “Okay Google” when you are in any home screen. The updated camera was improved to produce better image quality with clear and saturated colors as a result of optical image stabilization plus incremental updates to Android KitKat in order to make the imaging experience more serviceable. Initially the downside of the Nexus 5 was its battery life and it’s not as pathetic as it seems on average usage, but someone would feel like reaching for the charging cable earlier than any probably it should compared to competitors.

    With the Nexus 5, you are getting exactly what you are needed without having any bloatware or heavy applications that provides sky high features. It is a phone that suits the daily drive, because it is simple and it does what you need to do without giving any fuss. A rumor which started circulating a few weeks back stated that we might have to rely on much expensive Google Play edition devices to get our hands on pure Android experience, as it seems the Nexus line might come to an end this year, which surely is not a good news for many consumers. So let’s have our fingers crossed until 2015 to see these rumors to get some backing. Till then enjoy pure Android on Nexus.
    Image Courtesy: Smart Droid and Techno Buffalo

    2077

    A new runtime in Android may soon replace Dalvik.

    Android apps run in Dalvik. We know this as sure as the sun rises in the morning and water is wet. It is the foundation of how Android apps can run on a variety of devices with different amounts of RAM and processors.

    In the near future, Google may be getting rid of Dalvik for a new standard that runs Android apps called Android Runtime (ART).

    Dalvik is the virtual machine that compiles the code that make your Android apps work. Typically, Android apps are written in the Java programming language and compiled into bytecode—the generic numeric code that is submitted by developers to app stores like Google Play (the same code makes it less processor intensive to run on a variety of devices). That bytecode is then transferred from a Java Virtual Machine file to a Dalvik executable file.

    You may think that all your apps and the code that makes them live in a happy place somewhere inside your smartphone. Really, they don’t. That happy place doesn’t exist. In reality, every time you run an app, the bytecode that comprises the program is run through a compiler that makes it work. In Android, this is done through a process known as a “Just In Time” (JIT) compiler that translates the universal bytecode into machine code, which in turn becomes a hardware-specific program known as an app. This is essentially what Dalvik in Android does.

    android_art_settings

    Imagine: every time you open an app, all the different parts of the smartphone responsible for making that app work have to scramble to assemble the code for the app to make it work on your device. You close the app and all those parts relax. You open it and they scramble again. This is not a very efficient way to run apps but it allows those apps to run basically anywhere (it was one of the reasons it was so easy for BlackBerry to port Android apps to the BlackBerry 10).

    With Android Runtime, Google will attempt to change this process so that apps run faster and are more tied to the hardware of the device than ever.

    What Is ART?

    I first ran into Android Runtime—ART—earlier this week when diddling with the developer settings on the Nexus 5. It is presented in the Developer Options settings of the device as “Select Runtime.” “Use Dalvik” or “Use ART” are the options.

    There has not been a lot written about ART but Android Police seems to have the scoop. ART has been secretly in the works from Google for about two years. ART uses an “Ahead Of Time” (AOT) compiler instead of JIT. It is like a Web browser pre-caching websites to be able to load them faster. The AOT compiler translates the bytecode into machine code when an app is downloaded on a device. This machine code may take up more storage memory on a device, but it will make apps open faster and run smoother than before. 

    Hidden within Google’s Android developer website is a very short introduction to ART:

    ART is a new Android runtime being introduced experimentally in the 4.4 release. This is a preview of work in progress in KitKat that can be turned on in Settings > developer options. This is available for the purpose of obtaining early developer and partner feedback.

    Important: Dalvik must remain the default runtime or you risk breaking your Android implementations and third-party applications.

    Two runtimes are now available, the existing Dalvik runtime (libdvm.so) and the ART (libart.so). A device can be built using either or both. (You can dual boot from Developer options if both are installed.)

    The important note here is that ART is an experimental setting for developers and device manufacturers. It can lead to instability of the operating system, cause apps to crash constantly and basically turn your Nexus 5 into a worthless hunk of attractively lasered plastic.

    Cody Toombs of Android Police outlines the potential benefits of ART:

    Thus far, estimates and some benchmarks suggest that the new runtime is already capable of cutting execution time in half for most applications. This means that long-running, processor-intensive tasks will be able to finish faster, allowing the system to idle more often and for longer. Regular applications will also benefit from smoother animations and more instantaneous responses to touch and other sensor data. Additionally, now that the typical device contains a quad-core (or greater) processor, many situations will call for activating fewer cores, and it may be possible to make even better use of the lower-powered cores in ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. How much this improves battery life and performance will vary quite a bit based on usage scenarios and hardware, but the results could be substantial.

    Are we soon to see the end of Dalvik in favor of a more efficient runtime that could make Android apps perform much, much better? Probably not quite yet. Google will test ART with its manufacturing partners and developers for the foreseeable future. If ART works like it is supposed to, all that scrambling within a smartphone to make an app work will stop and the code that runs the app will just be there on your device, waiting for you to open it.

    Source : http://readwrite.com/2013/11/07/how-google-may-be-planning-to-make-android-apps-faster-with-art#awesm=~omAbIK97N2Ft3E

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    Google’s desire to integrate social features into its mobile OS will soon see it use Google+ profile photos to identify Android callers. The new feature comes as an update to the new caller ID service in Android 4.4 KitKat, allowing the company to automatically match phone numbers from incoming and outgoing calls with names and profile photos associated with a registered account. Google staffer Attila Bodisnotes that the feature will be enabled in “early 2014″ but can only display names and profile photos if the user has verified their phone number and has discovery switched on. While the idea is to bring a sense of familiarity to phone calls, not everyone will see the merit of sending a headshot to people they call — so Google is offering an way to opt out. Simply head on over to this link, untick the checkbox and all of your Android-toting friends will no longer be able to see your beautiful face (unless, of course, they add it themselves).

    Source : http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/06/google-profile-photos-android-calls/

    1913

    By now we all know that Google’s not-so-secret Nexus 5 is for sale. We got our hands on a review unit and here are our initial impressions. Keep in mind that these are only first impressions after having used it for a few hours and so haven’t completely taken it through the wringer, but we wanted to show you what you can expect for this $349 and $399 phone.

    IMG 1941 730x486 Hands on first impressions of Googles Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat

    There’s nothing that makes the packaging stand out among all of the other Nexus devices, but when you open up the box and take out the Nexus 5, this is where your new Nexus experience begins. At just 8.59 millimeters and weighing 4.8 ounces, the smartphone is extremely thin and light — it almost felt as though it could break while in your hands.

    The 5-inch display makes it suitable to fit in the palm of your hands, but while carrying it in my pocket while walking through San Francisco, it sort of felt like it was out of place — perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to the fact that I’ve had 3- to 4-inch phones for the past few years. Although you can hold the device in one hand, it doesn’t immediately feel comfortable enough size to manage all your affairs as such. Trying to type out emails or using certain apps required the use of both hands.

    Users will notice that the display is sharp, perhaps akin to Apple’s Retina display. All the details of the icons and content on the phone are pretty clearly visible.

    IMG 1947 730x486 Hands on first impressions of Googles Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat

    LG is the company behind the Nexus 5. The construction appears to be pretty sturdy and it’s quite easy to grip. However, the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screendoes make it prone to smudges and fingerprints and almost as soon as I took the phone out of the box and removed the screen covering, a fingerprint emerged.

    The camera has 8.1 megapixels and comes with optical image stabilization. It takes some pretty good photographs which we’ll be showing off later, including HDR and Photo Spheres. There’s a single flash on the Nexus 5, which when enabled, will turn on as you try and focus on something in a darkened room. So if you plan on taking photos at a night club or in the evening, better warn people of two flashes.

    IMG 2005 730x486 Hands on first impressions of Googles Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat

    So what about KitKat, Google’s latest Android operating system? In my preliminary assessment, it’s stable and useful. The fact that Google Now has been incorporated so well into the platform so that it’s accessible from any of the home screen windows will hopefully help users find what they want quicker.

    In a bit of a pet peeve, the phone will respond to anyone that says “OK Google”. It’s interesting that KitKat hasn’t incorporated the same preventative measure that Google has with its Glass product (it won’t activate when random people walk by and scream “OK Google” into the device). Nevertheless, I found Google Now useful, especially when I asked it to open apps. Gmail and Flipboard opened instantly, though Instagram failed to open on cue. Why that happened is unknown, so a bit of tweaking could be done — it’s still far from perfect.

    IMG 1966 730x486 Hands on first impressions of Googles Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat

    The overall appearance of Android 4.4 is decent, but if you’re expecting a remarkable overhaul from Jellybean, you’re going to be disappointed. Although the aesthetics haven’t changed that dramatically, the experience itself has. We’ll dive deeper into this when we have an opportunity to do a more in-depth review of the Nexus 5.

    IMG 1990 730x486 Hands on first impressions of Googles Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 KitKat

    Nexus 5 owners will also find that it includes the latest Hangouts app, which lets you to send SMS and MMS messages, along with Quickoffice, which enables you to open or create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations — a potential rival to Microsoft Office.

    Google Wallet also comes installed on KitKat, which is needed in order to take advantage of the “Tap & pay” feature.

    When I received the phone it had a fully charged battery. After seven hours, it still has 56 percent remaining after setting it up, installing apps, checking email, taking a few photos, and surfing the Web. Besides that, the rest of the power consumption was through the screen being on and also Google Search. However, as I begin to use it more with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and checking email, it will be interesting to see how well the battery stands up.

    Plastic cases are also available for the Nexus 5 and Google included a florescent orange/pink one — it’s noticeably bright so you won’t miss it in a darkened environment. It’s flimsy, but sturdy enough for those who want some added protection for their device without paying a lot for it.

    Based on the few hours we’ve had to play with the Nexus 5, it’s a solid-looking and flexible device that has the potential to help you get the information you want, make sure you arrive at your destination safely, and be a productivity workhorse. This device may be Google’s effort to stand up against the likes of the iPhone 5s, the HTC One, or the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it might fall short of that aspiration. It’s certainly offering some premium features, but at an affordable price point.

    Source : http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/11/02/hands-first-impressions-googles-nexus-5-android-4-4-kitkat/