Android 4.4 KitKat – Journey of Features from Android 1.5 Cupcake

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Most of the people thought that the next upcoming version of the Android mobile operating system will be Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie, but surprisingly, Google announced that it would be Android 4.4 KitKat – named after Hershey and Nestle’s chocolate covered wafers. Till date, Android operating system has been used by more than 900 million active devices, and due to its huge popularity we all know that Android versions have been named in alphabetical order after desserts: Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean. Now its turn of alphabet ‘K’ – Chocolate lovers would be happy to know that the next version of Android is named after one of your favorite chocolate treats – Kit Kat!

Android 4.4 KitKat - Journey of Features from Android 1.5 Cupcake

In a Google+ post that announced Android’s one billion activation achievements, Sundar Pichai (the Android and Chrome head) has posted an image of a KitKat-themed Android statue outside the well-known building 44 on Google’s campus. Just as the image of this statue rolled out, the official KitKat Twitter account got in on the fun, and the Android KitKat website went Live with an affirmation that it was certainly going to be Android KitKat. Head over to the Android KitKat website and see a neat little display of the Android version history and some details about a contest.

To make this release sweeter, Kit Kat is offering you an opportunity to win a Nexus 7 or Google Play credit from September 6 – January 31, 2014. What you have to do is – only look for Special Android-branded KitKat packages that feature the Android robot in a store near you. The “fun and unexpected” partnership of Google and Nestle will give 1000 Nexus 7 tablets, 150,000 $5 Google Play credits, as well as 20,000 coupons for a free Eight ounce bag of Kit Kat Minis.

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With Android KitKat, Google stated that its goal is “to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody,” the bold statement even recommends that Google plans to utilize its next iteration of Android in smartwatches, gaming consoles as well as other electronic gadgets. There are no details about its features and release date so far, but it seems that the next version of Android will come in the near future. Indeed, Google tends to launch new versions with new hardware, so possibly the new Nexus phone is on the way also.

One major thing to note is that there are no Trademark issues because Google got Nestle’s consent to make use of the “Kit Kat” trademark (without the space), although with a twist. The director of Android global partnerships – John Lagerling told the BBC that “this is not a money-changing-hands kind of deal,” but they wished to do something “fun and unexpected.”

Several questions are arising in the minds of people looking at this partnership as Android operating system is already very popular so it would have no problem getting awareness regarding its OS services. Then what’s the reason for this co-branding? What do you think about it – a wonderful idea or Google made a slip-up in commercializing Android? If Google and Android get huge achievement turning Android KitKat into a lifestyle product, could this signify that Google will tie up with another brand for the “L” release of Android, or is this just a one-off deal?

Journey of Features from Android 1.5 Cupcake to 4.2 Jelly Bean:

 

Android Version History Chart - Visual Infographic

 

Android 1.5 (Cupcake)

This was the first android update released in mid-May 2009, which officially used a code name based on a dessert – “Cupcake”. Since then, Google began a trend of naming its OS after a dessert so people are amazed to read the names of various pet desserts after the word ‘Android’. Widgets were introduced; and Google began letting third parties to make widgets for Android use. Android 1.5 Cupcake added support for third party softwares like Bluetooth, keyboard, stereo, copy-paste in the web browser, screen auto-rotation and uploading videos to YouTube and photos to Picasa.

  • Support for widgets
  • Copy & paste in browser
  • Animated screen transitions
  • Auto-rotation
  • New stock boot animation
  • Record/watch videos
  • Soft-keyboard w/ text-prediction
  • Bluetooth A2DP, AVRCP support
  • Upload photo and video to Picasa and YouTube respectively

Android 1.6 (Donut)

This version was released in September 2009 by presenting the search procedure better than before, battery usage indicator and control applet VPN. This version has many new updates including text-to-speech technology. Donut was mainly an under-the-hood overhaul for Android, and brought support for CDMA networks, a greatly improved market, and revamped the Search functionality to not only search the web, but also your phone. There were a number of improvements in camera features and the faster shooting with camera was available. The camera, the camcorder and the gallery were completely integrated with each other. Minor visual changes such as a lighter notification bar color were applied, but commonly, it looked quite same as Cupcake.

  • Quick search box
  • Battery usage indicator
  • Text to speech engine
  • Camera, camcorder and gallery integration
  • CDMA/EVDO, 802.1x & VPNs support
  • Multilingual speech synthesis engine
  • New Gestures builder dev tool
  • New framework APIs
  • Easier search, app screenshots in market’
  • Support WVGA screen resolution

Android 2.0/2.1 (Éclair)

After the company’s acquisition by Google, Éclair (released in Oct 2009) was Android’s first visual revamp. It brought a revamped user interface (UI) and the foreword of Live Wallpapers (animated wallpapers at the homescreen). You could arrange apps and widgets across various screens and in folders. There is Bluetooth 2.1 support for transferring files speedily. Suppose you have several emails, then you could browse those accounts at the same time and the Account sync allows synchronization of email and contacts straightforwardly. If you want to call or text friends, then simply long press on the wanted Contact name, and then choose to Call or Text them. The Camera app on Android 2.0 has Scene Modes, white balance, flash support, digital zoom, and more.

  • Multiple accounts
  • Google Maps 3.1.2 with better experience
  • Bluetooth 2.1 support
  • Search for saved SMS & MMS
  • Live wallpapers
  • Email & contact sync
  • Exchange email support
  • Quick contact
  • Browser support for HTML5
  • New framework APIs
  • Optimized hardware speed
  • Multiple screen sizes and resolutions support
  • New camera features like flash support and digital zoom

Android 2.2 (Froyo)

The Android version 2.2 (Froyo) was launched on May 20, 2010 and Google Nexus One was the first to get its OS updated to Android 2.2. Android Froyo provided the quick-launch icons for the dialer and browser beside the app drawer, plus the inclusion of the selectable search type menu on the Search widget. In this version, USB Tethering and Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot were integrated features so one can disable data access. The new JavaScript engine was included for faster browser speed. The Adobe Flash support was one of the other key features. There were small changes done in Android Froyo updates 2.2.1, 2.2.2 and 2.2.3.

  • Support Android cloud to device messaging (C2DM)
  • Chrome V8 JS engine in browser
  • Portable Wi-Fi hotspot functionality
  • Disable data access over mobile
  • Improved Microsoft Exchange support
  • Dedicated shortcuts on home screen
  • Voice dialing, contact sharing over Bluetooth
  • Bluetooth enabled dock support
  • High PPI screen support
  • Multiple keyboard languages
  • Car mode and Night mode UI frameworks
  • Support numeric and alphanumeric password
  • Support Adobe Flash

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

This version was launched in December, 2010, a mere 6 months later after Froyo made headlines. It was believed to be a “major” visual update for Android initially, but it was more of a boot polishing in reality. Gingerbread finally did away with the awful, old notification bar, in support of the black one. You can speedily switch between front and back camera in the modified camera app while you can do Copy-paste word by word (press-hold to choose) instead of with blocks of text. Other improvements include updates to Google apps and performance enhancements.

  • Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Access to multiple cameras
  • XL screen sizes & resolutions support
  • Native input & sensor events
  • Better control over apps
  • Improved copy/paste
  • Video chat with Google Talk
  • New download manager
  • New mixable audio effects
  • SIP based internet telephony
  • Multi touch keyboard
  • WebM/VP8 video playback support
  • AAC audio encoding support
  • Open API for native audio
  • Robust native dev environment

Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

Designed particularly for Android Honeycomb tablets, this version was released in February 2011. The first tablet based on Honeycomb was Motorola Xoom, which released in the same month. Everything is on the User Interface, so no need to have physical buttons. The Back and Home keys acquire continuous marks at the bottom of the screen. Widgets become more famous because developers get more room to play with because of the bigger screen size. In the main view, observe 2 bars – Action bar at the top for providing access to individual apps & widgets, and the System bar at the bottom for displaying notifications and soft navigation buttons.

  • New virtual & “holographic” UI
  • Quick access to camera features
  • Support for video in Google Talk
  • Added System bar, Action bar
  • Multiple browser tabs replace windows
  • Hardware acceleration
  • Customizable home screen
  • Ability to encrypt all user data
  • Simplified multitasking
  • Redesigned keyboard

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

After Éclair, the biggest visual change to Android is Ice Cream Sandwich, announced on October 2011. Indeed, it’s a notably larger step than that – it has Software function buttons, brand new icons, entire new system font, color scheme, and reorganized menus. Moreover, ICS brings a slew of hardware acceleration improvements, revamped Google apps, and several other stuffs. Now the launcher is customizable and one can add both apps and widgets (which have been divided) into their homescreens or panels through drag-and-drop. As well, Default keys at the bottom of the homescreen can be customized and hold numerous folders (or apps) which emerge stacked together. Choose icon once to spot options; choose again to launch the app.

  • Recent apps multitasking
  • Resizable widgets
  • Integrated screenshot capture
  • Real time speech to text dictation
  • Android Beam for NFC
  • Apps accessible from lock screen
  • Drag and drop folder creation
  • Google Chrome
  • Data usage warnings
  • Shut down apps in background
  • Swipe to dismiss notifications
  • Build in photo editor
  • WebP image format support
  • Wi-Fi direct
  • Face unlock
  • Consolidated platform for phones and tablets

Android 4.1 (Jelly bean)

Released in June 2012, Jellybean comes with fast and smooth buttery graphics. You can get the right details at the right time with Google Now. Get the freedom to do what you want on any device with over 1 million apps on Google Play. Animations and transitions are visibly improved with vsync (Vertical synchronization) timing. There are many remarkable features of Jelly Bean, which include expandable notifications, offline voice recognition and dictation, USB audio output and HDMI multi-channel audio output, App encryption and Smart App updates. Robot font was refreshed, Widgets were set dynamically resizable, and the word prediction was updated as well. Jelly Bean also supports advanced natural language voice search function.

  • Google Now search app
  • Google Cloud Messaging (GCM)
  • Vsync timing
  • Multiple language support
  • User installable keymaps
  • Expandable notifications
  • Triple buffering in graphics pipeline
  • Synchronized and anticipatory touch
  • Android Beam w/Bluetooth data transfer
  • Gapless playback
  • Actionable notifications
  • Lockscreen widgets
  • Multi-user support
  • Multi-screen support
  • Offline voice dictation
  • Multichannel & USB audio
  • Project butter – improved performance and smoothness

Android KITKAT 4.4 – The future of confectionery (Youtube video):

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