It looks like Google decided to provide a Halloween treat
for their developers this year in the form of
KitKat, Android 4.4. Here’s a rundown of the new development features that have Android
developers talking. (You can
get the official list of changes straight from the
API.)

1. The slogan I’m seeing thrown around for KitKat is
“Making Android for Everyone.” This is in regards to Google’s push
for an entire subcategory of mobile phones that previously did not meet the
minimum hardware requirements to run Android. According to the documentation, recent optimizations and reduction in
memory footprint now means devices with as little as 512K can run Android. To
assist developers in providing a good user experience on these low-end devices,
Google has tuned the ActivityManager class, as well as added some new memory
analysis tools.

2. For those of you who have been working with NFC and
mobile payments, KitKat brings some new near field communications payment
options to the table via Host Card Emulation (HCE).

3. A new print framework and the APIs required to support it
have come to the Android SDK. This means Android developers won’t have to stare
dumbly at their feet when clients ask for an Apple AirPrint alternative in
their apps.

4. Two of the more interesting changes to me come in the
form of sensor enhancements. There is now an actual step detector / counter
(essentially a digital pedometer), all wired through the new low-power /
batching framework, which will hopefully increase battery life and give
developers more options than ever on sensor input.

5. Two long overdue features now found in KitKat are the
themes to produce translucent styling and the capability to hide all system UI
elements (finally), providing a complete full screen experience.

6. Another feature that has me excited is the transitions
framework (a storyboarding API for animating scene changes). These have been
common in most game development environments for years, and I’m glad to see
Google putting such an emphasis of late on making a beautiful user experience.

7. While there are plenty of other features in KitKat I want
to explore, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the new screen recording
capability. Developers and users will be able to record apps running on their
device into a common video format for upload and subsequent sharing and playback.
You can look forward to full motion video instead of screen shots on future
blog posts when a video will better illustrate a technique or tutorial.

How about it Android developers: What new KitKat API are you
most looking forward to diving into? 
Sound off in the thread below.

More about KitKat

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