Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Android for Some

Google’s SVP of Android, Sundar Pichai:

Building a platform that makes mobile phones accessible for everyone has always been at the heart of Android. 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.

Brad Molen, Engadget:

Google has taken to its Spanish support pages to announce that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is not on the list of devices to receive Android 4.4 KitKat. This seems a bit odd, given the new update’s focus on “the next billion” and offering solid performance to other budget devices, but at the moment things aren’t looking up for owners of the phone — or any older Nexus devices, for that matter.

The Galaxy Nexus was released in 2011, about a month after the iPhone 4S. Google cites an eighteen-month update cycle (phones released more than eighteen months ago don’t get updates), which is an odd choice when most carrier contracts are still two years long. I’m still using an iPhone 4S, and I know loads of people still using their iPhone 4, both of which received the iOS 7 update. I don’t know about you guys, but an eighteen month upgrade cycle seems needlessly expensive.

KitKat brings some new features to supported devices, as Darrell Etherington and Greg Kumparak of TechCrunch explain:

Aside from making KitKat the One OS To Rule Them All, Google has also introduced a number of new features with this update. Album art is displayed full screen behind the lockscreen when music is playing, for instance, and you can scrub the track without unlocking. There’s a new launcher, with translucency effects on the navigation bar and on the top notification bar.

How original.

Android now offers up a new dialer, which incorporates search for easy reference. This means you can enter the name of a business even if you don’t know it’s number or have it stored in your address book, and then the dialer will retrieve it from the same database that powers Google Maps. This also allows the phone to provide caller ID information for incoming calls, too, and there’s a new auto-populating favorites menu that builds a list of your most frequent dialled numbers.

This is really clever. Until just recently, I wasn’t aware that cell companies don’t have access to the caller ID information of landlines. Even if your cell provider is also a landline provider, there’s some sort of technical restriction which prevents them from accessing the same database. I’d really like this feature in iOS.