Google announced that it has begun pushing Android 4.4 KitKat to the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. The operating system is first being made available to WiFi-only models in the US, with other models and locations to follow later.
According to Google, one of the biggest changes in Android 4.4 KitKat is streamlined code. Google cut down the complexity of the operating system so that it could be used on a broader range of hardware. The company said devices with as little as 512 MB of RAM will be able to run KitKat with most features intact. In other words, Google wants KitKat to work on entry-level devices better. That's a good thing.
This means the new operating system should run quite smoothly on Nexus tablets. The Nexus 7 has a quad-core, 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2 GB of RAM. The Nexus 10 has a Samsung Exynos 5 Dual processor with 2 GB of RAM. They have more than enough juice to get KitKat flowing.
[ Will KitKat work on Google Glass? Read Google Glass Update Precedes New Hardware. ]
Most of the other improvements are under the hood and meant for developers. They will be able to add printing functions to their apps and advantage of new animations, transitions, graphics acceleration, accessibility APIs, screen recording, and bezel-to-bezel apps. KitKat supports more Bluetooth profiles and bakes in support for IR blasters for controlling home theater equipment. The KitKat SDK is already available for download.
User-facing improvements in the OS include better notifications, a revised launcher, a new phone dialer app, improved device-wide search, and baked-in support for Google Now across the platform. There are plenty of changes to the home screen behaviors, as well as the main app menu, which has been dramatically simplified. For example, lumping together some of the controls for customizing the home screen panels makes them a bit easier to use. Google also made the icons a lot bigger, so they are easier to see.
The 2012 and 2013 versions of the Nexus 7 will receive the new operating system. In addition to the tablets, Android 4.4 KitKat will also be available on the Nexus 4, the Samsung Galaxy S4, and HTC One Google Play edition mobile devices in the coming weeks. (The Play Edition devices are flagship-grade hardware with stock Android on board, instead of the manufacturer's user interface). KitKit is preinstalled on the Nexus 5 smartphone.
One of the main benefits of owning a Nexus-branded device is having first access to the latest system updates from Google. This is a prime example of that benefit at work.
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