Google announced the release of the latest version of Android, called KitKat, accompanied by its latest Nexus flagship smartphone – Nexus 5, manufactured by LG Electronics.
The company said the new release is intended to address one of the main complaints of the Android ecosystem – fragmentation. While most mid-tier and high-end smartphones have migrated to a later version of the platform, many entry-level devices are still using a much earlier version (Android 2.3 certainly has some longevity).
The search giant said that “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”.
This means that “Android can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world, bringing the latest goodies in Android 4.4 within reach for the next billion smartphone users”.
For users, the company said that with KitKat it has “made the experience more engaging: the book you’re reading, the game you’re playing, or the movie you’re watching – now all of these take centre stage with the new immersive mode, which automatically hides everything except what you really want to see”.
The company has also updated the phone dialler, by directly integrating search across contacts, nearby places, and Google accounts. And a new Hangouts app brings together SMS and MMS messages together along with other conversations and video calls.
The widely-reported Nexus 5 is described as the “slimmest and fastest Google Nexus phone to date”, and offers a high-end feature set at a more modest price point.
The LG-made device is powered by a 2.26GHz quadcore processor, had a 4.95-inch full HD screen, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage, and 8MP camera with OIS. White and black versions will be available.
It will be available in CDMA or WCDMA 3G versions, and includes LTE support.
Nexus 5 is available now from Google Play in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Offline availability in Europe, Central/South America, Asia, CIS and the Middle East will begin in mid-November.
Prices start at $349.
Several operators have also stated they intend to offer the smartphone.