Google detailed new features available to developers following the release of the latest version of the Android platform, KitKat, which was unveiled yesterday.
Developers can take advantage of a new full-screen immersive mode, which enables apps and games to “use every pixel on the screen” to display content and capture touch events.
It also offers a new transitions framework, making it easier to create high-quality animations in apps, and there is a new implementation of WebView built on Chromium for web content.
Android 4.4 gains a printing framework, which enables the addition of print support to apps, and a storage access framework, which makes it easier for users to find documents, photos, and other data across local and cloud-based storage services.
Also on the spec sheet are low-power sensors, which allow developers to “add great new features to your apps without draining the battery”. Included are a step detector and step counter, which function when the screen is off.
The Android NFC support has also been updated, with Host Card Emulation to enable a device to emulate an NFC smart card without the need for a provisioned secure element. Apps can also use a new Reader Mode to act as readers for transactions.
Other new features include a screen recorder which enables the creation of high-quality videos of apps directly from Android devices.
Google said that as part of its Android KitKat efforts, it has worked to reduce the memory requirements of the platform, so that the latest version can run on a wider range of devices.
While high-end Android smartphones have migrated to the latest versions of the OS, there are still a wide range of low-cost devices using old incarnations of the platform – notably Android 2.3.
By reducing the amount of RAM needed to run Android KitKat, it is looking to address this and at the same time avoiding fragmentation in the ecosystem between high-end and low-cost products.
Developers can tune apps to meet the memory configuration of devices, for example by modifying or disabling large-memory features.
Google Play Services update
The company also announced a new release of Google Play Services.
For developers using Google’s AdMob to monetise apps, a new Mobile Ads SDK is said to “help provide seamless improvements” to users. Bug fixes get pushed automatically to users without the need for developer input.
It also sees the introduction of a new, anonymous indentifier for advertising purposes, to be used in place of the Android ID. Google Settings also enables users to reset this identifier, or opt-out of interest-based advertising for Google Play apps.
Apps enabled by Google+ Sign-In will also be updated with a simplified consent dialogue. Google Wallet Instant Buy APIs are now available to test within a sandbox, with a simplified API that is said to streamline buy-flow and reduce integration time.
The Maps and Geofencing APIs that launched previously have also been updated to improve battery efficiency and responsiveness.