updated 05:50 am EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Low specification requirements to help fight fragmentation
Android KitKat will be attempting to fight the platform's fragmentation issues by being usable on older and lower-powered devices, according to an alleged confidential document. Android 4.4 will apparently be useable on "entry-level devices" and "optimizes memory use in every major component," making it suitable for tablets and smartphones with as little as 512MB of RAM, something that has been previously rumored.
The future operating system release will also favor the recent trend for wearable devices, according to JessicaLessin.com, with the document outlining support for three new types of sensor. The geomagnetic rotation vector, step detector, and step counter support will allow it to work with fitness monitoring devices and smart watches, along the lines of the Fitbit Force, with the added support likely to encourage manufacturers to work on similar devices. It is also thought that measuring distances by direction and steps could help Google improve indoor positioning on the smartphone itself, rather than relying on any more electronic equipment at a location.
NFC will be expanded in KitKat, with the software letting developers emulate physical cards without needing to use the carrier-controlled "secure element" of smartphones. Though this will help foster development in applications using the technology, the data typically stored in the secure element would be stored elsewhere on the device, potentially leaving it in a position where data could be more-easily stolen.
A more standardized method of using a smartphone as an infrared remote control and improved Bluetooth support is also touted in the document.