Android KitKat 4.4 vs Jelly Bean 4.3
Some Android fans were no doubt disappointed to learn that the next full version of Google’s mobile operating system will still be part of the Jelly Bean era, with the 4.3 identifying tag applied to indicate that it is an incremental update rather than a complete revolution.
Many were hoping that Android 4.4 KitKat would be making an appearance this year, but it seems destined for a later date.
So what can users expect from the latest iteration of Jelly Bean and how should it compare with the Android KitKat features which have been rumoured for some time? Here is a quick look at what is known and what is speculated.
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Jelly Bean Vs KitKat
One of the key additions to Jelly Bean 4.3 is the availability of a fully customisable user experience, complete with app restrictions and parental controls, which can be applied across multiple users.
An earlier iteration of Jelly Bean made things a bit more flexible by allowing Android smartphones to support multiple accounts, but 4.3 means that parents can let their kids play with their phone without messing up settings or accessing content which they would not otherwise be able to on their own.
This level of control should persist in any subsequent versions of Android, although it would be nice if Google follows Apple in making its operating system a bit more secure, perhaps through the pursuit of fingerprint scanning technology.
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Android is a relatively efficient platform but there is always room for improvement. With Android 4.3 support for a low energy version of bluetooth is being implemented, which should help to boost battery life while still allowing users to connect peripherals.
For Android KitKat 4.4, it is hoped that the software will be able to take even more efficient advantage of the system resources that are available to it. In particular the use of RAM should be streamlined, allowing the software to run on the more basic Android handsets that are still widely popular at the lower end of the market.
Ideally Android 4.4 will still run on a handset even if it has just 512MB of RAM. In an age when top tier phones now have 2GB of RAM or more, catering to legacy devices in this way would be welcome.
Android’s prowess as a gaming platform has been enhanced with the launch of version 4.3 thanks to the support for Open GL ES 3.0 that it offers.
This essentially means that smoother gameplay and improved graphics should become available on a variety of devices, helping to give the platform the edge in the race towards photorealism in portable titles.
The gaming experience has also been unified to a certain extent thanks to the promise of better integration for Google Play features such as achievements and multiplayer.
This is good news but depending on your gaming preferences you could still argue that Windows Phone 8 has the upper hand in terms of the cohesion of its gaming thanks to Xbox Live.
If Android 4.4 can go some way towards amending this then it might make digital warriors happier. With a new iPhone potentially boasting a higher resolution screen later in the year, Android will also need to keep up with its rivals on the other side.
Those who own a Nexus-brand device like the Nexus 7 or Nexus 4 will already be able to download Android 4.3, because Google rolls out its updates to its own devices as quickly as possible after launch.
The same approach will doubtlessly be taken with Android KitKat 4.4, although its actual arrival date is now completely up in the air.
Some sources maintain that it will hit the market before the end of the year, but this seems unlikely given the recent arrival of 4.3. Instead a 2014 launch is the safer bet, which should give Google plenty of time to bake in a few fresh features to this tasty dish.
Of course the continued strategy of updating Android with new iterations on a regular basis might be seen as perpetuating the fragmentation of this platform in a way that does not impact rivals like iOS.
But then the more open nature of Android has been one of the chief benefits for tech fans the world over, so perhaps those in the know will be more willing to accept the staggered nature of its unfurling and appreciate Android 4.3 in full while looking forwards to version 4.4 next year