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Android 4.4 aims at budget phones

Google officially announces the next Android and the Nexus 5

Google has officially announced Android 4.4, code-named KitKat. The new operating system streamlines some existing Android features and makes it more friendly to budget phones with smaller amounts of memory.

"Until now, some lower-end Android phones couldn't benefit from more recent Android releases due to memory constraints," wrote Google Android boss Sundar Pichai. "With KitKat, 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. RAM (or memory) is one of the most expensive parts of a phone, and now 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."

The new operating system adds an improved Phone app, buttonless voice recognition for voice search, navigation controls that hide when not in use, and a new caller ID powered by search. In addition, Google is trying to improve Android's work capabilities with direct support for cloud-based storage services, cloud printing, and a redesigned QuickOffice.

Google also announced its next flagship phone, the Nexus 5. The new Nexus phone sports a 5-inch 1920x1080 display powered by a 2.3 GHz Snapdragon processor and 2 GB of RAM. The device is currently available unlocked on Google Play in two models: 16GB for $349 and 32GB for $399. Google says the phone will also be available from Sprint, T-Mobile, Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack in the future.

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Latest comments (6)

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd3 years ago
Google's practice of offering unlocked top-end phones for just $350 is awesomely disruptive. People who seek the immediate gratification of that contract reduced price are paying FAR more for the same features as those buying into Google's no-contract strategy. When my contract is up I will not be signing a new one. I know this is more of an American problem than a European one, but we're abused by carriers over here.
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 3 years ago
Trust me. We get equally abused via expensive contracts in the UK too :)
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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve3 years ago
If I didn't have a Nexus 4 or had plenty of cash to throw around I'd be jumping on the Nexus 5, it's very interesting to see what Google are doing with their flagship devices, they're amazingly good value and are certainly shaking up the Android market.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 3 years ago
Next year's upgrade on this will probably be twice the power and will probably be the replacement for my HTC One.
I am very happy indeed with my Nexus 7.
These Google devices certainly make some fruit themed competitors seem ridiculously expensive. Which is presumably what Google are aiming at.
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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 3 years ago
I've heard rumours that next year's model will be indistinguishable from a real human being.
If they can manage that for $350, I'll be impressed.
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
Google's strategy seems quite clear really, they're creating a low cost piece of reference hardware which really helps boost the Android brand and sets an example to manufacturer's worldwide about the standards we should expect.

I'm mostly interested in the OS here. Looks like more than just a minor upgrade if they've managed to lower the memory footprint so much. I'd rather see the software become more efficient before the hardware needs to double the RAM. I don't feel the benefit on my Xperia tablet so hopefully, upgrades like this will make much better use of the memory.

Ouya is pretty fast as it is but it would be interesting to see how 4.4 could benefit that system too.
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