Dubbed “KitKat” the new version of Android will be able to run on inexpensive, low-end smartphones as well as the most advanced devices.
Sundar Pichai, Google Senior Vice President of Android, Chrome and Apps said at a press event in San Francisco that it is possible to have one version of the operating system which will run across all versions of Android smartphones.
This means that smartphones which are sold in “emerging markets” can run the newer software.
As far as Google is concerned this means that more users have access to the growing selection of profitable online services. It will also answer those third-party app developers, who have been frustrated by what they call the “fragmented” nature of Android.
More than a third of Android smartphones in operation as of October 2 feature the “Gingerbread” version of the operating system which was introduced in December 2010.
This uses an elderly Web browser and does not support Google Now, a sort of personal digital assistant technology that automatically provides relevant information about a person’s calendar, weather and travel plans.
The new KitKat version of Android integrates Google search technology directly into the phone in various ways. The phone’s contact list allows people to find phone numbers of their personal acquaintances as well as of local businesses, such as restaurants and dry cleaners.
The first device to feature the KitKat software will be the Nexus 5 phone built by LG, and will be available in 10 countries without a contract for $349.