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Android's Development Path in 2013

The Android operating system is found on 51.2 percent of smartphones sold today, giving it a market majority over iOS, Windows 8 and BlackBerry, according to Time Magazine. Android’s clean interface, growing app store and extensive hardware support has led to its great popularity. Google remains on top of developing Android into bigger and better things, starting off this year with Android 4.2.2, and gearing up to release 4.4 KitKat. If there’s one thing that can be said about Google it’s that they’re dedicated to the Android OS, and they certainly aren’t resting on their laurels.

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Android 4.2.2 Jellybean

This year’s Android development started off in February, with the release of Jellybean 4.2.2. Some of the improvements include better Bluetooth audio streaming, quick-toggling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth availability, new sounds and notification noises, gallery app animations that allow the app to load faster and the features that made the base Jellybean 4.2 so popular.

Additional features included in Jellybean 4.2 are Daydream screensavers, which are screensavers that provide you with plenty of information, notification quick settings, SELinux, identical layouts throughout all devices running Jellybean, and extended notification options.

Android 4.3 Jellybean

Jellybean 4.3 continued to build upon the foundation Jellybean 4.2 brought to the table. OpenGL ES 3.0 support was a particularly exciting feature, as it improves game graphics support. IOS is a more popular platform for games, especially bigger budget smartphone games, so having better developer and graphics support through OpenGL is important to the viability of the Android platform.

While Jellybean 4.2 introduced multiple user profiles, Jellybean 4.3 allows you to greatly restrict system access with newly added profiles. This security measure makes it easy to share a phone with your kids without worrying that they’re going to install more apps than you know what to do with. This update also adds in a new camera UI, Photosphere improvements, five additional languages, DRM APIs, geofencing APIs, improvements to the file system so it writes more quickly, and fixes to the Phone app. One particularly interesting feature is 4K support, which refers to UltraHD televisions and displays.

High-end smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 come with Jellybean 4.3 or have updates available to take it to 4.2. It takes advantage of T-mobile’s 4G coverage to download over-the-air updates without missing a beat.

Android 4.4 KitKat

Android Police found Google may have accidentally uploaded a screenshot showing off 4.4 Kitkat to one of their app updates. The GUI has changed slightly, switching to a gray clock and gray icons. While there have only been a few small leaks with KitKat views, it is assumed Google is looking at overhauling the GUI. Given Apple’s iOS 7 introduced a cleaner and more modern look, it’s likely Google is going to follow suit.

Not much is known about KitKat, but with the vast improvements Google has made to Jellybean this year, they are sure to have a great deal of usability, functionality and performance enhancements for Android OS.

Daniel has a background in Web design and development and loves to share his expertise.

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