By now you've probably heard about ART and how it will improve the speed and performance of Android, but how does it actually perform today? The new Android Runtime promises to cut out a substantial amount of overhead by losing the baggage imposed by Dalvik, which sounds great, but it's still far from mature and hasn't been seriously optimized yet. I took to running a battery of benchmarks against it to find out if the new runtime could really deliver on these high expectations.
Did you know it's possible to unlock your Nexus 5 bootloader without wiping user data? If your device has already been rooted and relocked for optimal security, then unlocking is just a button tap away thanks to the latest update to BootUnlocker. Support for Google's latest flagship phone was just added with an update to version 1.4 of the app from XDA member segv11. Sadly, both generations of the Nexus 7 from ASUS remain unsupported.
It's fair to say that Android went through some chaotic years in the beginning. The pace of development was frantic as the operating system grew at an unprecedented rate. An as-yet undetermined future led to decisions that were made to conform to existing hardware and architectures, the available development tools, and the basic need to ship working code on tight deadlines. Now that the OS has matured, the Android team has been giving more attention to some of the components that haven't aged quite as well.
Advertising revenue is a huge part of doing business in the mobile apps space for a large number of developers. As such, from that practice have emerged methods to send advertisers information about you to better serve appropriate ads. Oftentimes, the way your advertising "profile" is specifically identified is less than ideal from a security standpoint. Many apps use your phone's IMEI - a potentially personally-identifying number - as your advertising identification number because every modern smartphone has one.
Next in the line of KitKat feature spotlights is the addition of new motion-oriented UX elements meant to give users a dynamic, fluid experience while making it easier for developers to implement high quality animations.
Android 4.4's new transitions framework allows developers to define scenes and transitions. A scene is usually a view hierarchy, while a transition defines how the scene should transform when a user enters or exits it. Developers can use predefined transition types, an auto-transition type, or create custom transitions "that animate the properties that matter most to your app."
That said, developers don't actually have to define scenes to animate UI changes - they can also animate pieces on the fly.
Yet another facet of KitKat worth pointing out today is the addition of new security enhancements to the OS. Security is one area that's frequently sensationalized with Android - it seems that every few days a scare story about Android malware creeps onto my Google News page. Google's eliminating security arguments (and possible arguments) one at a time, though, and has made a few key enhancements this time around.
First among them is a change to SELinux.
If you've got (a lot of) spare time on your hands this evening and a burning desire to know literally everything new in AOSP with Android 4.4 KitKat, Funky Android has done the work for you, providing a complete, comprehensive log of all commits made from 4.3_r2.1 (JSS15J) all the way up to 4.4_r1 (KRT16M).
The list is extremely lengthy, but includes handy links to Google's Android Source site where you can find more info about each commit.
Hot on the heels of its release, the Nexus 5's factory image and drivers (including those from Qualcomm) have already been posted. As usual, the Nexus 5's newly uploaded assets are right in line with the rest of the Nexus family, though no other members of the family have gotten a 4.4 update just yet. Those developers or enthusiasts who want something to play with can hit the appropriate link below to grab the image and/or drivers.
After announcing KitKat and the Nexus 5 earlier today, and releasing the Android 4.4 SDK, tools, and other related goodies, Google has moved on to the next important step - source code. As announced on the Android Building forum, Android 4.4 is now trickling in, bit by bit, into the AOSP repos. If all goes well, we can expect it to complete within several hours.
Update: The source push is 100% complete.