A much-requested Android feature for some time now has been infrared support, with the likes of Samsung, LG, and HTC all outpacing Google to enable the technology on their devices. As such, a fragmented API ecosystem has emerged, and now Google's here to set things straight - or so it would seem at first glance.

Android's new IR blaster support only supports one real action: transmitting an IR signal. It does this with a new API and system service that any app can take advantage of on IR-equipped devices running Android 4.4 or higher. So that's good. Unfortunately, it seems Google missed a rather important part of the IR equation, at least according to the developer of Smart IR Remote.

Specifically, the feature does not allow for Android to receive IR signals - only send them. This means that things like learning, recording, or 2-way IR communication still cannot be achieved using the core Android OS. Major bummer. It's unclear why Google chose only to implement a send protocol, but my guess would be, as Android developers have oft-said, that there just wasn't time to do it. Android is developed by a fairly small team, and as such, some features simply can't be pursued to the extent they'd like.

Still, at least some form of IR support is now built into Android, which is certainly better than none.

Be sure to check out more of our KitKat feature spotlights as they come down the pike this afternoon, we aren't done yet!

Android Developers