| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Oct 31 Google Inc on
Thursday unveiled the newest version of its Android smartphone
software, aiming to allow more smartphone users access to its
evolving menu of online services such as driving directions
The new "KitKat" 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 on
"Now you have one version of the operating system which will
run across all versions of Android smartphones," Pichai said,
noting that smartphones sold in "emerging markets" often come
loaded with older versions of Android, that lack many key
features and capabilities.
The move could help Google ensure that more users have
access to the growing selection of profitable online services.
It also could make the Android software more attractive to
third-party app developers, who have been frustrated by what
they call the "fragmented" nature of Android devices.
Google's Android software runs on 80 percent of the world's
smartphones, according to industry analysts. But many of the
Android devices sold use older versions of the software, which
are not compatible with many new features.
Many developers still build apps intended for Apple Inc's
iPhone and iPad first, said BGC Partners analyst Colin
"You want your users to be using your services, and KitKat
will help foster that," said Gillis.
Roughly 29 percent of the Android smartphones in operation
as of Oct. 2 feature the "Gingerbread" version of the operating
system. Introduced in December 2010, that version of Android
relies on an older Web browser and does not support Google Now,
a sort of personal digital assistant technology that
automatically provides relevant information about a user's
personal 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 users to find phone numbers of their
personal acquaintances as well as of local businesses, such as
restaurants and dry cleaners.
Google also showed off a new feature that will allow
smartphone users to find information by searching pages on the
Web as well as information within the apps they have loaded on
their phones. A search for a particular chocolate cookie recipe,
for example, could yield results from a cooking app.
Google also showed off the new Nexus 5 smartphone which will
be the first device to feature the KitKat software. The phone,
built by LG, will be available in 10 countries starting Thursday
without a contract for $349.