Reto Meier, developer relations tech lead at Google, took the stage today at Android Developer Conference, giving a keynote detailing the changes in Android 4.4 KitKat. In it, he discussed many of the new APIs designed to ease development work.

(AnDevCon is produced by BZ Media, the parent company of SD Times.)

The many new APIs in Android 4.4, said Meier, fall into three categories: those that help with design, those that help with efficiency, and those that help with innovation. Under the design category, he discussed the new immersive full-screen experience.

Invoked with the new View.SYSTEM_UI_FLAG_IMMERSIVE command, this feature allows developers to hide all of the Android OS items, such as the status bar and clock. An additional form of the command with STICKY appended to the end allows this experience to be extended even further, blocking out the rest of the Android experience unless the user explicitly asks to leave the application.

(What else is in KitKat)

The result will be that e-book readers, videogames and video players can now take over the entire screen, allowing for a much more immersive experience.

Moving between screens in those applications will be much prettier, said Meier, thanks to the new Transitions API. The new Scenes and Transitions API, said Meier, “is going to help you create dynamic, high-quality animations in your application. It’s pretty common to use animations to shift user focus on the screen, and the new transitions framework lets you define scenes. You’re able to have the system do smooth transitions from one scene to another scene.” Provided that the layout elements in the two scenes use the same IDs, he said, “the system will figure out how to” animate transitions automatically.

Deaf users will be able to use a system-wide closed-captioning API. Aside from allowing applications to use closed captions, it also eases the implementation of closed-captioning systems into things like video players and games. Existing applications will be able to easily pass a VTT-formatted closed-captioning file into their data stream.

Other APIs allow developers to have access to new capabilities within Android. The new Storage Access Framework provides a unified windowing system for both browsing files within Android and within an application, such as when opening a document with an application.

Meier said that developers will also be able to use the new storage API to add external storage systems to their applications. That means developers can define access to a cloud storage system, and then allow users to treat that remote storage as if it were attached to the device like a network share or an external storage medium. He said that defining such an external storage system requires only four overrides in the code.

About Alex Handy