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.
Hardware and memory changes
On the hardware side of things, a new SMS provider will make it easier for developers to read incoming SMS messaging, while also restricting the sending of those messages to a single default application. This will allow developers to integrate polling for incoming SMS messages into their applications.
KitKat also includes the ability to batch sensor data rather than receiving a constantly updating stream. The result is that applications can now check sensor data every 30 seconds or minute, saving power and processing time by no longer requiring a constant connection to the sensors to read data.
KitKat will also include support for detecting and using infrared ports on phones and tablets, as well the ability to read and emulate NFC cards.
But despite these new APIs, one of the biggest changes to Android 4.4 doesn’t involve a new API at all. Instead, a major focus for it has been slimming down memory usage by the OS. The project, codenamed “Svelte,” has resulted in the compression of Android’s memory usage to a level that can function on devices with only 512MB of RAM.
Of course, said Meier, the Google team couldn’t optimize all that RAM usage without adding memory usage-monitoring tools. In addition to a new memory-profiling tool that will be integrated under the developer options in new phones like the Nexus 5, there is an added ability to check RAM usage within a running application. This means developers can poll the device their application is running on, and upon finding that it has a restrictive amount of memory, can turn off specific functionality.
A word of advice
In his closing remarks, Meier admonished developers to take the time to tackle those difficult tasks they tend to put off. He said that the way to make money and gain a following in the Play Store is to innovate, be first to support new features, and to take the extra time to polish your application.
As a developer, Meier said he tends to see two kinds of tasks in his schedule: those tasks that take less than 30 minutes, and those that take “forever.” But he went on to state that those “forever” tasks are where the big changes and innovative features for your application tend to live. Instead of tackling those bigger problems, however, he said developers love to push those to the bottom of the list in favor of finishing lots of smaller, simpler tasks.