Google hasn’t released a major new version of Android for more than a year now and has instead been content to make some minor adjustments and additions to the Jelly Bean iteration of its popular mobile platform. But it looks like Google is aiming big with Android 4.4 KitKat, according to a leaked document shown to reporter Amir Efrati. Writing at Jessica Lessin’s blog, Efrati reports that the next version of Android will look to expand its reach beyond smartphones and tablets by optimizing it for use in wearable computers and by adding features that will help it interact with televisions.
When it comes to wearables, Efrati notes that KitKat will add support for key sensors such as geomagnetic rotation vectors, step detectors and step counters that will be important for smartwatches that come preloaded with fitness apps. Support for such sensors could also give Google more accurate data when it comes to creating indoor maps and plotting walking directions for Google Maps.
As for Google’s plans for Android and TV, Efrati writes that “the next version of Android lets developers build apps that control TVs, tuners, switches and other devices by sending infrared signals.” Although companies such as Samsung and HTC have already built features into their smartphones that make them double as TV remotes, Efrati notes that Google wants developers to create Android TV apps that can work across multiple devices and aren’t just confined to one vendor.
And just in case you can’t get enough of Android 4.4 KitKat, Droid Life points us to a new series of leaked screen shots of the new OS build that were posted on Reddit this week. The most notable change to the OS’s default home screen is a search bar placed at the top that lets you do a search simply by saying “OK Google” into your device’s microphone. The leaked screen shots follow below.