Google didn’t give Android 4.4 KitKat native support for 64-bit hardware like Apple did with iOS 7, but that isn’t stopping Intel from taking matters into its own hands. Per CNET, Intel this week released a modified version of KitKat that comes with a 64-bit kernel, which means that it will be compatible with 64-bit Intel processors for mobile devices. To make this happen, Intel said that it “ported, validated and tested the Android Open Source code on IA, taking on the work that developers typically would need to do on their own” so that it could help “provide the ecosystem with 64-bit kernel support for development of next-generation devices.”
While Google will likely add its own 64-bit kernel to its next major Android release, Intel’s modification is still welcome news for any manufacturers who want to get a head start on their competitors by cranking out 64-bit Android devices right now. For the uninitiated, chips with more bits can handle more memory, which means that a 32-bit chip is designed to handle memory addresses of up to 32 bits while a 64-bit chip is designed to handle memory addresses of up to 64 bits. This is going to become more important as smartphone hardware keeps improving and we eventually start to see devices with 4GB of RAM come to market.