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Android 4.4 KitKat to run "comfortably" on 512MB RAM devices, here's how

Posted: , by Chris P.

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Android 4.4 KitKat to run "comfortably" on 512MB RAM devices, here's how

The mere mention of Android 4.4 KitKat is getting dangerously close to inflicting a sense of deja vu, as day after day the new Google OS has been making headlines and going through the press like little else. And while there is a number of new features worth talking about, and even dissecting, the supposed memory optimizations that come with Android 4.4 are what's really buzzing. And it's no wonder, seeing as Google's head of Android, Sundar Pichai, promises that KitKat “can run comfortably on the 512MB of RAM devices that are popular in much of the world”. This is pretty important for the platform, as it means that Google may finally have the answer to what's referred to as 'fragmentation', or in other words: it may finally have the weapon to kill off the Gingerbread man.

All fine and dandy, but how?


Simple: with Project Svelte, the immediate successor of Project Butter that came with Jelly Bean with a similar aim, though far less concerned with the performance of truly low-end devices. 

But exactly what is Project Svelte? Well, for starters, Google has decoupled the Android core from the so-called Google Experience, and it's made both of these lighter. Android's memory footprint has been slimmed down by removing unessential background services and, simultaneously, the memory consumption of features that you can't really live without has been reduced. Moreover, the wide array of Google services, such as YouTube and Chrome, have also undergone a similar treatment, and should now prove just as powerful, but more slender. Further still, core system processes will now protect system memory from apps far more jealously, especially if those consume large amounts of RAM. And last, but not least, Android will now launch multiple services sequentially, instead of at once, with the aim of trimming peak memory demands, thus improving stability.

Still on the topic of optimizations, it's worth pointing out that Google won't be approaching this rather complex issue on its own, isntead, it's enlisting the help of manufacturers and developers both. To do so, Google has introduced a number of tools that will help the next gen of devices take advantage of optimizations such as zRAM swapping, kernel samepage merging and the ability to tune the cache of the Dalvik JIT code. Other tools include a new API that will allow developers to make their apps really flexible, by letting them tweak or completely disable high memory features, depending on the specific device, and it's relative memory. Additionally, devs will be able to take advantage of the new procstats and meminfo tools, along with a more widely supported RenderScript Compute (GPU accelaration), which has also seen some performance gains with Android 4.4 KitKat. According to the head Android engineer, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google's OEM partners have already gotten a heads-up about the changes:

We have briefed all of our manufacturing partners on this and they are all very excited about it," says Lockheimer. "They all want to ship the latest thing. It is not like they wanted to ship Gingerbread but they had to because that is what fit.

This means that...

KitKat may very well put an end to the Gingerbread menace


Android 4.4 KitKat to run "comfortably" on 512MB RAM devices, here's how
Having passed the 1 billion users milestone, Google is now obviously gearing for “the next 1 billion users”, or so a Google blogpost by Pichai would lead us to believe. Seeing as the high-end is becoming increasingly saturated, and Google is already accounting for giant piece of it, it's only natural that the company focuses its engineering efforts on solving a long-standing problem: most entry-level devices can't properly run anything past Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 3-year old OS. That's a pretty significant problem for Google, developers and OEMs all, with the former two looking to extend the reach of their latest services, and the latter simply trying to build more compelling products. According to Google's latest numbers, a little over 26% of all Android devices are still stuck on Gingerbread. That's over a quarter of a billion. Yikes!

Of course, whether Google actually manages to put an end to the Ginger man still remains to be seen, but we suspect that low-end devices touting the latest and greatest Android are still months away. Moreover, it'll be a few more years for existing devices to completely die out, as these are quite unlikely to receive a leapfrog update to KitKat. And yet we don't particularly see this as any less of an achievement (provided it delivers), and at least one key industry player is already gunning for the increasingly important lower end market.

This, above all, is the alleged Google dream – Android everywhere. It's hard to say whether that isn't ultimately a bad thing, but one thing is for certain – we're getting ever closer to having adequate and full-fledged smartphone experience at a fraction of the cost from just two years ago. And that's awesome.

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posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:05 8

1. MrJerry (Posts: 392; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)


Can anyone sum up with a few sentences?

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:08 43

3. sss_ddk (Posts: 61; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


1-Android uses less memory because developers reduced its core memory footprint
2-Android uses less memory because services have been decoupled from the Core thus allowing for lighter "Android"
3-Services are no longer launched in parallel but sequentially thus allowing for less PEAK memory usage
4-Low level tools for developers allowing better handling of cache, RAM memory pages, etc.

posted on 09 Nov 2013, 20:40 3

52. dilharo (Posts: 1; Member since: 09 Nov 2013)


KItKaT 4.4 Specs

1.Screen Recording
2.Tap to Pay {Google Wallet for everyone}
3.NFC emulation for non nfc devices
4.14% less memory usage
5.Minimum Ram required is 512mb
6.chrome, youtube takes 12%less memory
7.cloud printing from Gallery {Print your photos directly to ur home Printer}
8.Webview is Now Chromium
9.Google Home is the new Launcher
10.New 'Google Home' works only with Google Search app installed
11.Core System Processes Trimmed
12.Apps are efficient and responsive on all devices
13.The all new 'procstats tool details' memory use
14.Payments without needing Secure Elements
15.Printer manufacturers can use new APIs to develop their own print services
16.A new storage access framework allows browse all document storage providers.
17.ART runtime compile support along with dalvik VM {faster runtime}
18.Dalvik JIT code cache tuning, kernel samepage merging (KSM), swap to zRAM
19.Use less heap,Aggressively protect system memory from apps
20.When multiple services start at once —Android now launches the services serially
21.hardware sensor batching
22.Step Detector and Step Counter
23.shared SMS provider and new APIs
24.Full-screen Immersive mode
25.Transitions framework for animating scenes {animate changes to your UI on the fly}
26.Translucent system UI styling
27.Enhanced notification access
28.seamless change in resolution during media playback
29.Common Encryption for protected content
30.HTTP Live Streaming
31.Audio Tunneling to DSP dramatically improve battery life
32.Nexus 5 offers a total off-network audio playback time of up to 60 hours
33.Audio monitoring peak and RMS levels of any currently playing audio
34.Loudness enhancer increase the loudness of spoken content
35.Audio timestamps for improved AV sync
36.Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast
37.RenderScript Compute improves Ongoing performance
38.RenderScript in the Android NDK
39.GPU acceleration for any apps using render script
40.GLES2.0 SurfaceFlinger
41.New HWComposer 1.3 support for virtual displays
42.Bluetooth HID over GATT (HOGP) support
43.Bluetooth MAP support
44.built-in IR blasters, along with a new API and system service
46.Wi-Fi TDLS support seamless way to stream media in same wifi network
47.System-wide settings for closed captioning { appscan show captions}
48.SELinux (enforcing mode)
49.Improved cryptographic algorithms ECDSA
50.Designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before
51.Phone dialer got local business detection
52.Smart caller ID
53.SMS support for Hangout
54.Emoji support on Google keyboard
55.Redigned Quickoffice
56.100gb Google drive Storage Coming soon
57.Updated Google Apps
58.Faster smoother,brilliant google voice search
59.swipe left for Google now on Google Home
60.Full Screen AlbumArt on lockscreen
61.Best Android YET......Any Doubts?

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:24 16

9. noler (Posts: 164; Member since: 19 Aug 2013)


Android trying to be more like WP8.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:58 38

12. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


So optimisation is copying too lol come on, it's common sense to optimise software over time, no software stays the same forever, it's the natural progress of going forward. Is Android suppose to stay heavy and not try and make things more efficient?

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:59 8

13. Shatter (Posts: 1989; Member since: 29 May 2013)


Yes because they want it to work well on bad phones its copying...

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:03 9

18. Finalflash (Posts: 1581; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Lol no, they're trying to DE-bloat the OS, you must have confused the point of the article.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:14 12

20. protozeloz (Posts: 5371; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


And yet newer windows phone models look more and more like android in terms of hardware numbers

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:41

26. pixel8or (Posts: 37; Member since: 10 Jun 2010)


Yep, which has always seemed so back'ards... Windows running more efficiently than linux? I know it's not an apples to apples comparison, but just sayin.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:54 2

28. androiphone20 (Posts: 1399; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


omg, this got me laughing to tears

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:06 14

31. cripton805 (Posts: 913; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


False. The WP8 doesn't even do a quarter of what Android can do. Good luck with your live wallpapers, toggle switches, multitasking, multiple open windows, smart actions, oh wait. You don't any of that and more...

You have live tiles? Which is basically just a fancy menu that does the same thing as your app list. With a couple pictures or the weather.

The point is the OS has nothing amazing to do. Even though the $40 android phones are sometimes a little laggy, they are still doing more than the future 929. No brainer they are going to be slower with low end specs. At least the OS has focused on its high end phones always. Instead of the low end WP8 phones and leaving the high end WP8 phones with the same experience as its $100 phone.

You decide. Its either crappy features on the low end phones and high end phones with WP8 in order to run "smoothly".

Or have high end features that run "ok" on low end phones that are intended for high end phones with Android. Although, thats why Google is trying to fix this problem after going after IOS all these years.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:49 3

36. kashyap07 (Posts: 10; Member since: 10 Sep 2013)


Super +1 :)

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 13:22 1

45. bon24x7 (Posts: 203; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


Android is just running on top of a Java VM. As long as its not capable to run on its own, it wont be as optimized as a pure Linux based OSes like Meego or Tizen or even Jolla..Windows is way more optimized already than Android will ever be. Android went fast and built everything and now its working on fixing the foundations whereas Windows Phone built a better foundation first and now its working on its way up.

posted on 30 Jan 2014, 12:04

55. Tushar111 (Posts: 2; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)


what does a wallpaper do for you anyway..for your kind information windows phone is multitasking and more optimised..
And you are getting it wrong..Low end WP8 gives the same user experience as High end WP8..It doesn't mean WP8 is bad..u need to hav a good sense of humor..
What the hell do you mean by crappy features..You are jst jealous bcz WP8 has some great features..

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 12:24 2

43. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I think I have heard it all now....

A company trying to make its software more efficient, run better on lower end hardware...is copying...?

If thats the case....MS needs to copy itself more for its desktop OS's. And especially for Surface.... Does that still take up about 20GB of space?

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:05 5

30. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 3317; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Goal: Optimization and elimination of fragmentation.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:06 1

2. sss_ddk (Posts: 61; Member since: 05 Mar 2013)


Maybe the new replacement of Dalvik, ART, will show up in 4.5 Lemonade or something!

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:24 5

8. akki20892 (Posts: 3304; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Still we can't decide it will really smooth, let's wait for 512ram device run by android kitkat 4.4.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:59

14. LoveHater (Posts: 109; Member since: 09 Oct 2013)


no way if it would be skinned

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:13

34. cripton805 (Posts: 913; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


My old first gen Stratosphere was really smooth and it ran the most recent form of Gingerbread and it was paired with touchwiz.

I think they are aiming for the really low end stuff that will come out to battle out the Lumia 520 and 525.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:18 1

5. Boybawang (Posts: 35; Member since: 02 Jun 2013)


512MB RAM maybe enough at first but after installing fifty or so apps, a dozen of it will pile needlessly at autostart during bootup. Worse it that some will persist to load even after using a software to dissable them.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:21 5

7. PBXtech (Posts: 970; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


Android has auto-killed apps not running in order to free up RAM for years now. While I doubt you'd be able to play high end games with 512MB of RAM, your phone will still work for a multitude of applications so this is a win for many.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:00 2

15. Shatter (Posts: 1989; Member since: 29 May 2013)


If it has 512mb of ram odds are it doesn't have a good enough gpucpu for those games anyway.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 11:06

40. rabidhunter (Posts: 90; Member since: 05 Jul 2013)


You have to figure that a lot of people running devices with 512 MB devices are not power users. They are typically consumers that maybe playing Angry Birds and have a couple of productivity apps, and that's about it. My in-laws have a couple of low end devices, they don't do a whole lot with them other than text and make calls.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 07:51 13

11. ilia1986 (unregistered)


Android 4.4 kitkat: optimizes system performance, improves stability and makes sure that low end devices can run smoothly.

iOS 7: A buggy version, causing larger battery drain, massively degrading the performance of low-end devices.

Nuff said.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:26 1

23. NexusPhan (Posts: 409; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Users need choice. That's how industries innovate. That's how industries stay competitive. You need Apple to exist and you need people to use it. Even if you don't see it or like it. There is no reason to bash an OS in the way that you have.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:41 5

25. ilia1986 (unregistered)


Android IS choice. There is more than enough competition within Android as it is between different OEM software customization options. There is no actual need for an arrogant, close minded company like apple to have an enslaving ecosystem for innovation to exist.

I don't need apple to exist. I need apple to stop doing so.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 13:31

47. bon24x7 (Posts: 203; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


"Android is choice.." what's there to choose if Android is the only OS.? without competition it'll be a monopoly and that means Google does what they like, when they feel like doing instead of providing frequent updates like now. Don't be so closed minded and arrogant bro..

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 22:40

48. ilia1986 (unregistered)


One word: Samsung. It has it's own mini-ecosystem which competes with moat google apps.

posted on 07 Nov 2013, 00:34

49. bon24x7 (Posts: 203; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


Oh so now Samsung is better than Google and the rest..? smh
fanboys these days..!

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 18:56

53. 4.1.2 (Posts: 11; Member since: 30 Oct 2013)


It won't work. It will be worse then gingerbread....

posted on 30 Jan 2014, 12:07

56. Tushar111 (Posts: 2; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)


Android 4.4 has a lot of issues..go find on the internet..

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:04 3

19. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2495; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


I can't wait for Sony's KitKat!

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 11:08 1

41. rabidhunter (Posts: 90; Member since: 05 Jul 2013)


After Rockstar, I have given up interest in Sony. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:16 1

21. livyatan (Posts: 679; Member since: 19 Jun 2013)


This ends all.
Android for everyone, windows for professionals and enterprise.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:19 2

22. medicci37 (Posts: 615; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)


Well I'll never buy anything with only a half gig of ram(excepting chromecast) so I guess I'll never know how it performs on low end devices

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:37 2

24. ballaonnabudget (Posts: 34; Member since: 15 May 2013)


This is all great in theory. We'll see what happens when Sense 6.0 and Touchwiz get a hold of it on a 512 device.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 08:51

27. nav609 (Posts: 2; Member since: 06 Nov 2013)


samsung galaxy grand duos user will get kitkat?

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:07

32. wky1998 (Posts: 13; Member since: 22 Jul 2013)


If you can do that, I think more than 75% will receive android kkit kat

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:09 1

33. theizzz (Posts: 9; Member since: 01 Oct 2013)


I'd like to see KitKat run on a DX or something or that nature

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:17 1

35. xfire99 (Posts: 446; Member since: 14 Mar 2012)


Most important: Will all low end devices with 512MB RAM get 4.4 updates?
All OEMs have theirs own launcher implented, so it doesnt matter if 4.4 can run on devices with 512MB RAM, if OEMs launcher with bloatsware wont run smooth on 512MB devices and then its up to devs to port 4.4 to all 512MB RAM devices. But that need ROOT and not all can or willing to root, coz of might be warranty issues.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 12:27 2

44. saiki4116 (Posts: 336; Member since: 31 Mar 2011)


but most of the Indian Manufacturers or Manufacturers which rebrand devices made in china will almost run near stock Android.This is where googe are targetting not the Big Companies like Samsung,LG who have resources to create and load their BS bloated UI.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 09:52

37. Sadman_Hossain (Posts: 18; Member since: 01 Oct 2013)


Everything is fine but the OEM's won't update their devices because inorder to update the old devices from 2011 they will need to customize their version of the home launcher for each and every phone currently on gingerbread/ics. They aren't going to go through those hassle. If only Google made it compulsory or something.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 10:01

38. ktownsend3240 (Posts: 2; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


Why have I read that kitkat will be available to all devices but looked up Motorola plans which say some devices are staying on their current software of gingerbread or ICS. Like a Droid X or Bionic won't get kitkat, can someone explain why?

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 11:15

42. rabidhunter (Posts: 90; Member since: 05 Jul 2013)


I think the answer is that Motorola is focusing first on their most recent models, which is fair. People who upgraded to their newer phones should be the first to receive the update. When I looked up their update thread, I saw that there were plans for future updates. They didn't say that KitKat was ruled out.

It's probably a lot easier to update the DROID's and the Moto X first since they have the same architecture. And since KitKat was being developed at the same time as these phones, that could have something to do with it.

I know that Moto is doing some bug-fix updates on a lot of their older devices. So it means that those phones are not forgotten in the graveyard. Just that it may be some time before KitKat comes to them.

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 10:33

39. nav609 (Posts: 2; Member since: 06 Nov 2013)


guys will samsung galaxy grand duos get kitkat? any body can reply plz?

posted on 06 Nov 2013, 13:26

46. bigwavesurfer4 (Posts: 10; Member since: 13 Jun 2011)


HTC just tweeted me and told me that the HTC One X on ATnT will not get an update past 4.2.2 ....a flagship phone for AT&T which hasn't been updated in months. This is without a doubt frustrating that it won't even be updated to 4.3...especially since the international version has even received updates to the newest version of Sense! ...Sad day for One X owners...

posted on 07 Nov 2013, 19:14

50. 4.1.2 (Posts: 11; Member since: 30 Oct 2013)


Who ever thought that releasing gingerbread was a good needs to be shot...

posted on 09 Nov 2013, 00:54

51. andynaija (Posts: 455; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)


Okay I'm pretty sure that without Gingerbread, Kit-Kat wouldn't exist today... -_-

posted on 24 Nov 2013, 16:04

54. Hajdzik (Posts: 1; Member since: 24 Nov 2013)


That's pointless. The newest phones which are going to be released will probably have at least 1gb ram. So what of it that KitKat work smooth on 512 ram devices if the older phones (with 512mb) like, Xperia Neo V or even Huawei Y300 (6-year-old device) won't get KitKat update?

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