In the run up to KitKat we’d heard that Google was looking to support low-end devices, but now we have confirmation that this was the master plan all along, and will be a biggy for Google in eliminating the problem of Android fragmentation.Earlier this week Google revealed the driving force behind the Android 4.4 Kitkat release and its name is ‘Project Svelte’. We take a look at what this curiously named initiative is, how it was developed and whether – as some are claiming – it could lead to the end of fragmentation on Android.
For Google, Android 4.4 KitKat was all about getting rid of the excess bulge and having the OS running on as many devices as possible.The Android 4.4 KitKat “Project Svelte” could be Google’s first step towards fixing Android OS fragmentation.As revealed in an interview ,It Was Enacted to ensure that Andorid 4.4 Kitkat could run on devices with just 512 MB of RAM.
What is Kitkat Project Svelte?
The key is in the name.Svelte (adjective): Slender and elegant
Svelte is Google’s attempt to cut the fat from Android allowing it to run faster and more smoothly on lower range handsets. It comes after Google’s admission that initiatives like ‘Project Butter’ (introduced in Android 4.1) Project Butter in Android 4.1 was all about providing a more elegant, crash-free experience, though it wasn’t so focused on reducing system demand whose result made the operating system a silky user experience, but at the expense of upping the hardware requirements significantly.
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“The first thing that I was working on was Project Butter to make the system smoother,” explained Google Head of Engineering Dave Burke in an interview with ReadWrite. “The thing is, butter puts on weight. So then I did Project Svelte to lose weight. So now my contribution to Android is basically zero.”
It is a good joke, but Kitkat Project Svelte addresses a serious problem for Google. Android 3.0 was purely for tablets, so entry-level Android handsets incapable of running Android 4.x were being forced to install the aged Android 2.3 operating system to maintain a reasonably responsive user experience. The three-year old platform did a job, but it also locked owners of these phones out of newer features and an increasing number of apps that require Android 4.0 and above.
How was Kitkat Project Svelte made?
Google is famous for ‘dogfooding’ – that is making its employees use and live with their own projects. It was no different with Project Svelte.
“The goal of Kitkat Project Svelte was basically to reduce the memory footprint to fit into 512MB. The way we did it, by the way – which we didn’t talk about – was to take a Nexus 4 and adapt it to run at 512MB”, explained Burke.
“We adapted the resolution to qHD that is 960 x 540p because that is kind of the sweet spot for entry level smartphones. We reduced it from four CPUs to two CPUs. We reduced the clock frequency and whatnot. And literally a bunch of us just used that as our default phone. It was painful, and it was broken to start with.”
As Bruke told In the interview the Main Goals for the Kitkat Project Svelte were:-
- Reduce the footprint of the system.
- Reduce the footprint (memory usage) of the apps that run on a Google Experience (Nexus) device.
- Fix how apps react and crash during bad memory situations.
- Provide better measurement and instrumentation of how apps are running in Android so developers can see how memory-conscious their apps are
The Kitkat Project Svelte team Solve this by trying following Methods
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- By stripping Google apps from the OS (even including the Google Play store), which drastically reduced their memory usage.
- This also allowed KitKat to be even more customisable as previously locked functionality like SMS messaging could now be swapped like any other app for a third-party alternative.
- Svelte also placed a strong emphasis on cutting RAM usage in third-party apps by giving developers access to ‘ProcStats’ – a tool that monitors app memory usage.
- Android also now tracks app memory usage and will shut down an app if it is using too much memory for too long so the incentive to make more efficient apps is strong
- Android will also launch concurrent services in sequence instead of all at once to prevent slowdown. Imagine it as cleaning out the Startup folder in Windows, except that it’s all happening behind the scenes
- Developers also have access to the newActivityManager.isLowRamDevice API, allowing memory-hogging features to be enabled and disabled as needed.[/sws_ul_ui_item]
So Will KitKat’s Project Svelte Bring a End To Android Biggest Problem?
With all these benefits the notion has spread that Kitkat Project Svelte is Google’s Best Shot to fix Android fragmentation and on the face of it there are compelling arguments to back this up:
- The vast majority of Android phones can now run the latest OS
- Manufacturers know a budget Android phone with the latest Android OS is a compelling sales proposition
- Customers will vote with their wallets which should see Android 4.4 budget phones very soon
And it is not over yet.Customers will get a updated Google Play Services
What is Google Play Services? Our detailed analysis(available shortly) will tell you more, but in a nutshell it is a background service with near limitless levels of access to modify your phone. It already has permission to do the list of things (spread over two screens!) pictured below and, quite remarkably, it can even give itself new permissions at any time.
Privacy conspirators heads may explode, but the point is Google Play Services on Android 4.x devices is the tool that can update virtually every part of the platform. It keeps 99 per cent of functionality bang up-to-date even if the Android version number changes in future. This sounds pretty good to us.
Where Kitkat Project Svelte will End up Short??
- Manufacturer’s third-party skins(Dont Know what This is)
- Battery life
- Yes, Android version numbers
The first of these is something that has plagued Android since day one: the largely inefficient graphical overlays handset makers put on top of Android to differentiate their handsets. which Have Significant Impact on performance of Android Smartphone(YES IT IS TRUE !)
Given Motorola recently claimed its predominantly stock Android £135 Moto G (right) could perform basic tasks in Android 4.3 faster than Samsung’s TouchWiz inflicted £500 Galaxy S4, it gives you an insight into how troublesome these skins can be.
In a stroke skins could wipe out much of the efficiencies gained in Android 4.4. Worst still it could give manufacturers the leeway to may even lazier skins.
Next comes battery life because, for all its advances, surprisingly Android 4.4 doesn’t appear to have improved it a great deal. A key criticism of Android 4.4 hero device the Nexus 5 is its inconsistent battery life and Nexus 4 owners haven’t reported any significant gains from the 4.4 upgrade with better jumps actually coming from the previous upgrade from Android 4.2 to 4.3.
Crucially battery capacity remains a significant manufacturing cost, So that why Android 2.3 is frugal and when making budget handsets cutting corners wherever possible is crucial.
Lastly we have Android version numbers because Kitkat Project Svelte isn’t going to magically make older devices compatible with 4.4 – even Google’s own Galaxy Nexus (with 1GB of RAM) isn’t getting an official update, likely because of the aging OMAP SoC. while Google Play Services can update most things on your phone, it cannot trigger automatic upgrades from Android 4.4 to 4.5, 5.0 or wherever the OS is headed next.
Furthermore, Google needs to set a better example to manufacturers. It excluded the two-year old Galaxy Nexus from the Android 4.4 update, even though the point of KitKat is it runs better on older and budget phones. Apple meanwhile only excluded its five generations old iPhone 3GS from iOS 7 this year. If Google doesn’t convey the message it actively cares to fix fragmentation on its own branded handsets, what hope has it of convincing others?
Why you should care about Kitkat Project Svelte ??
So Kitkat Project Svelte isn’t the answer to Android’s fragmentation on its own, but there are still plenty of reasons why you should care about it. It’s yet another example of Google slowly but surely attacking Android’s key weaknesses. this will hopefully help devices like the original Nexus 7 and Nexus 4, not to mention upcoming low-end phones that will launch with 4.4, to better handle resources as apps become more hardware intensive Project Butter dealt with responsiveness, Kitkat Project Svelte brings those optimisations to more limited phones. The result is phones like the Motorola Moto G, which wouldn’t be nearly so good were it not for Android’s newfound lightness.