Android 4.4 KitKat to reportedly focus on improving performance for low-memory hardware, better wearable support

We’re about to dive into a box of KitKats, as Google is likely planning to detail the new version of Android as early as Halloween.

And though we’ve seen plenty leaks of the Nexus 5, little is known about the next version of Android itself — other than its chocolate bar-related name, of course. Now, Amir Efrati of JessicaLessin.com has detailed a number of key upgrades to KitKat, based on a confidential document Google sent to its OEM partners.

In it, Google outlines key enhancements to low-memory devices such as entry-level handsets from Huawei, Samsung, ZTE and others. OEMs have traditionally been reticent to update older devices because there are performance considerations with newer versions of Android, especially as graphics acceleration becomes more ubiquitous throughout the OS. The other side of the coin is that, however easy Google makes it for OEMs to update, they’re still unlikely to spend the time, money and effort to do so, especially in the cheaper market.

KitKat is also purportedly optimized for wearables, which coincides nicely with the rumour that Google is readying a smartwatch for later this year or early 2014. KitKat is expected to support three new hardware sensors, according to Efrati: geomagnetic rotation vector, step detector and step counter. The latter two are important if you consider that many new devices are likely going to emulate the iPhone 5s in keeping track of users’ steps and elevation throughout the day.

Android 4.4 is also expected to improve NFC connectivity with certain types of hardware. That, and Bluetooth, are usually serviced by the OEMs themselves, leading to disparate and often incompatible executions of the same idea. This has lead to some wearable technology, like Fitbit’s line of health monitors, to have limited compatibility with Android hardware.

KitKat may also unify the IR stack for hardware manufacturers, bringing a uniform experience for virtual remote controls and other uses of infrared blasters.

We will likely know more in the coming days (or hours) so stay tuned!