Yesterday Google rocked the Internet by announcing its next version of Android (4.4) would be changed from it's generic dessert name Key Lime Pie to Kit Kat. Yes, the candy bar with 4 sticks of chocolate that cover 3 layers of wafers. Wait...4 sticks, 4 layers....4.4. Sure that's a cute coincidence but I think there may be an even deeper meaning to why Google decided to link their mobile OS to a candy bar. Beyond the obvious marketing benefit of having Android plastered over 50 million candy wrappers, what Google says about the focus of Android 4.4 seems more interesting.
"It's our goal with Android Kit Kat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody." - Google
Since the beginning, Google has had a problem with getting updates of Android out to phones in a timely manner. One reason is because they never established the type of leverage over the carriers like Apple did with the iPhone. The other major factor was due to Samsung, HTC, LG and other manufacturers have custom software on top of stock Android that they have to test before sending updates to customers. To overcome that obstacle, Google announced Google Play Services that allows them to add features individually to apps via the store. Updating key Google services like Maps, Gmail, Search, YouTube, etc. provides new features to older devices who may still be on a version of Android that is years out of date. The down side to this work around is that it doesn't allow for new system-wide API's to be added for developers to take advantage of. Which is why certain apps still require Android 4.0 or higher to be able to use, hence the "fragmentation" argument living on, for now at least.
However Android 4.4 could bring a way to further update key elements of the OS via Google Play Services. Google saying the goal of Kit Kat is to make amazing Android experiences to everyone seems to hint this could be a possibility. There has also been talk of 4.4 optimizing Android to run better on more modest, lower-end hardware. It would definitely tie into the 4 pieces of the (4 layered) Kit Kat bar that can be broken apart. Just a thought.