Android KitKat: a sweet innovation

by Diego Pierangeli on 03/28/2014

Google’s announcement of Android 4.4 in September 2013 interested me immediately. Considering the evolution in performance from 4.0 to 4.3, I couldn’t wait to find out what improvements we’d be able to bring to our applications.

Once the details leaked out, my curiosity instantly morphed into a itch to start developing on the new system. In fact, in addition to general improvements in performance, the chocolate droid’s new functionalities also include one we’ve been waiting for (since February 2012 to be precise), namely, the option to use Chrome instead of the native browser inside the applications.

This functionality was crucial. Native browser performance in previous versions was clearly inferior to that of its big brother from Google, and the boost to the JavaScript engine can’t help but make applications developed with InDe better and more fluid. Also, the new component offers us another functionality we’ve been waiting a long time for: Web Workers.

The first thing I had to do when I started testing mobile applications on the new WebView (the component that lets you integrate Chrome into native applications) was to edit the JavaScript code and graphical themes so that they would display as well as possible and be as fluid as possible.
The most complex problem I had to tackle from this standpoint concerns the keyboard. As strange as it may seem, achieving the behavior we wanted (that is, for the keyboard to open without covering the field that has focus, and possibly even moving it) wasn’t easy!

In addition to the display element, we were also able to improve the infrastructural part. In fact, using the Workers allowed us to have a single WebView directly manage both the JavaScript interface part as well as the JavaScript server part, with noticeable increases in performance, both in terms of the memory used and in terms of database access. Just try out the synchronization on an Android 4.3 and a 4.4 device to see the difference for yourself!

Once I finished all of this I was able to see the improvements compared to a mobile application on Android 4.3, and I also saw how many people mentioned it to me: the user experience is markedly better, in every aspect, to the point that it’s even comparable to the experience on iOS.

What do you say? Do you want to try out your apps on Android 4.4?

  •    I want to port all my apps to Android KitKat!
  •    I want to stay compatible with previous versions of Android 4.x.
  •    I have largely adopted Apple.
  •    I don't develop mobile apps.
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