Android's next version will be named Android KitKat, displacing months of rumors about a supposed Android Key Lime Pie version. What's perhaps more interesting for users is that the next version of the Android mobile operating system is being numbered 4.4, and not 5.0 as also long rumored, meaning that it is perhaps an evolutionary release rather than a revolutionary version.
The new name and version number were unveiled in a Sept. 3 post on the Android Google+ page.
"Yep, our upcoming release will be named Android KitKat!" states the post. "KitKat has been a favorite candy on the team for some time, so for the K release, we asked if [The Hershey Co., maker of KitKat and other candy confections, would] be willing to lend their iconic candy bar to its name. Be on the lookout for limited edition Android KitKat bars coming soon to a candy aisle near you. For a lucky few, your KitKat bar might contain a winning ticket for a new Nexus 7 tablet or Google Play credits."
The promotional contest that will include surprise winning tickets in some KitKat bars will begin on Sept. 6, according to Hershey.
Users have been waiting for the next version of Android since Android 4.1 Jelly Bean debuted in July 2012 on various devices. The 4.1 final release came just a few weeks after its big splash in late June 2012 at Google's I/O Developers Conference.
Google declined a request from eWEEK to discuss the name change in more detail.
Users, however, posted a variety of comments on the Android Google+ page after hearing of the new KitKat name.
"Makes sense," wrote Derek Chiazza. "Google is an advertising company after all. Why not make a few extra bucks from name branding?"
Matthew Castro wrote that he felt like he is in a Willy Wonka movie. "I want the golden ticket! Free Nexus! Free stuff! I'm going to be on the lookout for KitKats now."
Another user, Alex Masters, took on at least one critic who called the name an odd choice. "Nah, this is a brilliant choice," wrote Masters. "Think of all the potential for advertising and exposure of the Android brand to a wider audience. This is a great idea!"
Mohammed AlYousef wrote that "KitKat just became my favorite chocolate of the year."
Others had their own criticisms.
"Hopefully works better than 4.3," wrote user Aaron Ferguson.
Dave Hart was more concerned about his health. "Oh great," he wrote. "There go my teeth ..."
David Bruyere of Canada isn't concerned about the next name, he wrote. "I don't care if it's called Kiki. Just give us Canadians Google Play music to buy music," he wrote, addressing an ability to purchase music in his country.
Thomas Howard was pretty dismissive of the name choice. "This is the stupidest thing I've seen in a long time," he wrote.
Paul Morris wrote that the name choice is "code for 'we can't make 5.0 work yet so here's another minor update till we get something new."
Others joked about future potential Android name choices, which have always been named for desserts in the past.
"I can't wait to get the 4.6 LifeSavers by Wrigley" version, wrote Guillermo Valdez Ramirez.
Scott Watson, however, thinks that KitKat is just the right choice. "Actually, this is a better name," he wrote. "Key Lime Pie would have been very USA-centric. KitKats are eaten all over the potential market, not just the 4 percent who Google usually targets."
Alaa Hallaq agreed. "MUCH better than Key Lime Blah," wrote Hallaq.
An interim Version 4.3 of Android followed the original 4.1 release this past July, which included new developer features, including restricted profiles, Bluetooth Smart Support and improved 3D graphics. Android 4.3 was described by Google as a sweeter version of Jelly Bean. Android 4.3 included new APIs and capabilities for developers to incorporate into their Android apps. One of the key new tools was OpenGL ES 3.0, which allows game developers to take advantage of OpenGL ES 3.0 and EGL extensions as standard features of Android, with access from either framework or native APIs. Also added were Bluetooth Smart capabilities, which will allow apps to communicate with the many types of low-power Bluetooth Smart devices and sensors that are now available.
Other new developer tools include the availability of restricted profiles, which allow tablet owners to create restricted profiles to limit access to apps for family, friends, kiosks and more. Using the tools, developers will now be able to offer various types of restrictions to let tablet owners control its capabilities in each profile.