The Android operating system has matured. The engineers that build Android at Google believe that they have achieved what they call “feature parity” with the other top mobile operating systems (chiefly, Apple’s iOS), so that Android can compete at top-line functionality against anybody.

With parity achieved, Google turned its efforts in Android to other aspects of the operating system in the last couple of years to make it better. First, Google focused on the performance of Android for the Jelly Bean 4.1 release of the OS in an operation it called “Project Butter.” The effort was to make Android faster and more reliable, while being less prone to crashes. Having achieved this goal, Google turned its attention to making the memory footprint of Android smaller while retaining that top-end functionality. This was called “Project Svelte” and the results were released in the latest version of Android, version 4.4 KitKat.

“We were kind of joking that when I started the first thing that I was working on was Project Butter to make the system smoother. 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,” said Dave Burke, the head of engineering for Android at Google in an interview with ReadWrite.

Project Svelte was Google’s effort to make the newest hardware features and design of Android work on just about any phone built by manufacturers. Android KitKat can run on devices with as little as 512 MB of RAM and it is Google’s shot at eliminating new Android smartphones built with old versions of the operating system, especially version 2.3 Gingerbread.
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--jeremy