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Google sells out, names next version of Android ‘KitKat’

In a move that would make even MC Hammer cringe, Google today unveiled the latest dessert-themed name for its next version of Android (version 4.4). What’s it called? Android KitKat. Yep, Google has sold out the code name to its next operating system, once thought to be called Android ‘Key Lime Pie.’ The new version of Android, which now has a mascot made of KitKat bars, was announced on android.com/kitkat, with several links to Nestle’s KitKat website and a sponsorship promotion giving people the chance to win a Nexus 7 if they buy a bunch of KitKats. … Yay?

Previous versions of Android have been code-named Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean.

KitKats taste great, but this is a sad move. Google executives claim that no money exchanged hands, but this is a clear ploy to force fans and media websites to write and say “Android KitKat” every time they mention the next version of Google’s OS. Nestle, for its part, plans to milk the hell out of this promotion. It will sell 50 million Android-branded KitKats in 19 countries around the world, including the UK, US, India, Brazil, Russia, and Japan.

Google has gotten a lot of praise for making Android an open-source project, but it’s hard not to be a little let down if it’s now willing to sell out the name of its operating systems. What’s next? Will new Nexus 7 devices come in “Hershey’s” Brown? Maybe there will be an educational version of the Nexus called the Lexis Nexus? What isn’t up for sale at Google?

Executives at Google have kept the KitKat name a secret since Mobile World Congress this year, lying about the name of Android 4.4 to keep the element of “surprise” intact. 

“We kept calling the name Key Lime Pie internally and even when we referred to it with partners,” said John Lagerling, director of Android global partnerships, to the BBC. “If we had said, ‘The K release is, by the way, secret’, then people would have racked their minds trying to work out what it was going to be.”

Google has given no hints to the features of the next version of Android, though its number (4.4) indicates that it will probably be an incremental release. On the announcement page, Google says that the “goal with Android KitKat is to make an amazing Android experience available to everybody.” This could mean better support for small-screened or inexpensive devices.

Devoted fans of the KitKat, it looks like you’ll have to switch to Android to fully support your favorite crackered snack. Everyone else, do you think this is a fun move or a dumb ploy?

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