Translucent bars in Android KitKat could spell trouble for many

Translucent bars in Android KitKat could spell trouble for many
The Nexus 10 is struggling a bit

Google's Android 4.4 KitKat update doesn't bring a completely re-imagined operating system to the fore - instead if brings various tweaks and upgrades, one of which is the transparent notification and menu bars.

It's hardly a scintillating new feature, but it allows your wallpaper to take full advantage of all of your smartphone's screen real estate, and to be fair it does look quite nice.

Before you fall in love with the effect too much, be warned: it's rather power hungry. According to the folks over at XDA the new translucent feature is killing last year's Nexus 10 tablet.

Digging around in the Android 4.4.1 code, one user, JosephRaphael, claims to have found a line which allows the transparent bars to be disabled on the tablet.

Poor performance

He also revealed developer comments in the code which state "Translucent status & navigation bars perform poorly on this device."

The Nexus 10 isn't exactly poorly equipped with a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM and if it's struggling at this spec level it could mean trouble for a vast number of smartphones.

While quad-core processors are now the norm in high end handsets, many mid and low end devices still pack dual, and in some cases even single, core chips - which could spell disaster for KitKat's fancy translucent feature.

Of course, if the ability to disable this particular effect solves the performance issue then there's little to worry about - but it does make you wonder what other enhancements hidden within Android 4.4 could see lesser powered devices grind to a halt. Fingers crossed Google's got it all covered.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.