Google has entered into a first-of-its-kind cross-promotional contract with food giant Nestlé, under which the next release of the Android mobile platform will be codenamed 'KitKat.'
Google has long used dessert-based codenames for its Android releases, starting with Android 1.5 Cupcake shortly after it acquired the software. Subsequent releases continued the theme, incrementing the letter used each time: Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice-Cream Sandwich and finally Jelly Bean. Here, the codename progression strangely stopped: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean was followed by Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and, most recently, was replaced by Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
Now, Google has confirmed it is finally picking a new name with the impending release of Android 4.4 - but the long-rumoured Key Lime Pie branding is nowhere to be seen, with the company sticking two fingers up at the pundits with the decision to call it KitKat instead.
The deal isn't just about the name, either: Nestlé's chocolate-coated wafer treat will serve as a joint promotional effort for both companies. Google gets a familiar name for its software - and, we're willing to bet, a large suitcase full of cash - while Nestlé is to release promotional KitKat packs which offer the chance to win a latest-model Nexus 7 or credit for the Google Play market.
While Google hasn't yet provided a launch date for Android 4.4 KitKat, it is likely just around the corner: stock of the Android 4.3-based Nexus 4 in the US has sold out with no sign it will be replenished soon, and a video unveiling the KitKat statue at Google's headquarters - since removed from YouTube - offered a tantalising glimpse at its successor, the LG-manufactured Nexus 5. Those who have existing current-generation Nexus hardware can, as usual, expect to receive an upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat shortly after launch.
Google's clever marketing may cause consternation for some, however: Nestlé is the subject of a long-running boycott
over what is claimed to be corrupt marketing techniques for its baby formula powder in developing nations, which critics claim put children's lives in danger as parents eschew breastfeeding in favour of powder made up to too weak a concentration with unclean water.
Even so, it would take a hardened critic indeed to deny that the company's amusing Apple-inspired website
and matching promotional video, reproduced below, is not worthy of at least a wry smile.