Google has finally announced the official version and name of the next iteration of Android. After considering everything, from Lemon Meringue Pie to Lemon Drop to Licorice and Ladhu (Ladoo), they have finally decided on the moniker Lollipop. Earlier this year, back in June, the search behemoth took the wraps off of the latest iteration of its popular mobile operating system (OS) with the reveal and release of the Android L preview which was made available on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5, the L preview brought with it a whole slew of changes – changes that will mark a new era for Android as indicated by the jump in the version number to 5.0 after what seems like ages in the 4.X stages.
So what’s different in Android 5.0 Lollipop?
Well, from the get go, you’ll notice that Google has adopted a new design language will now permeates Android. Initially announced at their Google I/O conference, the Material Design approach to app and OS design gives Android some much needed polish and visual finesse. One of the major changes any Android user will notice is the change in the icons used for navigation. Instead of the familiar back arrow, home and recent apps icons, Google has opted to use a more minimalist approach with their icons which are now a triangle (back), circle (home) and square (recent apps).
Material Design also utilises depth to give more fluid motion and transition in between application actions and layers. It brings some shadow, lighting and colour to some already familiar visual design in addition to new status icons. Google has also implemented what they call “edge to edge imagery” which allows an app to take over the whole screen minimising both the notification tray and navigation buttons.
With Android Lollipop, Google is also revamping the way Android handles notifications. The first major change you’ll notice in Android Lollipop is that you have more control of your notifications. Android Lollipop allows more granular control of notifications allowing you to set up what notifications you want and when. In addition, your lockscreen is now more functional. Google has brought its actionable notifications to the lockscreen so you can reply your text messages straight from your lockscreen. However, you can also control what is displayed on your lockscreen and how much of it you want to be displayed.
Android Lollipop also brings with it a new Priority Mode which you can activate via the volume button. This will make it so only certain notifications and people can get through to you or scheduling a set time frame when only these people and applications are able to wake/disturb you.
Android Lollipop will also bring floating notifications which will allow notifications to get to you even when you’re busy watching a video or doing some important work. These notifications will, of course, allow you to interact with them allowing you to do things like answer calls. In addition, your notifications will not just be stacked anymore – Android will now handle notifications more intelligently based on who they’re from and the content and type of communication. This means that if your mother texts you, the notification would appear above everything else including work emails.
Device Sharing, Security and Performance
Android Lollipop also enhances Android’s performance thanks to a few optimisations made to the software framework of the OS. The biggest change comes in the form of the adoption of the Android Runtime (ART) by default which replaces the currently utilised Dalvik Runtime. With ART, application will launch faster and run smoother thanks to the change in the way the runtime handles quick access and ad hoc data. Google also says that Android users can expect up to 4 times performance improvements. In addition, multitasking also being improved by compacting backgrounded applications and services so that there is more RAM and processor space for the tasks that you want to get done.
A major step in Lollipop is 64-bit support. This support is spearheaded by Google’s latest Nexus tablet, the Nexus 9. 64-bit support will extend to processors or Systems on a Chip (SoCs) with ARM, x86 and MIPS architecture – basically every processor set you can think of in the market. Google further consolidates this move by shipping their own apps such as GMail, Maps Calendar and Chrome in native 64-bit and also making pure Java language apps run in 64-bit natively.
Sharing your device is also easier with Android Lollipop with multiuser support. This will allow Android users to access their accounts and contacts by simply logging into another android device. You can also create guest accounts which will allow users to access your device but not your data. This also allows very granular control of your screens allowing you to “pin” screens limiting what can be accessed by other accounts.
Android Lollipop will also be coming with a few pieces of the Samsung KNOX framework baked in; enhancing security on the OS. In addition, as recently announced, Google will be enabling Device encryption out of the box. Further, Google will be enhancing SELinux enforcement for applications to help deal with other concerns such as malware and viruses. Android Smart Lock will also allow you to secure your device and also bypass the lockscreen if paired with a trusted device.
Lollipop will also make Android more energy efficient with the implementation of Project Volta which allows developers to time and reduce wakelocks for applications as well as minimizing such events on your device. This also allow better, more granular data to be collected in regards to battery usage. These data points allow Android to now display time remaining for usage as well as time needed to charge fully accordingly. Google is also introducing a power saver mode which it claims can extend battery life by up to 90 minutes.
These are just some of the highlights of Android Lollipop. Are you excited for Android L?
In addition to the enhancements and features, Google has also officially unveiled the Android Lollipop statue which will be joining the others at Google’s Mountain View campus. As with all previous versions, Android Lollipop also comes with its own easter egg which you can access by tapping your version number several times. This time, the easter egg comes in the form of a Flappy Bird-esque game which features and Android.
We’ve added a changelog supplied by Google here if you want the full details.
- A bold, colorful, and responsive UI design for consistent, intuitive experiences across all your devices
- Responsive, natural motion, realistic lighting and shadows, and familiar visual elements make it easier to navigate your device
- Vivid new colors, typography, and edge-to-edge imagery help to focus your attention
- New ways to control when and how you receive messages – only get interrupted when you want to be
- View and respond to messages directly from your lock screen. Includes the ability to hide sensitive content for these notifications
- For fewer disruptions, turn on Priority mode via your device’s volume button so only certain people and notifications get through. Or schedule recurring downtime like 10pm to 8am when only Priority notifications can get through
- With Lollipop, incoming phone calls won’t interrupt what you’re watching or playing. You can choose to answer the call or just keep doing what you’re doing
- Control the notifications triggered by your apps; hide sensitive content and prioritize or turn off the app’s notifications entirely
- More intelligent ranking of notifications based on who they’re from and the type of communication. See all your notifications in one place by tapping the top of the screen
- Power for the long haul
- A battery saver feature which extends device use by up to 90 mins
- Estimated time left to fully charge is displayed when your device is plugged in
- Estimated time left on your device before you need to charge again can now be found in battery setting
- Keep your stuff safe and sound
- New devices come with encryption automatically turned on to help protect data on lost or stolen devices
- SELinux enforcing for all applications means even better protection against vulnerabilities and malware
- Use Android Smart Lock to secure your phone or tablet by pairing it with a trusted device like your wearable or even your car
- More flexible sharing with family and friends
- Multiple users for phones. If you forget your phone, you still can call any of your friends (or access any of your messages, photos etc.) by simply logging into another Android phone running Lollipop. Also perfect for families who want to share a phone, but not their stuff
- Guest user for phones and tablets means you can lend your device and not your stuff
- Screen pinning: pin your screen so another user can access just that content without messing with your other stuff
New Quick Settings
- Get to the most frequently used settings with just two swipes down from the top of the screen
- New handy controls like flashlight, hotspot, screen rotation and cast screen controls
- Easier on/off toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location
- Manually adjust your brightness for certain conditions. Then, adaptive brightness will kick in based on ambient lighting
- A better internet connection everywhere and more powerful Bluetooth low energy capabilities
- Improved network handoffs resulting in limited interruption in connectivity. For example, continue your video chat or VoIP calls without interruption as you leave the house and switch from your home Wi-Fi back to cellular
- Improved network selection logic so that your device connects only if there is a verified internet connection on Wi-Fi
- Power-efficient scanning for nearby Bluetooth low energy (“BLE”) devices like wearables or beacons
- New BLE peripheral mode
Runtime and Performance
- A faster, smoother and more powerful computing experience
- ART, an entirely new Android runtime, improves application performance and responsiveness
- Up to 4x performance improvements
- Smoother UI for complex, visually rich applications
- Compacting backgrounded apps and services so you can do more at once
- Support for 64 bit devices, like the Nexus 9, brings desktop class CPUs to Android
- Support for 64-bit SoCs using ARM, x86, and MIPS-based cores
- Shipping 64-bit native apps like Chrome, Gmail, Calendar, Google Play Music, and more
- Pure Java language apps run as 64-bit apps automatically
- Bolder graphics and improved audio, video, and camera capabilities
- Lower latency audio input ensuring that music and communication applications that have strict delay requirements provide an amazing realtime experience
- Multi-channel audio stream mixing means professional audio applications can now mix up to eight channels including 5.1 and 7.1 channels
- USB Audio support means you can plug USB microphones, speakers, and a myriad of other USB audio devices like amplifiers and mixers into your Android device
- OpenGL ES 3.1 and Android extension pack brings Android to the forefront of mobile graphics putting it on par with desktop and console class performance
- A range of new professional photography features for Android Lollipop that let you
- Capture full resolution frames around 30 fps
- Support raw formats like YUV and Bayer RAW
- Control capture settings for the sensor, lens, and flash per individual frame
- Capture metadata like noise models and optical information
- State of the art video technology with support for HEVC main profile to allow for UHD 4K 10-bit video playback, tunneled hardware video decoding to save power and improved HLS support for streaming
- Easy access to information and performing tasks
- Even if your screen is off, you can say “OK Google” on devices with digital signal processing support such as Nexus 6 and Nexus 9
- Talk to Google on the go to get quick answers, send a text, get directions and more
- Support for living room devices
- User interface adapted for the living room
- Less browsing, more watching with personalized recommendations for content like movies and TV shows
- Voice search for Google Play, YouTube and supported apps so you can just say what you want to see
- Console-style Android gaming on your TV with a gamepad
- Cast your favorite entertainment apps to your big screen with Google Cast support for Android TV devices
- Enhanced low vision and color blind capabilities
- Boost text contrast or invert colors to improve legibility
- Adjust display to improve color differentiation
- Now in 68+ languages
- 15 new additions
- Basque, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese (Hong Kong), Galician, Icelandic, Kannada, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu
Device Set Up
- Get up and running in no-time
- Tap & go: instant set up of your new Android phone or tablet by simply tapping it to your old one (requires NFC)
- Whenever you get a new Android phone or tablet, you can bring over your apps from Google Play automatically from any of your old Android devices
- And a whole lot more
- Tap & pay: easily manage multiple payment apps by quickly switching between them
- Print preview and page range support
- Revamped display for battery, Bluetooth, data usage, and Wi-Fi settings and new search functionality
- New device level feedback for Nexus devices in Settings > about phone > send feedback
- Easier sharing with Improved ranking of your options within the share menu
- Android Beam: lets you share a file with someone nearby by gently tapping the two devices together
- Where supported by the hardware, your device will wake up as soon as you pick it up or tap the screen twice
- Improved hardware keyboard accessory support including support for multilingual, emoji input, search key, and improved app and system key chords