After the reveal of Android L made the rounds a while ago during I/O 2014, there was much speculation when the final version would be released, and what it would be named. Google had been anxious to reveal the version number and codename for the new version of the OS, always referring to it as “Android L” and not revealing much information about when it would be released. Of course, we all knew about the Developer Preview that was released back at I/O 2014, but we also knew it wasn’t final and it was there simply to iron out the kinks before a final release. Now, we finally get the whole picture, and Android Lollipop is both official, and coming your way very soon.
Android Lollipop carries with it all the major features announced back at I/O, along with a few extra usability and feature improvements. Google is very serious about this being the most comprehensive and most radical Android update ever, carrying the 5.0 version number that makes it a clean break from KitKat and Jellybean. Lollipop is a revolution. A few of the features worth mentioning include:
Better Performance – Due to the new ART runtime and a bevvy of other optimizations, Android is smoother than ever and more memory and CPU efficient
Better Battery Life – Aided by Project Volta, Android can now report accurate battery stats and conserves battery power by taking advantage of new techniques and APIs to wake up the device less times and eliminate wakelocks
Material Design – Completely replacing the current Holo UI with a new total 3D, animated UI that gives developers a whole new set of toys to play with and a new look that is consistent across all apps
New Camera API – The new camera API allows developers to make new camera apps that directly talk to the camera sensor and obtain unprocessed, unfiltered data at a faster rate
New Multitasking – The new multitasking interface is based on cards and allows developers to plug their own cards directly into this system – for example, having each tab of Chrome appear as its own card
Lower Audio Latency – Audio Latency is lower than ever, opening the possibility for new audio applications and professional equipment to be usable on Android
New Device Migration – Now, when you setup a new Lollipop device, Android will ask you which apps do you want to import from your old device, and will also import the old app data if it is available
New Notification and Privacy Settings – Notifications now appear directly on your lockscreen so you can check at a glance, and they appear with redacted or fully visible information depending on your privacy settings
Multiple User Support – Previously a tablet feature, multiuser is now supported on smartphones and allows you to set up guest accounts and pick which apps are available for certain users
Pinning Mode – Allows you to pass your device to another person and restrict them to a single app, to avoid snooping around
These really are just a few of the great new features that Android 5.0 is bringing to the table. Without a doubt, everyone is looking forward to getting this version of Android on their devices, but as usual, the Android device updating system is a pain. Google has confirmed that Nexus devices will be getting the update “in the coming weeks”, but when it comes to Google Play Edition devices and other manufacturers, things get a bit muddier. Despite all that, most manufacturers already have said which devices will be getting an update to 5.0, so look it up if you’re not sure that you’re getting this treat.
In closing, it’s hard to criticize any of the aspects or features of Lollipop. It truly is the most impressive and mature version of Android yet, and the improvements it makes range from total radical changes, like the new runtime and UI, to small usability tweaks that will make a world of difference to someone out there, like having a flashlight toggle in the quick settings. Baby steps and giant steps, all in the same package. It’s also nice to see that, while iOS and the like generally tend to make their newer versions of the OS unusable or harder to run on old devices, Google keeps on pushing the envelope and making more efficient iterations of Android, focusing of polishing what is admittedly a rough gem instead of adding heavy bells and whistles that don’t have universal appeal.