Android Lollipop 5.0 best features
We’ve spent the week playing with the gorgeous and feature-packed Android Lollipop 5.0, which (spoiler alert) we bloody love. Here’s some tips and tricks for the best new features to help you get the most from Android 5.0.
Android Lollipop Tip One: Notifications bar
Google has jazzed up the notifications bar for Android 5.0 Lollipop, and although it still works in a similar fashion to the old notification bar, there's a few cool new features.
Drag down with a single digit from the top of the screen and you’ll pull out a list of all of your notifications, including emails, tweets, Google Now cards and whatever else you’re interested in. Just flick unwanted notifications away to get rid of them, or tap the three staggered lines at the bottom of the bar to clear them all at once. You’ll find that calls, low battery warnings and other important info appear directly in notifications now, keeping things neat and tidy.
Note that if you’re getting notifications from an app that you really don’t want (no, Asphalt, I do not care to purchase a fake car for real money) then you can go to Settings > Sound & notification > App notifications. Then just tap any app that’s bugging you and hit ‘Block’.
Drag down from the top of the screen with two fingers and you’ll uncover a little more than just notifications - you’ll also notice some shortcuts appear, which allow you to quickly toggle GPS, auto rotate, Wi-Fi and screen brightness, among others. Before this was a separate menu bar, but now it’s integrated nicely into the notifications.
Your notifications will now also appear immediately on your lock screen by default, something that most manufacturers already add to their devices. You can dismiss notifications right there on the lock screen and they’ll be removed from your menu, without bothering to unlock your phone or tablet.
You can thankfully hide notifications from specific apps from the lock screen, in case your inbox is flooding with penis enlargement notices. Just go to Settings > Sound & notification > App notifications, tap the app you want and hit ‘Sensitive’.
Android Lollipop Tip Two: Don’t interrupt!
If you fiddle with the volume rockers in Google Android 5.0, you might notice three new options appearing below the volume window that pops up on screen: All, Priority and None. These refer to interruptions, or in other words what notifications are allowed to pop up and bother you.
‘All’ is the default option, which of course lets everything through.
‘Priority’ (signified by a star icon in your taskbar) allows you to manually choose which notifications can interrupt you, either indefinitely or for a set period. This is particularly handy if you use your tablet at work or if it’s keeping you awake at night with its pinging and buzzing. You can even set regular days and times for Priority mode to automatically activate, by tapping the settings cog.
Finally, ‘None’ is also pretty obvious and again can be set indefinitely or for a specific period.
Android Lollipop Tip Three: Get the whole family involved
Drag down the notifications bar with two fingers and you’ll spot the new users icon at the very top, basically a blue circle with a head and shoulders inside. Tap this and you’ll have the ability to add a new user or a guest.
As the first owner, or the master owner if you will, you have full admin rights over any additional users. That means you can remove them at any time, uninstall their apps and basically ruin their day.
Each user can then set their own themes and arrange their desktops however they see fit, without worrying about others coming along and messing it all up (set your own password just to be sure).
Android Lollipop also allows you to set up quick and easy guest accounts, if a mate is borrowing your tablet. This allows them to access your Wi-Fi or whatever else they need, again without messing up your settings or accessing your private photos, emails and so on. All you need to do is tap ‘Add guest’ in the user menu and you’re basically done.
Android Lollipop Tip Four: Add any email account to Gmail
If you use non-Google mail services, such as Yahoo or Hotmail, then good news. Google has taken pity on you and now allows you to check your emails directly through Gmail, rather than dicking around with separate mail programs.
Just set up your account as normal (go to Settings > Accounts > Add account, then tap in your email address and password) and then head into the Gmail app. Tap the menu button at the top left (three horizontal lines) and you’ll notice your dirty non-Google account is now available to access.
Android Lollipop Tip Five: Use your Bluetooth kit to unlock your phone with Smart Lock
If you’re sick of constantly entering PIN codes to unlock your phone, the Smart Lock feature should make you happier than a crack-addled hyena. Basically, this uses a Bluetooth device as authentication instead - so as long as your phone is paired with a trusted device, the PIN stage is bypassed. Of course, this feature is only really useful if you regularly keep a smartwatch or set of wireless earphones hooked up to your mobile.
All you need to do is head to Settings > Security > Smart Lock and set which Bluetooth devices are trusted. You can use multiple devices, and Smart Lock worked perfectly every time for us.
Alternatively, if you don’t have any Bluetooth gear, you can set up a ‘Trusted Face’ instead. This uses the front-facing camera to check if it’s really you handling the tablet, although Google does warn that someone who ‘looks like you’ could abuse the feature (I'm personally buggered if Louis Spence nicks my gear) and we found it occasionally failed to work, with the Nexus 9 asking us to enter our PIN code anyway.