Google previewed ‘Android L’ at its Google I/O developer event in June, and since then, developers and consumers have awaited the final version, which was finally announced on Wednesday as Android 5.0 Lollipop. The company also launched the platform lead devices for Android 5.0 Lollipop, namely the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player.
Since the Android L preview earlier this year, Google has added several new features to the final release of Android 5.0 Lollipop. While some changes are extensions of the themes introduced in Android L, some are relatively new, and other previously known features have now been detailed by the search giant.
(Also see: Android 5.0 Lollipop Coming Soon to Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Moto E, Moto G, Moto X, and Others)
Here are some of the biggest changes that Google brought to its widely-popular mobile and tablet platform with Android 5.0 Lollipop:
First up is the ambitious Material Design. Remember when Google had introduced Android L saying that this next version will receive a complete visual overhaul for a consistent experience across devices? Well, here it is. Android 5.0 Lollipop features a cleaner, flatter design with a more fluid interface and animations.
We saw the revamped navigation and status bar in the Android L preview, and Google has stuck to the design but now the status bar can be coloured or kept transparent (depending on the app) and features refreshed status icons. The ‘Quick settings’ menu has also been revamped, and includes new controls like flashlight, hotspot, cast screen controls and more. Also new is the toggle for location services. The recent apps menu or task switcher now appears like a stack of cards instead of a list of screenshots of recently open apps.
Google explains the new Material Design for Android 5.0 Lollipop as “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.”
Improved Notifications/ Do Not Disturb
Android 5.0 Lollipop’s lock screen displays richer notifications, and users can view and respond to messages directly from the lock screen. In fact, Google has further gone ahead with notifications and included rich floating descriptive notifications on top of your activity. Users will be able to view or dismiss any notifications without moving away from an activity.
Essentially, Google has provided better overall control for Notifications.
Users will be able to control notifications triggered by their apps, and choose to hide sensitive content, apart from prioritising or turning off an app’s notifications completely. Android 5.0 Lollipop users can also turn on ‘Priority mode’ via the device’s volume button and allow notifications from only certain people or apps to be shown – users can schedule when Priority mode turns on as well. The feature also works as a Do Not Disturb mode as seen in Apple’s iOS, and allows users to also selectively silence notifications and calls on the Android device.
Importantly, Google has also now downgraded the priority that incoming phone calls are given, and users can now choose to answer the call, cancel it, or just continue to do what they were doing without waiting for the call to end.
(Also see: Google Nexus 9 With Android 5.0 Lollipop, 64-Bit Tegra K1 Coming This November Starting $399)
Kill Switch and Improved Security
Android 5.0 Lollipop will come with an opt-in kill switch dubbed ‘Factory Reset Protection’, which will allow users to wipe out the device’s data on will. If a user activates this feature, they will be required to enter their Google login to factory reset the device and it will only work when the phone passcode is enabled. Google also says that new devices come with encryption automatically turned on to help protect data on lost or stolen devices. Google had announced the feature last month, after Apple revealed its own version. Not much is known about this feature as yet, but we will soon find out the details.
Other security options in Android Lollipop includes SELinux enforcing for all applications claimed for even better protection against vulnerabilities and malware. Users will also get an Android Smart Lock feature to secure their device by pairing it with a trusted device like a wearable or even their car, says Google.
New Messenger App
There is a new Messenger app that will be shipping with the Nexus 6 as part of Android 5.0 Lollipop It is said to be a more simplified of Hangouts, and is not a replacement for it, says a Google spokesperson, “Messenger and Hangouts offer users choice, each have their own benefits. Hangouts work great for cross platform (web, iOS, Android) and cross medium communications (video, voice,messaging, SMS). Messenger will be specially designed to be a quick and easy way to send and receive SMS and MMS messages on Android; more to come (Nexus 6 will come with both apps).”
Google has finally brought device sharing features that will help users share their Android 5.0 Lollipop device with members of their family and friends without worrying about access to sensitive content. Android 5.0 Lollipop features a guest user mode with custom options for access, as well as screen pinning that lets users fix in place the screen that’s displayed without allowing guests to go further. Interestingly, it has also introduced a new feature in Lollipop that lets users log in to another Android phone to access synced messages and content in case they forget their phone at home.
Google has also added a new battery saver feature to Android 5.0 Lollipop, claiming to extend device battery life by up to 90 minutes. Android 5.0 Lollipop will also display the estimated time left to fully charge the device when plugged in, as well as the estimated time left on the device before the user needs to charge again.
Quick Device Set Up
Google has introduced new ways for users to set up their devices with Android 5.0 Lollipop. Users can instantly set up their new Android phone or tablet by simply tapping it on their old device – though this requires NFC support. All apps from Google Play are also carried over on the new device, as long as the same Google account is being used.
Other new features in Android 5.0 Lollipop include the new ART Android runtime for improved application performance and responsiveness; support for 64-bit devices and SoCs; native 64-bit apps; improved hardware keyboard accessory support (including support for multilingual, emoji input, search key, and improved app and system key chords), support for 15 new languages (including Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu); improved accessibility features (such as text contrast boost, colour inversion, and enhanced colour differentiation); improved audio, video, and camera capabilities, and improved Internet connectivity everywhere and with more powerful Bluetooth low energy capabilities.