You may be under the impression that Android 5.0 Lollipop is just another software update from Google. And, to the undiscerning eye, that might be true. Sure, apps look a bit different, notifications look different, and there are a few little tweaks that infuriate your spouse because, “it’s just not the same as before!” But rest assured, Android 5.0 has made some big improvements.

So, here they are, the top 5 reasons you, the average mobile user, should be excited about Android 5.0.


1. Material Designandroid 5.0 material design

Material design is what will unify the look at feel of Google apps across the web, and mobile devices. It’s based on the idea that everything should come from somewhere and move to somewhere. Things don’t just pop out of no where, they slide and move, just as they would in the real world.

Material design will help apps make more sense. Once you learn how one app works, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how any other app works that uses material design. Android developers should jump on the material train and take the design ques to heart. Many Google apps have already been converted to material design, but when Android 5.0 begins hitting more devices, you’ll see a much more unified look and feel across the entire operating system.

Check out the video below for more information on how Google is bringing it all together.


2. Ok, Googleok, google

Talking to our mobile devices is starting to be a part of our everyday life. More and more of us don’t want to touch our devices if we don’t have to. What was once a way to physically connect with our phones and tablets, is now a bit of a pain. Somewhere, someone said, “Hey, why can’t I just tell my phone what I want it to do?” And then they did nothing with the idea. But then some developer asked the same question, and started working on the answer.

In Android 5.0, you’ll be able to change the name of your Android device to whatever you want. So, “Ok, Google” becomes “Ok, Shaq” or “Ok, Jarvis” or “Ok, sexy.”

Ok, Google allows us to practically have a conversation with our mobile device. Ok, Google will allow you to,

Set an alarm: “Set an alarm for 7am.”

Set a reminder: “Remind me to call John at 6pm” or “Remind me to buy Belgian chocolate at Ghirardelli Square.”

Create a Google Calendar event: “Create a calendar event for dinner in San Francisco, Saturday at 7pm.”

Check your schedule: “What does my day look like tomorrow” or “When is my next meeting.”

Call a friend: “Call Lindsay Hampson” or “Call Mom.”

Text a friend: “Text Jason that I’m running 5 minutes late.”

Send an email: “Send an email to Kristin, subject new shoes, message, I can’t wait to show you my new shoes, full stop.”

Check your voicemail: “Listen to voicemail.”

Post to a social network: “Post to Google+ that I’m going to be in Seattle for the weekend.”

Play music: “Play Macklemore” or “Play Can’t Hold Us.”

Identify a song: “What’s this song?”

Find new music: “What songs do Mumford and Sons sing?”

Play a radio station from Google Play: “Play some music.”

Watch a movie from Google Play: “Watch Frozen.”

Learn about a TV show you’re watching: “What’s on TV.”

Read a book from Google Play: “Read Ender’s Game.”

Find a movie: “What movies are playing tonight” or “Where’s Hunger Games playing.”

Search for images: “Show me pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Take a photo or video: “Take a picture” or “Record a video.”

Get directions: “Navigate to Safeway” or “Directions to 1299 Colusa Avenue Berkeley California.”

Find nearby places: “Where’s the closest coffee shop.”

Plan your trip: “What are some attractions in New York City?”

Look up travel plans: “Show me my flights” or “Where’s my hotel.”

Find the time: “What time is it in London.”

Check the weather: “Do I need a jacket today” or “What’s the like tomorrow morning.”

Answer trivia questions: “Where was Albert Einstein born” or “How old is Beyonce.”

Calculate the tip: “What’s the tip for 42 dollars.”

Translate words or phrases: “How do you say cucumber in Spanish.”

Define a word: “What does onomatopoeia mean.”

Convert between units: “What’s 16 ounces in pounds.”

Solve a math problem: “What’s the square root of 2209.”

Track a package from your Gmail order confirmation: “Where’s my package.”

At this point, it’s not a question of, “what can you ask Google,” but, “what can’t you ask Google?”

If you don’t like reading long lists, you can check out the video below to learn more about how you can talk to your Android device.


3. Lock screen notifications

That’s right users, notifications also now appear on the lock screen in Android 5.0. Those precious notifications won’t just be stagnant, waiting for you to dismiss them, oh no, now you can take action right from the lock screen to deal with those notifications right then and there. For example, if you get an email, you can delete it without leaving the lock screen or you android 5.0 lock screen notificationscan hit reply and open the mail app to respond.

You can also change how your notifications arrive. Maybe you don’t want text messages to display, but rather just see that you got a text message from your wife. That way, your friends and co-workers can’t see how whipped you are and they will never know that you are expected to complete your chore list that night when you get home (sorry babe, I’ll be done writing this post in just a little while and then I promise to take out the trash). And, like all good features, you can turn it off completely so you won’t get notifications on your lock screen.

But it’s not just all or nothing.

You can now choose which app are allowed to send you notifications. Yes, you’ve always been able to do this in each individual app, but now it is built into the system. So, you can tell your mobile device which apps to ignore and which apps are a priority.

Another great feature is hiding in the volume button.

When your phone is locked, you can use the volume button to toggle between 3 different settings; “none,” “priority” and “all.” This is a quick and easy way to change what notifications can come through to your lock screen. And so you don’t forget you switched off notifications before that meeting at work, Android 5.0 will ask you how long you want leave the setting in place. You tell it one hour, then in somewhere around 60 minutes, it reverts back to the normal setting. Brilliant.


4. Guest User Mode

I was talking to a friend recently, and he told me that people will pick up his phone and just start thumbing through it like it was his CD case sitting in the passenger seat of his car. Not cool. This tells me he needs to set some better lock screen controls (See the previous feature set, Brad). It also tells me that there should be a way to setup your phone so that you can hand it to someone without fear that they will come across any sensitive information.

Android 5.0 Lollipop allows you to setup a guest user, or multiple guest users. According to the Android 5.0 Lollipop page (say that 5.0 times fast),

Share your device securely with guest user mode. Or create multiple user accounts to enable friends to log in on your device. In either case, no one will be able to access any of your stuff. And you can use Android Smart Lock to secure your phone or tablet by pairing it with a trusted device like your wearable or even your car.

You can access guest user mode from the new quick settings menu.

android 5.0 guest user mode


5. Improved Quick Settings

Android 5.0  brings some great improvements to the quick setting menu. You’ll still access it by swiping down from the top of the screen, but what you will find in the menu is brand 5.0 quick settings

There’s a quick-access bar that hangs at the top of the screen, displaying the date, time, and links to other settings.

Swipe down a second time to get the full menu. From there you can adjust the brightness, or toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode on or off, cast your screen to a Chromecast or Nexus Player, fire up the flashlight, or switch accounts.

Call me a nerd, but I am most excited about having access to the flashlight from right in the quick settings menu. It really bothers me that I have to open and app, and turn the flashlight on. This should be a one to two tap process that should only take a few seconds. Now it is.

The cog piece takes you to the main settings, as usual, with a few tweaks to the layout, and of course a material design look and feel.

For you battery watchers, you can tap the battery icon and jump into the settings. From there, you’ll see what apps have been draining your battery, and then you can screen shot that and post it to Google+ to show all your friends just how amazing, or crappy, the battery life on your Android device is (you laugh, but I see those screen shots all the time – I may or may not have posted one, too).

Android 5.0 will also tell you about how much time it will take to charge your batter when you attach the plug.


So there you have it, the top 5 reasons you should be excited about Android 5.0, according to me. What about Android 5.0 most excites you?

11/13/2014 Update: Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica takes an in-depth look at Android Lollipop, calling it the biggest Android update ever.

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