Today is a big day in the world of Android. Google announced via it’s blog the newest and biggest version of Android: Android 5.0, or Android Lollipop. There is a lot to sort through here, so stick with us as we go through all the new features coming to an Android device near you.
First, Android Lollipop will fit screens of all sizes: from smartwatches, to smartphones, to tablets, to automobile screens, and your TV. With this, Android Lollipop will not only be fluid across all your devices, but can sync together allowing you to stop in one place and pick up in another. So if you’re watching a movie on your Android TV device, and want to finish in bed, you can pick up where you left off on your tablet. If you’re listening to a song on your phone, and get in your car, you can pick up the song and continue on your way.
Next is Material Design, which was previewed at Google I/O. This brings fluidity and motion onto your device that makes everything fit together. We’ve seen a lot of this already through some of Google’s updated apps, but Android Lollipop will tie it all together in the OS. Each device will provide the information you need the best way it will work. It has more responsive, natural motion, with visual elements that feel familiar. On your watch, that means a snippet of an email. On your tablet that means the message is shown alongside your message list.
Android Lollipop will have the ability to control notifications at a much greater level. You can access and reply to messages from your lock screen, and you can set what notifications come through at a certain time. Whether that’s getting priority messages based on the person and content of the message only during sleep, or silencing everything during a meeting. Calls will also not interrupt while watching a video, allowing you to ignore the call or accept it without pausing the video.
Battery, security, and cameras, oh my!
Android Lollipop will also have much better battery life, with a battery saver feature giving you up to 90 minutes more usage. It also provides greater management of your battery, by letting you know the estimated time until your device dies, or estimated time it will be fully charged.
Android Lollipop will have better security, with a guest mode, and a special pin that you can give to your friends with their own unique profile. Android Smart Lock allows you to pair your device to another trusted device to allow easy unlocking. Encryption is enabled out of the box, and there is better protection against vulnerabilities.
Quick Settings has been updated, allowing you to view them with two swipes down from the top of the screen. New controls like flashlight, hotspot, screen rotation, and cast screen control. Easier on and off toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location (no more long pressing?). Manual brightness control will now be built-in, and adaptive brightness will adjust more intuitively.
Connectivity is improved with Android Lollipop, allowing seamless transition from Wi-Fi to cellular connection. Also, there is improved Bluetooth connectivity, with a new BLE peripheral mode.
ART is now the new runtime (instead of dalvik), with faster and more fluid performance. There is also support for 64-bit devices (like the Nexus 9).
Also a big update is a bunch of new Media enhancements and features. These include lower latency audio input, multi-channel audio stream mixing, USB audio support for microphones speakers etc. OpenGL ES 3.1 brings console level graphics and performance to your device.
Mobile photographers rejoice! A slew of new features include capture of full resolution frames at 30 fps, support for raw formats, control of capture settings for the sensor, lens, and flash per individual frame, and capturing of metadata like noise models. Also, there’s new “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”.
Other noteworthy details
OK Google has been updated, allowing for more support of waking your device by your voice (needs digital signal processing support). The site also says “Talk to Google on the go to get quick answers, send a text, get directions and more”. Not quite sure what that means as this is already possible, but more than likely it’s greatly improved with greater control.
Along with all of this Accessibility has been improved, more languages added (15 more to be exact), and device set up has been improved with the ability to tap a new device with a current device by NFC and be done. Tap &pay is improved, print preview and page range support, “Revamped display for battery, Bluetooth, data usage, and Wi-Fi settings and new search functionality”, easier sharing, when hardware supports it the device will wake up when you pick it up or tap the screen twice, and “Improved hardware keyboard accessory support including support for multilingual, emoji input, search key, and improved app and system key chords”.
*Takes a deep breath* Wow, that was a lot to go through! This is easily the biggest update they have ever had. On their blog announcement, Sundar Pichai mentions there are over 5,000 APIs for developers. Are you ready for this? I’m not sure I am!
With the announcement of this, they also announced the Nexus 6, made by Motorola, the Nexus 9, made by HTC, and the Nexus Player made by ASUS. If you visit one of those pages (which will be listed below) you will see they are sticking with the Nexus 5 as well (presumably for those that don’t want a 6″ screen on their phone). Preorders for the Nexus 9 and Player start October 17, and will be released November 3, while the Nexus 6 will be available for preorder later this month, and released sometime in November.
Are you excited about all this?