When it comes to holiday shopping, the majority of “must have” items of the year are in the tech sector. Whether you want to tuck a LeapFrog learning tablet into your toddler’s stocking, or the newest Samsung smartphone into your own, there’s no doubt that tech is where it’s at this holiday season.
Right on time, Google started rolling out their new addition to the Android OS family to select devices in recent weeks, giving select users the chance to sample Lollipop before it becomes the stock OS on new devices this holiday season. There are tons of new features and additions, some of which may make this the best Android update yet.
The first thing anyone who picks up a Lollipop device will notice is Google’s new aesthetic. Called Material Design, this new design is present not only on the main launch or home screens, but creates a cohesive, standard image everywhere the OS is in use. There are also plans to roll out the new aesthetic through all Google platforms and devices, meaning that a Gmail account will look the same on your desktop as it does on your new smartphone—or will eventually.
The best thing about Material is the simplicity of the new design. While many Android manufacturers use proprietary skins to customize the look of their specific device, Samsung’s Nexus series has thus far been happy with the new design, allowing it to appear the way that Google intended on all the devices featuring the updated OS.
Possibly the most important update to Android devices brought in by Lollipop, Project Volta the smartest phone even smarter by changing how it utilizes power in different modes, timing apps to run in the background only when completely necessary, and putting the rest to bed. According to Know Your Mobile, this could extend the battery life of your device—and not just by an extra fifteen minutes on the drive home from work, but by a noticeable margin, and even on the most power-hungry devices.
In fact, experiments with the new OS offered some tech-heads as much as two extra hours of runtime. This might not sound like much in comparison to the extended battery life on one of Motorola’s Maxx devices, which sell based on the extra power, but these experiments were run on a Nexus 5. Infamous for poor battery life since its 2013 release, Volta could be the saving grace for this otherwise excellent mobile device, converting more people to the Android side of the Force.
This one is all about the tablet users; in recent years, Google has let their OS functionality on tablet computers fall by the wayside, limiting the use of certain apps and allowing broken dimensions on others, damaging the tablet experience altogether. Not only does Material roll out onto tablets, making them more user friendly for users accustomed to using a smartphone, but Lollipop is meant to be shared—without swapping digital germs in the process.
Finally, Android OS allows multiple user accounts to be created on the same device, allowing custom preferences, browsing histories and Google accounts to apply to each account. Users can even choose which apps will display in the given account, meaning that it’s finally possible to pick up a tablet for the whole family to share this Christmas without worrying about anyone getting into any accounts linked to the device. Whether you’re managing your online storefront on Shopify or browsing YouTube for the newest viral videos, your account is yours alone. Accounts are secure, with zero crossover between preferences, and allow multiple users to set up the device their own way without stepping on each other’s toes. This, if nothing else, makes Lollipop a great addition for Android tablets everywhere, and really locks in its place as a great new feature to look for this holiday season.
So Much More
There’s a lot more to Lollipop than meets the eye, even with the complete design overhaul offered by Android 5.0. With everything from updated facial recognition to make unlocking faster to notifications now viewable from the lock screen, this is on gift that keeps on giving—so do some research if you’re looking to pick up a new smartphone or tablet on the cheap this Christmas season.
And don’t worry about having to buy the newest, most advanced smartphone to get the new OS: Ars Technica reports that the Nexus 4 is now being produced with Android Lollipop from jump; considering the phone was originally released in 2012, this sweet update to the already solid construction proves that older models aren’t going to be left in the dust. Why should you? Make sure your newest devices are running the best to really make the new year bright.