Android Lollipop: overview

Published on Dec 10, 2014 in Android Developers Resources
Android Lollipop

After being announced on Google I/O’s event last June, Android Lollipop has finally been launched. Until some months ago, Android’s new version was just known as Android L or Android 5. But following Android’s tradition of using candy names for its versions, some of the possible names people used for this new update included Lime Pie or Lollipop. Finally, Android made it official: Android 5.0 Lollipop is here.

The first devices to include Android Lollipop are the Nexus, beginning with the HTC Nexus 9.

We can summarize Android Lollipop’s innovations in five main parts: a new design (Material Design), intelligent notifications, improved battery life, performance and connectivity and better accessibility and security. As we expected, the renewed OS has a new design scheme including a completely redesigned interface, more fluid animations, features to improve battery life and, for the first time, compatibility with 64-bit processors.

Android Lollipop

Material Design

One of the most evident differences between Android’s previous version (KitKat) and Lollipop is its renewed design, called Material Design and which will be applied on every Google platform from now on.

The company called its pattern changes Material Design, and its aim is to create an attractive and fluid visual language for users. Material Design wants to offer a more intuitive user experience, providing a more colourful and responsive interface. To make it, Google offers developers all the resources they need to create adapted apps following the new design patterns. As a result, Android Lollipop looks more clear, fluid and natural, and definitely more pleasant for the eye. Design changes affect the icon designs, settings, position of the buttons, inbox, Google search, pictures gallery… The new colours are very important: they present plain tonalities, shadows and the text is written in the new Roboto typography, which is clearer. Now, everything is easier to see, even the smallest icons and texts. The icons on the lower bar changed too: the Back, Home and Recent Apps buttons have been changed for a triangle, a circle and a square.

The new design also includes new animations when opening apps and on the shut down screen (now gradually fading to black).

Intelligent notifications

The aim of intelligent notifications is to interrupt you just when it’s really necessary. So as Google always says, to provide you the right information right when you need it. In order to reach that goal, here are some of the things you’ll be able to do thanks to enhanced notifications:

  • See and answer messages directly from the lock screen, without having to unlock the device.
  • Use the new priority system, which lets you choose which notifications you want to “interrupt” you in every moment.
  • Incoming calls won’t cut what you’re doing anymore: now you can choose to answer the call or to keep doing whatever you were doing (surfing internet, playing a game, chatting on WhatsApp…)

The notification panel has changed remarkably, and from now on you’ll be able to select a “don’t disturb” mode which automatically deactivates all notifications and audio during set times. You will see the notifications on the centre of the lock screen as cards, so you’ll be able to reject them or directly access the app. Definitely: a more personalized way to manage notifications.

Improved battery life, performance and connectivity

Project Volta focuses on improving battery life, saving power and understanding how your app is using energy. This way, the device can show you information about the remaining time until the battery is fully charged or empty, and it can automatically activate a battery saver mode when your battery drops below a certain percentage. Thanks to Project Volta, your battery can last up to 90 minutes more.

Android Runtime (ART) will substitute Dalvik as Android’s virtual machine. This implies an improved performance (four times better), a much more fluid interface, unification of services and apps in the background, improved debugging features, ahead of time compilation and faster garbage collection. In conclusion, thanks to ART, we’ll have a faster, more fluid and optimized performance.

Lollipop also empowers wireless connections: now you can share on Android Beam, a service to share content via NFC. You’ll have the option at the “Share” menu. And with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) in peripheral mode, you’ll be able to communicate with near devices, which will optimize the power consumption.

Accessibility and security

Android Lollipop includes lots of features for multitasking: the most used settings are now more accessible, at just a swipe away on the top of the screen. Thus, for example you’ll be able to connect or disconnect Wi-Fi faster and more easily, with just a tap. And apps will appear on a cards style, so you can switch between each other just by sliding vertically.

Another important change is the keyboard: predictive text has been enhanced, and all the letters appear now in a row, without any spaces between them. Theoretically, this will make tapping easier.

One of Lollipop’s best innovations is the multi-user mode: with it, different users can manage the phone, and you can access your messages, pictures, contacts, etc. by signing-in in any Android device. You can also choose to access determinate content by asking a PIN, which guarantees your privacy at every moment, even if the device is used by several users. This is great for employees, who’ll now be able to have both personal and work uses in a single device. You can also see how much data is consuming each user.

For users with sight problems, Lollipop provides a new colour correction option.

As for security, Android Lollipop includes:

  • SELinux, which provides you more protection against malware.
  • Android Smart Lock, which lets you protect your phone or tablet by pairing it up with other of your devices, like wearables or your car.
  • Google Protection Factory Reset: in case of loss or robbery, this feature allows you to reset the phone with its original settings, incapacitating the phone.
  • Automatic encryption to save your data in case of loss.
Android Lollipop

Other improvements

  • Better audio and multimedia. Lollipop includes lots of advanced camera capabilities, including: ISO sensitivity, exposure time, high resolution with 30fps, support for RAW and settings for the sensor and flash.
  • Android Lollipop comes in 15 new languages.
  • More compatibility with the Android ecosystem, including Android TV. Thanks to this synchronization, you’ll be able to have your old apps automatically in a new device signing-in in your Google account. You can also auto configure your new Android device with the old one via NFC.
  • Fix the screen and protect it with an unlock pattern: this means that you can’t leave the app you’re in even if you press the Home or Back buttons. This is useful if you let the phone to someone else and you just want them to have access to that app, but not to the rest of your personal area.
  • Access to the settings of each app from its notification.
  • See how much RAM memory are consuming the apps you’re using.
  • You can use the “OK Google” voice action to access Google Now from any screen, not just the main one, and even with the screen shut down.
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