Android has undergone a lot of changes over the last few years and it’s about to undergo even more with the arrival of Android L later this year. Google has already given developers an early look at the new platform and here’s what’s new and what’s changed in the latest and hopefully greatest version of Android.
The whole look of Android is changing with Android L. It’s getting a makeover known as ‘Material Design’ which makes it cleaner, flatter and more colourful than ever but it’s also going for a more seamless look, with animations taking you between apps for example rather than app switching just happening with no transition.
You’ll also get a lot more feedback in general, with more animations and ripple effects whatever you’re doing, providing a richer, more three dimensional experience.
It looks good going by the developer preview and it also falls in line with the look of Android Wear, while Google is also giving developers access to its Material Design API’s so third party apps can fit in with the look too. So you’ll have a consistent experience across apps and devices, that is, if manufacturers don’t go overboard on their smartphone skins.
Google has been working on making Android as smooth as possible even on low end hardware and Android Lollipop continues that mission. It uses the ART runtime as standard which is not only 64-bit compatible but also faster and more efficient than what’s currently being used, so expect Android to get even slicker.
Google is also adding Project Volta, which focuses on battery life by adding a battery saver mode. Many handsets have these anyway, but stock Android doesn’t right now, so soon all handsets will be able to get a battery boost. Project Volta also helps developers see in detail how their apps are affecting the battery life, allowing them to more easily fix problems and minimise the battery hit.
Notifications are coming to the lock screen, meaning you can see upcoming calendar events, missed calls and the like all without having to unlock your phone. They’re also getting smarter as Android will try and prioritise which notifications to show you based on importance.
The lock screen is also getting smarter, as you can set it up to not require a password if for example you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi network or a specific Bluetooth device, such as a smartwatch.
Android Lollipop will also allow your smartphone or tablet to communicate directly with compatible smart televisions, so you can use your device as an advanced remote control, a bit like you can with Chromecast now, except the functionality will be baked right into your television itself.
A number of other options and updates are coming as part of Android Lollipop too. Multiple user accounts will be supported and you’ll be able to set up temporary guest accounts too, so you can lend or share your device without compromising your privacy.
Additional controls such as a flashlight are being added to quick settings, audio and video performance will be improved and a new range of camera features are incoming, such as support for raw file formats.
If you have a device with digital signal processing, such as the Nexus 6 or Nexus 9, then you’ll be able to launch Google Now by saying ‘OK Google’ even when the screen is off and if your device supports it you’ll also be able to turn the screen on just by picking it up or tapping the screen twice.
While it’s not been confirmed we may also see floating windows, as these were found in a developer build and shared by Terence Tuhinanshu on Google Plus.
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