The highly anticipated latest version of the Android mobile operating system — Android 5.0 Lollipop — is now being rolled out to current and new Android devices, and we wanted to take the chance to dive into what’s new in Android with a peak at a few of our favorite features.
First unveiled under the codename “Android L,” Android leads Sundar Pichai and Matías Duarte announced Lollipop back in June at the Google I/O developers’ conference with a presentation that focused around Lollipop’s responsive design language referred to as “material design.”
Google released Lollipop’s source code on November 3 (allowing manufacturers to begin working the firmware into their own devices), while Google’s own Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet were the first devices shipped with Lollipop. Android 5.0 updates are expected to be made available for the HTC One, Galaxy, and Xperia Z series of Android devices within the next couple weeks.
After playing around with the newly released firmware, we wanted to report on a few of our favorite features of Android 5.0 Lollipop to give you a better idea of what to expect with the upcoming updates:
Tap and Go
Android Lollipop makes it easier than ever to set up a new device with a new feature called “Tap and Go.” This process uses NFC to transfer account data and restore settings from another Android device simply by placing the two phones back-to-back and logging in with your Google account. Once authorized, just sit back and your new Lollipop device will automatically begin downloading your favorite apps and adjust your settings to match the reference device.
Lollipop refreshes the Android operating system’s iconic user interface in favor of a simpler layout with a flat style, bolder colors and larger typography. But the new UI goes beyond aesthetics with Google’s new philosophy of ‘Material Design.’
Material Design started with a seemingly innocent question:
What happens if you slide a surface element off the screen; what would be underneath?
To answer this question, Google thought in terms of what an interface is made of, rather than in terms of individual pixels to create the responsive UI.
Introduced first by Lollipop, the new Material Design interface will make its way to most of Google’s software and incorporates animations and drop shadows that make elements of a screen feel – and move – like physical pieces of paper. On Android Lollipop, you can see where everything you move onto the screen ‘comes from’ and ‘goes to’ as pieces swipe in from the side, rotate and grow, or collapse revealing what was ‘underneath’ that menu or widget.
This next one holds a special place for us and Apptentive’s mission around improving customer communication. Android Lollipop makes notifications and alerts smarter and customizable with a number of enhancements, including:
- Lockscreen notifications – View and respond to unread notifications straight from your lockscreen.
- Prioritization of notifications – See your most important notifications first as Android 5.0 shifts the notifications it thinks you’ll find the most important to the top of the notifications screen, replacing its traditional chronological ordering with an automated prioritization schema.
- Individual filtering of notifications – Take charge of your busy notifications screen by adjusting your settings so that only certain notifications and people get through.
- Increased control over sensitive information – Choose what content makes its way to your notifications by adjusting your settings to filter out sensitive information.
These enhancements turn notifications from annoyances to desired and valuable content, customizable to what you want to see and how you want to see it. (And we say it’s about time!)
Similar to a home computer, Android Lollipop allows you to add users and create a guest account for your phone. This allows you to loan your phone to a friend, colleague, etc. without worrying about sensitive information, charges from apps loaded with your secure billing information, or accidental changes to your settings. Simply set up a new user account or a generic guest account, and hand your friend a cleared device that they can customize by downloading and installing apps, setting wallpapers, and rearranging the home screen – all without affecting other user accounts. Once your phone has been returned, you can end the guest session and all guest activity will be erased and ready for the next guest.
Android Lollipop further facilitates device sharing by introducing app pinning to lock the screen on a single app, disabling home screen navigation. This feature allows you to confidently hand over your phone for someone to make a quick call without worrying about them poking around in your messages or other apps. It’s also great for keeping a child entertained with Lollipop’s own Flappy Bird clone (and coincidentally, our sixth favorite feature) without worrying about accidental calls or purchases.
Have you tried out Android 5.0 Lollipop? If so, let us know what you think and what features you’d add to this list!