Android L is a HUGE update that sees Google taking its already mature platform several steps further. The Big G has tightened up nearly every element of its mobile platform, refining the look and feel of Android across the board, as well as touching up back-end tools and protocols to make the platform even more efficient.
Android 5.0 Lollipop has now launched officially and will be initially available on a brand newNexus 6 phablet and Nexus 9 tablet. Motorola will be next to follow up with the updates and then soon we expect news from Samsung, HTC, Sony and all the rest.
We are also expecting the first wave of Android Lollipop custom ROMs from the likes of CyanogenMod will begin popping up during Q4 too. It should begin to happen once Google makes the source-code readily available, if that’s more your thing.
Android Wear is also a pretty significant addition to the Android fold too, and Google has made developing apps for wearables as easy as possible. At launch, Google confirmed developers would able to easily rejigg their applications with simple coding to leverage the growing number of wearable devices running Android Wear.
This move should ensure there are tons of applications and content available on wearable devices like the LG G Watch, Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live once they become more prevalent later on this quarter. Google I/O 2014 was certainly a memorable one, and if you want to know how Android Lollipop shapes up against Android 4.4? Look no further – we’re putting them head-to-head.
Android 5.0 Lollipop vs. Android KitKat: Design
The big news regarding Android Lollipop is the fresh look, dubbed “Material” by Google. While there are some similarities between Material and the look of “stock” Android KitKat, the designers at Mountain View are clearly forging a new path here, in purely aesthetic terms.
The flatness seen in KitKat is still present and correct, but it comes with a twist: realism. Animation is going to play a big part in the new design, and Android Lollipop will adopt real-time shadows to give its interface more depth and make it look a little more dynamic. The shadows are there because Android Lollipop will make much more use of layers in the UI, allowing developers to do all kinds of visual customisation within their apps.
Another big change is that the famous Android “soft” buttons have been given a face lift, and look even more stylish than before – even if they do call to mind the symbols we used to see on our old VCR players. Android Lollipop is clearly an update on the existing KitKat style, but Google is embellishing it with new visual tricks to make things even more alluring. From what we’ve seen, it strikes us as massive improvement over the often flat and uninspiring Android 4.4.
Android 5.0 L vs. Android KitKat: Security
Google has made massive strides with Android when it comes to overall security, coming up with innovations such as pattern unlocks and facial recognition. KitKat didn’t bring much new to the table in this respect, but it worked well enough. Android Lollipop’s big advance is going to be about making security more convenient, and it will do this using two methods: Android Wear and your current location.
In the first case, you can use your shiny new Android smartwatch as an authentication tool to automatically bypass your phone’s passcode when it detects the watch nearby. In the second example, you can designate safe zones – your home, for example – where your phone will switch off your lock code. While both of these features could potentially create a security risk, if someone steals your phone and your smartwatch, they have access to all of your personal data, for instance, but they will overcome the irksome issue of having to continually unlock your device every few minutes.
Android 5.0 L vs. Android KitKat: Notifications
Notifications have been Android’s strong suit since day one, and Google is making them even better in Android Lollipop. The big change here is that they’re being integrated into the lock screen – something Google previously experimented with when it developed lock screen widgets which allowed you to view emails and events without actually unlocking your phone.
As well as making notifications the first thing you see when you pick up your handset, Google is working on making them smarter when the phone is in active use. For example, in KitKat a call would totally interrupt whatever activity you were involved in, be it reading a book, browsing your emails or playing a game. In Android Lollipop, events such as these will pop up at the top of the screen, a la Samsung’s Galaxy S5, meaning you can choose to jump to that event or ignore it with a quick tap without leaving your current task.
Compared to Android 4.4, notifications are going to be smarter, more intuitive and less intrusive than before. KitKat’s notifications system is decent enough, but it was basically recycling what had come before, so it’s good to see some out-of-the-box thinking from Google in this respect.
Android 5.0 Lollipop vs. Android KitKat: Battery Life
Project Butter was Google’s way of making Android feel smoother and slicker, and now the company has revealed Project Volta – a system which will provide developers with a better means of determining what elements of their apps are draining battery at an unnecessary rate. Because Volta will open up the battery stats to devs, they can tinker with their code to make apps more efficient and spot potential problem areas.
Android Lollipop will also take a leaf out of HTC and Samsung’s books by coming with a battery saving mode by default. This will help users get as much mileage out of each charge as possible by throttling certain functions when juice is low. Such improvements will ensure that Android L is leaps and bounds ahead of KitKat, which only offers basic stats on what process is gobbling up the most power.
Android L is coming very soon. For a full update on the full Android Lollipop platform be sure to check out our full round up here