Android Lollipop: The sweetest flavor of Android yet

There was a lot of debate over what Android 5.0 would be called. A lot of names were suspected like Lemon Meringue Pie, Liquorice etc. But in the end, the adorable Lollipop won.

We were first shown a sneak peak of what Lollipop would be during I/O ’14 and a rather bumpy developer preview. Lollipop is poised to have a new design dubbed “Material” design —  inspired by paper and natural light. The aesthetic is meant to look both flat and 3D.

Features

Lollipop is a vast improvement over Kitkat and fixes a lot of annoyances with Kitkat. While there are over 5000 new APIs and a lot of new features, we’re gonna go over a few features here:

Material Design

Google defines Material design as “Realistic natural motion, realistic lighting and shadows, and familiar visual elements make it easier to navigate your device”. Material design is based a philosophy that every animation has to originate from somewhere. Any element on the screen doesn’t appear out of nowhere but originates from the screen. The resultant is a colorful mix of two and three dimensional elements.

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Overall the design is a lot more clean and beautiful. They’ve also introduced a new improved form of the Roboto font.

The new visuals aren’t just limited to colors and UI elements, Google has gone so far as to change the icons, and add much smoother animations and features, all of which create a consistent interface.

App Pinning

You can pin apps by enabling it in the security menu. This makes a small pin icon appear at the bottom of each card in the recent apps screen. To lock the phone to a single app, simply open it, then hit the multitasking button, press the pin at the bottom, then your phone asks for confirmation. If you’ve got a PIN or pattern lock, you can also select the option here to require that code to leave pinned mode.

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This feature is useful if you want to lend someone your phone but don’t want them to fiddle around with the other stuff on your phone. However the issue is that the person could actually get out of the pinned app because the system displays instructions on how to unpin the page and access the rest of the phone by pressing the new and back buttons simultaneously, which defeats the point of the feature.

Multiple User profiles

A feature initially introduced in Jelly Bean but was later removed in Kitkat. Finally Google added Multiple user profiles in Lollipop. The setup can be done quite simply right from the Quick Settings menu. You can add a guest or a new user. You can also switch users from the Quick Settings.

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This is a great feature if you use your phone in many different settings, like work or private life, or if children or siblings use the same phone. Each user profile’s space can be configured individually.

Battery Saving and Project Volta

When Lollipop’s new power saving mode ”Battery Saver” is activated, the navigation and status bar changes to orange instead of changing according to the app. This new feature takes a bit of getting used to as the colors are kept this way throughout the entire UI, it seems to be the system’s way of informing the user that a limited amount of resources are currently being used.

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Google’s Project Volta contains a bunch of tweaks and enhancements to Android to improve Battery life. It includes a more accurate way to measure which app uses how much battery and makes applications use less battery.

Enhanced Notifications

Lollipop introduces new ways to control when and how you receive messages. The notification panel is merged with the lockscreen. And now you can view your notifications on the lockscreen. Lollipop will also learn from your actions, working out what you look at and interact with more often to prioritize that notification.

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Another big change is heads-up notifications i.e, whenever you get a notification it shows a small non-intrusive popup that goes away in a small interval of time.

Improvements to PERFORMANCE

Lollipop is a big improvement over Kitkat in terms of performance. Lollipop uses the ART runtime instead of the older Dalvik runtime.

Google claims ART brings a 4x performance improvement over Dalvik. While Dalvik compiles apps during runtime, ART compiles apps when they are installed. This results in a huge performance boost but might increase app size,

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The biggest benefit to users comes that this won’t require apps to be readjusted in order to benefit, instead all apps with benefit from ART right away. ART is also more memory efficient than Dalvik meaning that apps that are running in the background will benefit from megabytes of saved data. ART is also 64-bit compatible allowing Android L to benefit from the larger number registers, cross platform support and the increased RAM support that 64-bit architecture supports.

Conclusion

With Lollipop getting released on Nexus devices on November 3rd we’re excited to see how it holds up in practice.

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