Android OS by Google reached its current dominant position in the mobile OS market primarily by three factors, 1st one, an open source environment to work with, 2nd one, Google’s backing, and last but not the least, the app ecosystem.
Recently, Google took the wraps off the new major version of Android. Namely, Android 5.0, Lollipop. The largest change in Android 5.0 is to the overall design philosophy of the Operating System, and accompanying that is several under the hood changes for better performance, stability and battery life.
In this post, we go through the top 5 changes in Android 5.0 Lollipop.
See Also: Marshmallow vs Lollipop »
1. Material Design
Material Design is Google’s brand new design philosophy for its brand new Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Material Design places more stress on animating pretty much everything which happens on the display, so that nothing randomly appears out of nowhere, everything is animated, and everything. Objects on the screen are presented to the user without breaking the continuity of the user experience. It provides a much needed attention to detail in the entire user interface.
Material Design is also utilizing a layered user interface, and to give itself the dynamic look, it uses realistic lighting, shadows and dividers to differentiate between different layers. It also places emphasis on bold, vibrant colour schemes for a pleasing, colourful user experience.
2. Android Runtime
Android 5.0 Lollipop switches over to a spanking new app runtime, known as Android Runtime, or ART in short. Google introduced Android Runtime as a work in progress runtime back in Android 4.4, but it has undergone several changes to become what it is now.
Android’s old Dalvik Runtime was a Just in Time or JIT Compiler design, in which activities were compiled when the user or the system requests for it. This led to a significant time spent in compiling activities every time, which meant more CPU usage and battery usage.
The new Android Runtime is an Ahead of Time or AOT Compiler design, in which apps and activities are compiled either during the install process or during the first launch. The AOT approach reduces time taken for launching apps, the RAM usage, CPU usage, and these, in turn, lead to a smoother, faster, efficient user experience and also a significant boost to the battery life.
In Android 4.4, ART was quite buggy, as not all apps could adapt to the AOT approach, and they would simply crash. After thousands of code changes to ART, in Android 5.0, ART has full backward compatibility for JIT Compilation, and several other changes, which allow pretty much any app to run without issues.
3. Revamped Notifications and Recent Apps
Google completely revamped the Notification system in their newest Android 5.0 Lollipop. It’s not exactly functionally different, it works pretty much the same way as older versions, but the major change is in the UI section.
Google introduced Lockscreen Notifications in this build of the Operating System, allowing you to quickly glance at your notifications without having to unlock your phone. You can also restrict or totally disable this feature for added security, so that strangers cannot see your notifications.
Google also added a Do Not Disturb mode with a Priority Notifications feature, which you can configure to allow calls and notifications from only selected contacts. You can set this feature to get enabled based on a certain timeframe everyday too.
Apart from these functional changes, the notification panel now has a layered design, with a fully transparent background, and tiles layered on top. It looks neat, and doesn’t affect functionality in any manner whatsoever.
The Recent Apps panel has also undergone a pretty major redesign, now having a card like UI, like we have seen in Google Chrome. It’s more user oriented, and designed to bridge the gap between local and cloud content even more. Chrome Open tabs are integrated in the recent apps switcher, which gives you the ease of switching between web content and local apps instantly. Also, content in the recent apps switcher persist over a reboot, which means you can get right back into work after reboot, without having to find what you were doing again.
4. Project Volta
Google added a huge series of changes under the codename Project Volta. Project Volta is primarily concerned about improving your device’s battery usage. The two major parts under Project Volta is a Battery Saver mode, and a Battery Historian.
The brand new Battery Saver mode is a user end feature. It turns the animations off, reduces screen brightness, reduces app sync cycles and underclocks the CPU and GPU of the device to save battery life. Google claims that if turned on at 15% battery life, it could potentially increase usage time by as much as 90 minutes. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have 1% battery left, and nowhere near a charger, you will need it.
Battery Historian is primarily a developer oriented tool, which allows developers to track device wakelocks, CPU usage and other battery parameters over time through Android Debug Bridge (ADB) and a PC. This was announced so that developers could optimize their own apps to use reduced CPU cycles and save battery. The python script is available directly from Google for developers right now.
Android 5.0 Lollipop’s Project Volta should bring significant battery savings in daily usage to users over time.
5. Improved Security
A big focus on this year’s new Android release, is improved security. Google introduced a huge number of changes which should make your device much more secure.
Starting off, Android 5.0 Lollipop will have a Kill Switch. In case your device is stolen, it is basically useless, if you cannot unlock it. Google has made sure that a locked device cannot even be factory reset in software or through recovery or even flashed via fastboot, which basically means that it’s a paperweight. For corporate users, who have sensitive data on their phone, this is a lifesaver.
Secondly, Android 5.0 Lollipop included full SELinux Support with enforcing set as default in kernel. SELinux stands for Security Enhanced Linux, and was started as a research project at NSA for securing Linux based servers against data theft and breach. For Android, this means that malicious apps cannot access the data and system partitions without explicit permission from the user end. Apps can be made to run in sandbox, so they cannot access anything other than their own user space. This makes the local data of the user much more secure than ever before.
Thirdly, Google added Trusted Devices and Trusted Faces feature in Android. This allows users to add face recognition based unlock for specific users, and device recognition. So, your device can unlock without a password when the face is recognized, or if say, it’s connected to your car or a wearable device. But when these conditions aren’t met, it will prompt you for a password.
There is also support for App Pinning, which allows users to lock the phone to a certain app. This is really useful say when you are giving the phone to someone for calling, and you don’t want them accessing other content.
Lastly, Google has extended Multi User mode from their tablets to all phones too, along with a guest mode. While not exactly a security feature, it allows various users to lock down their content, while still being able to be fully functional in their own accounts.
Android 5.0 Lollipop is a major Operating System update for Android. It has brought many revolutionary User Experience updates, as well as backend improvements for security, performance and battery. It marks a turning point for Android, with regards to many fields where it has been criticized before.
So for the final question, will your android device get Android 5.0 Lollipop? Here are the devices which have been confirmed so far to receive Lollipop:
1. Google (First of All)
- Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013), Nexus 10, Android One
- Nexus 5 and 7 2013 already have received final preview builds.
2. Motorola (90 Days After Release of 5.0)
- Moto X (1st and 2nd gen), Moto G (1st and 2nd gen), Moto E, Droid Ultra, Droid MAXX, Droid Mini
3. HTC (90 Days After Release of 5.0)
- One M8, One M7
- One Mini, One Mini 2, One Max, One E8, One E8 Eye (later than 90 days)
4. Sony (No Time Frame)
- Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3 Tablet , Xperia Z2, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z, Xperia ZL, Xperia ZR, Xperia Tablet Z, Xperia Z Ultra.
- Galaxy S5, Note 4, Note 3, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Alpha.
- Oneplus One
Many other devices will get Android 5.0 Lollipop for sure, but as of today, these are the devices which have been officially confirmed by the companies to receive Android 5.0 update.