At Google’s most recent developer conference in San Francisco the company revealed its new mobile OS. The Android update is dubbed “L” or Lollipop and it sits within an emerging range of interconnected Google devices and software ensuring ease of communication between devices.
Let’s have a look then at some of the new approaches to the Android OS and how those may better the experience of this mobile software. This is this is the biggest Android update in a very long time.
Android 5.0 (or L) looks very different to the current Android 4.4 interface. L is much more vibrant than the current Android OS and it uses interface layers to provide a sense of depth.
The new interface on Android’s L is called Material and it looks markedly different to recent trends in mobile UI design. Everything has been about making icons appear flat and simple. Material is definitely simplistic in design but it’s not flat.
Android 5.0 L introduces real-time generated shadows for elements of the mobile interface. It adds a great aesthetic to the OS and it provides some of the visual tactility of iOS 7.
Better communication between devices
Google wants Material to be an OS that integrates easily with tablets, desktops, and laptops. Really Google wants to have that seamless out-of-the-box communication between devices that has always been Apple’s calling card. The iPhone, iPad, and MacBook will soon have stiffer competition from Google’s own equivalents – this even extends to Apple TV as Android TV is on its way.
The idea it seems is to develop a Google universe and the Android portable, mobile platform will be just one of many novel, innovative, and well integrated Google devices.
Better and redesigned Gmail
Google apps have received much the same treatment as the Android interface. Everything has been redesigned and updated. Gmail is no exception and colour has been injected into the Gmail application. The appearance is now much cleaner and much more modern.
The squared off edges of the traditional Gmail application icon have been rounded off and upgraded to a circular form.
This updated interface can also be seen in the new lock screen notifications. Notifications will now show up as a little bar across the screen rendered in high-contrast making them crystal clear. There are now four different notification areas meaning that multiple messages can be displayed on the lock screen at the same time.
Android is now 3D
This is really just a minor stylistic tweak but now in Android 5.0 the multitasking menu appears as a 3D cascade of app tiles. This replaces the 2D scroll of apps and it looks quite similar to the tabs screen on Android’s Chrome browser.
Chrome looks much cleaner on Android – its sharper, simpler, and utilizes those new real time shadows.
Google search is now better integrated
Developers can now have specific and integrated links to their laps appearing in the place of websites on web searches. Users will now be able to head directly to a specific part of an app straight from the Chrome browser on your phone.
Again this isn’t a particularly new feature but it does increase its exposure. Now it’s available to developers in general and as it comes from Google you don’t have to worry about being linked to a dodgy app. Just like it does with its search results for generic websites, it will also rank good applications more highly than others.
64-bit CPU support
This isn’t a surprise really and developers were well aware that this would be introduced in 2014. 64-bit CPUs will now be designed to work with Android devices.
This will make a big difference to the functionality and speed that Android phones work at. This upgrade will let many more instructions take place simultaneously and having 64-bit CPUs will ensure that Android devices can make much more use of the pre-installed RAM.
Smartwatch as authentication
A really nice touch is the ability to utilise Android Wear watches to bring your Android 5.0 L phone out of standby. Android Wear works as an authentication tool meaning you won’t need a password to unlock your phone if you’re wearing your watch.
There’ll also be some new battery features including a reworked Batter Saver mod. Android 4.4 falls behind the competition here as phones like the Galaxy S5 have very well developed power-saving modes – the current Android 4.4 battery saver is fairly rudimentary to say the least.
With the updates to Android mobile OS on the way and the new applications in the form of Android TV, Android Wear, and Android Auto mark Google as a company with big designs. The new Google universe is one that intends to compete with Apple for the lion share of users’ digital experiences and lives.