With the Nexus 9 tablet now available and the Nexus 6 on its way soon, Android 5.0, also known as “Lollipop,” is now officially out.
Here’s what you will need to know about Google’s three biggest changes to Android in its latest release.
The biggest update to Android is its overall look, what Google refers to as ‘Material Design’.
In Lollipop, every element on screen is meant to have depth, fluidity, and a purpose. This means there are more transition animations, touch animations, and different UI elements appear to be overlaid on top of what is “under” them, such as the menu that slides in from the left or the new compose icon that hovers over the bottom right of the screen in certain apps.
Material Design is also meant to be brighter and more colorful, so the dark colors of Google’s previous style—dubbed “Holo”—are replaced by a vibrant color palette that emphasizes bold and bright colors.
Also receiving a makeover in Lollipop is the recent apps interface, now known as “overview.”
It now resembles a carousel of cards showing much larger screenshots of recent apps. Also of note is a feature in Google’s mobile version of the Chrome web browser in which each open tab in Chrome is displayed as a separate card in overview. This feature is optional, though, so if you’re someone who tends to keep lots of tabs open in Chrome this can be turned off.
Notifications were also overhauled in Lollipop.
The biggest change to notifications is the new “heads up” format they take. When you receive a notification, rather than appearing in the status bar, it pops up as a small floating window near the top of the screen with the content of the notification.
So for instance, a text message would show the sender and the message (or at least the first few lines if it is a long message). Along with heads up notifications, you can finally see and have access to your notifications on the lockscreen, so you can quickly glance at your phone and see if the notification is worth looking into further without unlocking the device.
Finally, Google implemented a system-wide “quiet hours,” where you can silence notifications to prevent interruptions. The duration is configurable, so you can turn off notifications just for the duration of a movie, overnight so you can sleep without your phone chirping in the middle of the night, or even indefinitely if you prefer. You can also set up a priority mode in which only certain apps or contacts alert you.
At this point you may be wondering “When will I get Lollipop?”
The answer, unfortunately, depends on the manufacturer of your phone.
If you have a Nexus device from Google, you can expect to receive an update to Lollipop sometime in the next few weeks. The formerly Google-owned Motorola has said its recent devices will also receive Lollipop, and if history is any guide, that should happen within a month or so of Lollipop’s release.
Other manufacturers, namely HTC and Samsung, however, will be upgrading their handsets much later, as they make large modifications to Android. HTC has said it will have Lollipop on its devices within 90 days of its release, whereas Samsung has not given a timeline yet.
Please note, though, that in the cases of HTC and Samsung, some or all of these features may be changed or missing as both vendors are notorious for the drastic changes they make to Android.
Are you excited by the release of the new Android version?
Is there a particular feature you’re looking forward to the most?
Let us know in the comments!