Android Lollilop-5.0: Arguably the Most Important Update by Google since 2008.

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  • 5 years ago
  • Posted: January 19, 2015 at 11:46 am

Okay, before I indulge you in an interesting review of this change-all software update by the Google brothers, I would be remiss if I did not poke at the chosen name-who sits down and comes up with these names, not that am complaining, but it would be unequivocally disturbing if I had to describe an operating system like HATP-1324 while bantering away with friends, so Google’s strategy to assign fun names is quite laudable, I pretty much love the names (there is much excitement when it comes to software updates, the thought that your device will be running differently is always something to look forward to). So, to carry on, what’s so fancy about this lovely lollilop thingy, ooh I think I gave it away, yes it’s lovely, why, let’s see:

-Android 5.0 or Lollilop is quite sleeker, faster, and shows much kindness to your battery. It succeeds the previous version-Android 4.4 KitKat.

-Android 5.0 brings a significant design alteration; yet still giving you that Android experience that you so much and appreciate like me. The most obvious change in Lollipop is the fresh design aesthetic, called Material. It changes virtually every single thing about how Android looks, from the set-up menu, app drawer and notification shade to animations and icons. Even the onscreen back, home and recent app buttons look different; they’re now simple geometric shapes (simplicity is the ultimate sophistication). Though Material is a significant design shift, you’ll likely see the most extreme changes only on Nexus devices because smart-phone manufacturers often use “custom skins” to adapt or alter the look of Android. Material, so simple a name yet gives you a feeling of new beginnings and aside from the fresh look, it is meant to add responsive, natural motion, realistic lighting and shadows. To this effect, the touch interface is quite exquisite, case in point, when you reach the end of a menu; you immediately note a clear gray that moves as you do the same to your finger, neat! As a matter of factly, Google ensures that as you press your buttons it triggers grey shading that radiates outward, indicating that the device has registered your touch.

When you access the App drawer, you are constantly bombarded with animations that seem to be everywhere with condensing and expanding effects when you exit or enter the App drawer respectively. There is also a zooming effect when you swipe to unlock the screen and a sliding animation when you swipe downwards from the top of the display to observe the notifications and the quick settings menu.

What you will tend to notice with Material is that it is very bohemian, that is artistic by using rich and bright color, therefore abandoning the skeumorphistic form and going for artistically trendy and digital look. In case you wondering, skeumorphism is a design concept that takes its cues from the real, physical world, a term most commonly applied to UIs (User Interfaces), where much of the design has traditionally targeted to recall the real world-for instance, the use of a letter symbol for email. Another thing you’ll note is the ’pranciness’ or playfulness of the illustrations throughout the Google Apps.

If you have used a device running of Lollilop, then you have most likely seen the card theme that Google so fondly applies and which has become part of the delightful Android experience. The card design theme is where notifications, the App drawer, and text in many Apps are placed on their own card that is then laid on top of a contrasting background and it was made popular in Google Now, becoming so efficiently part of the Android lifestyle.

Ultimately, all the changes you observe in the Apps, email and calendar (which by the way have gotten the most tweaks or changes by completely having different layouts), the myriad whimsies you see in the menu bars and the general features of the Android update are part of Google’s new strategy that is described as “material design”, a design aesthetic that will feature heavily in Google’s design eco-system such as desktops, wearables, etc. This means that Google has abdicated its 3-year old design language in favor of ‘Material’. Basically, everything with regard to Android Lollilop is a visual delight, bringing a sort of optical harmony within the features.

The notifications menu has mostly changed in design, not function, but that’s only a small part of the story. In reality, Lollipop fundamentally enhances the way we interact with Android notifications entirely. A key goal in Android 5.0 is to eliminate (or at least lessen) distractions to our daily workflow and make multitasking more efficient, and improving notifications goes a long way toward satisfying that goal. Notifications have always played a big role in Android, tucked away in a menu at the top of the screen that could be swiped out of sight. Lollipop keeps that same setup, but also adds notifications to the lock screen.

Each alert appears as a card that can be swiped down on to expand the message. You can also swipe to clear it away or tap it to interact it with it, which will open the corresponding app after you unlock the screen. To protect your privacy, you can control whether you get notifications from on the lock screen or not, and if those notifications reveal any sensitive data, such as the content of a text message. Notifications from any number of apps can now be filtered by priority on an app-by-app basis. Instead of letting any notification through, users can choose to let only important messages from favorite contacts to show or prevent any notifications from showing. Users can set up quiet periods through the day or week, or activate the feature on an ad hoc basis – not something that is new to Android devices, but the first time it has been integrated into the core Android experience. You know the card design also appears in the notification shade, which you swipe down from the top of any screen to reveal. A nifty new feature allows you to press and hold individual notifications to access the app’s notification controls.

Toggles and Features
Android 5.0 Lollipop adopts the dropdown home screen menu feature and brightness toggles we’ve seen in other Android phones for aeons! But here is the clincher; you might not notice that it’s there initially, nonetheless, usually, you swipe down from the top of the screen to bring down the standard notifications menu. Then you swipe down again to pull down the feature controls panel. The panel tends to be non-customizable, but you do get the basics such as the WIFI toggle, aeroplane mode, brightness slider, auto-rotate, flashlight, location, chromecast (castscreen), and Bluetooth.

Curiously though, there’s no silent mode. Instead, pressing the volume buttons brings up a little on-screen menu that lets you choose to silence all notifications – just non-important ones – indefinitely or for a selected number of hours.

Do Not Disturb or a Priority Option
The Do Not Disturb or Priority Setting means you can turn on with your device’s volume rocker or in settings and only shows the most important notifications. It means only calls, event reminders, text messages and alarms will get through. Google is now designating these types of alerts Interruptions, identifying and separating them from other App notifications. The priority mode can help pick Interruptions only from certain contacts (I think of pretty neat ways to use this feature, not to mention some of them might even be sinister). If you are not feeling up to it and do not wish to be ruffled by anything, including alarms, select “none” from the notification menu when you press the volume rocker, which will block everything, including Interruptions.

Hey There! Notification
Another addition is the HeyThere notification, which shows small pop-up alerts at the top of the screen. You can interact with or respond to the notification and then move on, without even needing to open the notification drop-down menu. Or, if you’d rather not deal with it right now, just swipe it up to store it in your notification menu for later.

Multitasking has also been enhanced with a new card system. Each app can show more than one card allowing users to switch to an open message or back to the inbox, for example – not just to one view in the app. Lollilop has done away with “recent apps,” a new menu called Overview shows apps that are running in the background as a stack of cards, instead of the previous list view, totally awesome! The design is akin to what you see when browsing open tabs on Chrome’s Android app, and you can scroll through the stack to shift between apps briskly. Additionally, Overview shows you multiple tasks within individual apps. For example, in Gmail, if you were drafting a new email as well as checking your inbox, Overview will have two Gmail tabs shown for these distinct tasks.
Obviously, it’s a much speedier way to browse open apps than the previous recent apps menu, which took up more space on the screen, and yet didn’t always show a legible preview of what was going on in the app. With Overview, you can easily see what you were last doing in each app. Although, my friend tells me that the only disappointing thing about this feature is that you cannot clear all recent tasks at once nor can you swipe away more than one app simultaneously. Thusly, I said to him in friendly duty that he swipes away each card contrary to tapping on the close “X” option as you might accidentally touch to open unintentionally.

Enter the Guest Mode
There is a possibility for you to create multiple accounts for you and other folk that you would entrust your phone with because of the multi-user profiles. Guest mode lets someone access only particular parts of your phone or tablet, precluding you from others. It’s a completely self-service model, meaning other people can be recognized as a guest without the owner being present. Once Guest mode is activated, only certain apps and content will be made available. Afterward, you can end their guest session and all account activity will be erased. What is even cooler is, you don’t even have to have your phone with you, find the nearest Lollilop device and access your data (it does save you from those infernal “where’s my phone awkward moments”, I tend to have much of those, so this is quite cool for me).

Saving your Charge
Lollipop adds a new Battery Saver mode, which clocks down the CPU, limits vibrations, reduces the ambient light and turns off background data when your device needs a little extra juice. You can turn it on manually or program it to turn on automatically when your battery drops too low, and Google says it can add up to 90 minutes of extra life. Android 5.0 switches from using the DALVIK runtime to ART. What this means is the way data is compiled to run an app is different, and it’s intended to both speed-up loading apps and switching between them, therefore much tougher for battery-draining applications.

64-bit System Architecture
The 64-bit architecture opens up the possibility for much more data to be handled at once. So, you are bound to have a slightly improved performance enhancement when you are using the device.

Smart-Lock is the new feature to enhance your security options by using any Bluetooth compatible device or an NFC (near field communication) tag. Therefore your device will automatically unlock when it’s close to a Bluetooth device or NFC tag.

Miscellaneous Specs
-NFC for migrating features. By simply tapping another Android device on the back will transfer settings, apps and accounts as long as both support near field communication (NFC), which almost every Android device will.
-Professional photographic capabilities such as control settings for the camera lens, flash, and sensor.
-Multilingual support.
-Enhanced multimedia performance.
Verdict: Hurrah! Google, Hurrah! But try it, you definitely get a handle on what Google was trying to achieve with Android Lollilop!

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Stefan Wolf
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