Getting a First Taste of Android 5.0 Lollipop

By Jim Rapoza | Small Business

Getting a First Taste of Android 5.0 Lollipop image android lollipop 150x150.pngGetting a First Taste of Android 5.0 LollipopOver recent months, Apple has had the smartphone spotlight shining brightly on it, no surprise given the major releases of the iPhone 6 line, along with iOS 8, Apple Pay and the Apple Watch. But Android based phones have a much larger share of the overall smartphone market (close to 80% according to some research) and with the new release of Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google has introduced probably the most significant upgrade to Android in several years.

In this article, Tech Pro Essentials’ Editorial Director Jim Rapoza and Aberdeen Group research analyst Sean Butler take a look at the new Android operating system and analyze some of the key new capabilities and features of Lollipop.

Material Design

Jim: Probably the biggest change in Android Lollipop is the introduction of an entire new interface and UI principle called Material Design. As is the case in the new versions of iOS, Material Design brings a flatter, more streamlined and sparser look to Android phones. More interestingly, Material Design is focused on feedback to user actions, for example, animations that respond to touches and swipes in a very specific manner. One change in Material Design that users will need to get accustomed to is seeing less information in the screen. For example, Gmail in Material Design displays fewer messages and interaction buttons in the main screen. It will also remain to be seen how much of Material Design is adopted by the various Android phone providers.

Sean: As Android Lollipop slowly matriculates its way out to all of the Android devices on the market, it will bring a UI overhaul with it that will change the way users can interact with the device. Android moving to their new Material Design is their way of combating the fact that Apple is the prettier interface. Does it work? I don’t think it is quite on the same level as iOS 8 just yet, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and I think the update is much needed to bring the Android interface on par with other mobile operating systems out there. Windows and Apple have put a lot into the entire design and feel of their interface, Android’s focus in this area with the latest release does show that they are listening to what users are drawn to. As phones become more and more an integral part of our lives, people will have higher expectations of interfaces so this is a smart decision Android.

Jim: Also from a user interface perspective, Lollipop brings better in app multitasking capabilities. Instead of just being able to switch between apps, users can now easily move between screens and tabs within apps. Also, the multiple user guest mode that has been available in Android tablets is now included in the smartphone interface as well, useful for when you need to loan out the phone to family and friends.

New Notifications

Jim: Android has always been the leader when it comes to the richness and amount of notifications it shows for actions and events on the phone. In Lollipop, these are increased even further, centralizing all notifications from the system and apps and easing management and responses to these notifications. People who like to be able to easily manage all notifications will like these changes, but those who already find the number of notifications to be a bit much may find the changes overwhelming.

Sean: The new notification management that Android has created is very impressive. In a world where every application produces notifications, this is a leap forward in managing them for Android. Being able to prioritize notifications so only notifications I care about will interrupt me while I’m cruising around Facebook, or changing my playlist in Spotify, will make a big difference in the way that applications are experienced, especially for those users that are easily distracted. Android has acknowledged that it’s good for applications to create notifications, but users should have more control over when and where they appear, and the changes in Lollipop are a very positive step forward for the OS. The new style of the notification is also very clean and falls in line with the paradigm Android is pushing with the new Material Design.

Battery Power

Jim: Potentially the most welcome new capability in Android Lollipop will be better battery power management. Combining new capabilities with power saving features that handset makers have added to Android, the new Battery Saver mode both provides more information on power usage and works to ensure that less power is used by the device. Beta testers have seen higher than 30% increases in battery life simply by adding Lollipop to an existing phone.

Sean: In today’s world, where many people feel the need to have chargers with them everywhere in fear of their phone battery dying, any strides that are made in allowing the battery to last longer are positive. Android’s “Project Volta” starts making some pretty smart decisions for you to prolong the dreaded moment where your phone turns off and cannot be turned back on without getting to a charger. The project gives developers increased awareness of battery usage so they can make smarter decisions with their applications to avoid becoming the dreaded battery killing app. On top of this, Android turns down the CPU and reduces the refresh rate of the screen to help extend battery life for an additional 90 minutes in their standard battery saver mode.

Corporate Data Separation

Sean: Android’s latest feature for enterprises is an attempt to separate the personal phone from the corporate device. IT departments will embrace this as a chance to have some built-in protection on the device in business only areas, while end-users will take comfort that their texts and pictures from that crazy weekend in Vegas will not be interspersed with their work emails and texts. Google seems to be targeting Blackberry with this feature that is more or less targeted at the enterprise, and they aren’t the only Android player to be making a move into this space. Samsung introduced Knox not so long ago, so it will be interesting to see how this progresses and if Android will be making a play to become the new default phone of the enterprise.

Jim: Other new features in Android Lollipop include support for USB audio, making it possible for headphones and audio devices to connect via USB for higher fidelity (though put me down as one person who doesn’t want to see the headphone jack disappear). Also, a new Tap and Go feature is designed to ease migration of data and content to a new phone.

Probably the biggest drawback to Android Lollipop is just getting it. While iOS users can get new operating systems as soon as they are released, Android users will need to wait days, weeks or even months until their specific phones offer the new Android OS.

For more on new trends in mobility, read the Aberdeen report Enterprise Mobility Management: Changing it Up With CYOD

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Getting a First Taste of Android 5.0 Lollipop

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