Recently Google, at their annual developers conference Google I/O 2014, gave an early look at the next iteration of their Android OS, code-named “Android L” to attract developers before it rolls out to the end-consumer.
Google abandoned its confectionary and pudding based naming system for their Android OS, revealing that the big release will be simply called Android L. But it still remains a secret as to what the next version of Android is going to be and what the ‘L’ stands for. The developer team didn’t even say whether the successor of Android Kitkat 4.4 is to be considered Android 4.5 or a 5.0 update.
But on the plus side, Google showcased lots of new features and improvements in their new update. Let’s take a closer look.w
The visual changes in the overall design are going to be really obvious, and one would clearly be able to tell the changes when using the stock version of the Android L OS.
The new theme of the UI is going to be what Google calls “Material Design” that takes the present Google Now cards system and adds shadows, depth and more layouts across the whole system, and is supposed to give the user clues as to how things work.
Each element has a distinctive “elevation level” that decides how high it can float over information panels. Animation effect come to play when you tap names in the Dialler, with “nested scrolling” that resizes tabs as you scroll.
The Notifications system is finally getting a major design overhaul in the Android L with transformation from the present grey list to a card based white tile system, which is going to be fully actionable right from the lock screen. Using new 3D layers, the posh new notifications now animate, pop out and expand and look much more impressive. The “heads-up” notification system adds a live overlay to games while being played in full screen mode without interrupting the action.
The Search is redesigned too, with Google bringing a cards approach to Google Now’s web searches. Results are displayed in a card stack format, complete with beautiful animation at 60fps to transition between elements.
Other fairly big changes are tweaks in Multitasking menu. A complete visual overhaul turns it into more of a rolodex type affair while other changes being the inclusion of Chrome tabs appearing in the list.
And the on screen navigations buttons too are changed, with a triangle replacing the Back arrow, a circle for home replacing the pentagon and a simple square for recent apps menu.
The change is not just for the Android L, but Google want to apply these design ethics across all of its products, including the desktop Google Drive app.
The new Android for Work system will allow users to have multiple app instances on one device, separating work app data and home app data. The certified Android for Work programme is coming this autumn, with some features to be available on versions of Android older than the Android L update.
The new Personal Unlocking feature learns where you are and the other devices that you use, even your voice print, as a method of verifying you as the owner of the device. When this feature is active, the phone makes sure it’s you using in a location you usually use it, and devices which you usually use are attached to it, allows you to bypass the PIN-protected lock screen.
Somewhat synonymous to what Apple showcased at WWDC 2014 with their Continuity features in iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite, Google is finally looking into linking its Chrome – OS ambitions with the Android ecosystem more deeply, with new features in the Android L update enabling a Chromebook to tell when a user is nearby and have the laptop sign in automatically, quite similar to Personal Unlocking.
Google at their developers’ conference demonstrated the ChromeOS notifications that can display SMS texts, call details and even battery warnings on a Chromebook.
For Developers (Behind the Scenes)
For an end-user, battery life is one of the biggest concerns for any and every type of smartphone. Google’s Android Team addressed this problem, with a solution termed as “Project Volt”, – modifications to the code, which when running Android L, Google suggests to see up to 90 minutes of extra uptime on the Nexus 5. Developers will also have access to a Battery Historian feature to analyze consumption by apps, and troubleshoot high-drain issues.
Also a huge change has been made, with Google switching to its experimental ART runtime, from the long running Dalvik runtime. ART is much more memory efficient and is fully 64-bit compatible.
For the end-user, there won’t be any difference in their phone operates, though Google claims to have up to two-folds increased performance in some situations, that too without any hassle for the developers.