Google showed off the latest iteration of its mobile operating system, code named Android L its its Google I/O Keynote Conference 2014 on Wednesday, where it termed the latest OS to be its most ambitious Android release yet. A new UI design, a new runtime, enhanced notification capabilities and energy efficiency are some of the features in Android L that end users can expect to see.
Top Features in Android L
UI Overhaul with Material Design
The Android L UI gets a complete overhaul from its predecessor, giving opportunity for users to get a consistent user experience no matter what type or size of Android device they use. It is based on Material Design, a visual, motion, and interaction design guide for developers to develop their apps for various platforms and devices.
The Material Design features a new Material theme that provides a new style for your app, two new widgets for displaying complex views, and new API’s to create custom animations for touch feedback.
The UI is designed to be visually appealing, with bold typography and colorful animations providing a realistic and interactive experience when transitioning between screens or navigating with buttons. The use of automatic shadows, light, and simple shapes is expected to add more depth and dimension to the screen elements.
Notifications that you get at the top of your screen will have a floating effect in Android L. They are called “heads up” and they will appear at the top of whatever app you are using. You can take immediate action by either dismissing it or interacting with it. The dynamic notifications are meant to save you the trouble of opening up the notification area to take action.
You can also decide which of your notifications show up on the lock screen and how much of details they can reveal. The notifications will no longer be displayed in chronological order, but in a manner that the OS considers to be more important to you.
New Lock Screen
The lock screen gets a new look with the ability to display recharge times when plugged to a power source. Swiping to the left will open the camera, swiping to the right will open the Dialler, swiping down will open the Quick settings, and swiping up will unlock the phone.
Health and fitness tracking has been gaining importance and Google Fit is Google’s answer to Apple’s HealthKit. Nike, Adidas, and Runkeeper are just some of the few brands that are working with Google to help users monitor and track their heart rate, calorie intake and other fitness information.
The App Switcher now lists apps in a stacked form rather than in a list. You can close the apps by swiping them or by tapping on the close button.
Your Android L device will be able to detect when it is in a trusted environment so that you don’t have to trouble yourself with unlocking your device. For instance, the presence of a smartwear or a Wi-Fi point will indicate the presence of a trusted environment allowing you to use your phone without having to unlock it.
Project Voltra for Better Battery Life
Smartphones may be getting smarter feature-wise, but battery life continues to be an issue. Android L doesn’t make it any better, but at least it lets you extend your battery life when it reaches a certain point. For instance, you can set the feature to kick in when your battery reaches 5%, 10%, 15% or 20% and your device will then be able to extend your battery life for up to 90 extra minutes.
Do Not Disturb
Do Not Disturb, a popular iOS feature comes to Android allowing users to silence notifications and incoming calls for a certain number of hours. It also affords users the option to allow calls and messages from certain contacts to come through. Also users are free to set different Do Not Disturb options for text messages and phone calls.
ART Runtime and Android Extension Pack
Google is moving on to a new runtime, ART which will enable apps to load faster while using lesser RAM. ART is also 64-bit compatible and can work across hardware architectures such as ARM and X86. ART runtime together with the latest Android Extension Pack sets the stage for improved graphical and performance capabilities in gaming. Tessellation, geometry shaders and texture compression features will ensure that PC and console quality gaming can now become a reality on the mobile platform.
Google is expected to release Android L before the end of the year and smartphone makers could well be launching new devices running Android L at about the same time. HTC for one is already committed to bringing Android L to its family of Ones and other companies will no doubt follow suit.