Earlier this afternoon, Google released the final Android L Developer and although it’s not the “final” stable version we’ll see rolling out to Nexus devices in the coming weeks, it does give us a pretty damn good idea of what to expect. Of course, we couldn’t resist the lure of Lollipop and the Material Design therein, so once again, we flashed the system image onto our trusty old Nexus 5.
We were surprised to find a while lot has changed from the previous L Preview, with loads more polish and features than last time around. To understand exactly what we’re talking about you’re going to have to see for yourself. Check out our fairly lengthy hands on video above or full written portion down below.
New Setup Wizard app
Android’s Setup Wizard app is usually one of the more tedious parts about the OS. You’ll simply sign into your Google account, opt in or out for a few things and you’re on your way to pure mobile bliss. If you happened to be using the same device (whether or a replacement or coming off a fresh factory reset), sometimes all your previously downloaded apps will begin downloading from Google Play Store — other times they wont. It’s always been a hit or miss and there was no real way to actually manage what was being restored. You just signed in and hoped for the best. Well, Android 5.0 Lollipop looks to change all that with the new and improved Setup Wizard.
Setting up a new phone is a lot easier thanks to the new Tap & Go feature which will import your account information from one device to another over Bluetooth connection. Simple tap the two NFC enabled Android devices together and you’re on your way (see video). Of course, the old method of simply typing in your Google user name and password manually still exists, but it’s not nearly as fun.
Also new is a real-life restore utility that allows you to choose a device you’d like to restore from (any device still linked to your Play Store account) and the ability to select all or individual apps from that device as well. It’s been a long time coming and whether you upgrade once in a blue moon or you’re constantly flashing new ROMs, just about everyone can appreciate Lollipop’s latest feature. Thank you, Google. Thank you.
76% more polish, animations, and Material
Whereas the last Android L Developer Preview was a barebones Android L experience, this newest Android 5.0 Lollipop Developer Preview is now much more polished, bringing 76% more Material animations (we calculated it). The lock screen now has some sleek new animations when accessing the phone and camera shortcuts, the notification area finally has a “dismiss all” button, the launcher folders and app drawer have Google Search like circular animations when opening, and even the recent apps area has gotten some sprucing up with a now persistent Google Search widget. Oh, and recent apps are no longer wiped after a reboot, which is pretty darn nice.
New Settings: Battery saver, Screen pinning, Trusted devices, Priority notifications
In the new Lollipop Preview, the Settings app is also getting a little bit of love, sectioned off with a more card-like UI for 4 categories: wireless & networks, device, personal, and system. There’s also a host of incredibly useful new settings. Let’s take a look.
In a setting called “Interruptions,” Google has added the ability to assign which type of notifications you would like to interrupt you — all, priority, or none — and for how long (also accessible in the volume slider). You can even set specific days and times when you’d like to turn off notifications (during the work day, or evening hours), allowing only priority interruptions and/or calls from starred contacts, or anyone in your contacts.
While alarms and event reminders are by default “priority” notifications, keep in mind Android 5.0 allows other 3rd party apps to set their own priority level and you can even do this yourself in the new “App notifications” setting.
Lollipop gets even better with “trusted devices,” a feature we’ve seen OEMs implement in their own versions of Android (like Motorola). Essentially this allows users to bypass lock screen security when connected to specific “trusted” Bluetooth devices like a smartwatch, Bluetooth speakers, or car stereo. When no longer connected to these trusted devices, your phone will activate it’s lock screen security again.
Google actually ups the ante in Lollipop by not only allowing trusted Bluetooth devices, but trusted faces (face unlock) and trusted NFC tags as well. This could prove useful if you stick an NFC tag in a vehicle dock for easy access The provides an NFC tag example Google provides for trusted NFC tags is perhaps one you stuck onto a vehicle dock or whatnot. Whether you use it or not, there’s nothing wrong with extra options and the fact that this will come standard in all devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop — love it.
We already saw the battery saving feature in the previous L Preview, but for this new build, the notification and navigation bars now turn orange when activated. This lets the user know that 1. it’s not meant to be used all the time, 2. performance may suffer as a result of slower CPU, and 3. you should probably charge the phone soon.
When enabled, it can be turned off easily via the notification tray so you wont have to go fumbling around in the settings app again.
One of our favorite new features comes by way of Screen pinning, which can lock someone to a specific app in the event they need to borrow your phone to make a call or shoot off a text message. In order to get it up and running, it will first need to be enabled in the Settings app by selecting Security > Screen pinning.
Once enabled, you can “pin” the most recently used app from your recents screen in which case the app can only be exited by pressing both the back and recents button at the same time. While that would only keep a child locked into an app, if you have a password or PIN set on your lock screen, you can lock down Screen pinning by either of those methods as well. Genius.
Hidden Easter Egg
Every major Android release, Google “hides” an fun little Easter Egg inside the Settings app (About phone > Android version). For Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google went all out, including a full on Flappy Bird clone inside the OS. Pressing the version number 5 times activates phase 1 of the Easter Egg, while tapping on the lollipop image then long pressing it fires up the game. We have to say, it’s pretty much spot on with equal pull-your-hair-out difficulty as the original. It’s not something Google had to do, but we more than appreciate the gesture.
This was just a quick list of some of the new stuff we’ve noticed since diving into the new Android 5.0 Developer Preview and is by no means exhaustive. We’ll continue digging up new stuff in the coming days but in the meantime, if you’ve noticed anything new or have a favorite new feature of your own, feel free to shout it out down below. Cheers.