Android 5.1 Lollipop – Here’s what’s new!

by: Joe HindyMarch 11, 2015

Android 5.1 Lollipop is officially in the wild and it comes with a metric ton of changes. However, most of them are under the hood and the actual interface only saw a few minor tweaks here and there. Let’s take a look at what’s different in 5.1.


Quick Settings tweaks

The Quick Settings in Android 5.1 Lollipop saw a couple of tweaks. They include:

  • You can now connect to WiFi and Bluetooth devices without being required to go into the Settings app. Simply click the down arrow and continue from there.
  • There is a new animation for the portrait mode toggle (more on that later).

Android 5.1 Lollipop

Screen Pinning improvements

Screen Pinning is a feature (under Security in the Settings) that allows you to lock someone into a single application. This is great for kids or if someone is borrowing your phone.

  • The verbiage in the Settings has been changed for clarification purposes.
  • When you pin an application, Android now shows you which buttons to press in order to leave Screen Pinning mode. Otherwise, the feature works exactly as it did before.

Android 5.1 Lollipop

Contacts app improvements

The Contacts app has undergone a couple of minor improvements:

  • There is no longer any color overlays on contact pictures.
  • Google+ photos are no longer used for contact pictures.
  • Other minor tweaks here and there.

Android 5.1 Lollipop

System Volume tweaks

The lack of silent mode is a sore spot for many Lollipop users, although HTC and Samsung have managed to (generally) re-add the feature in their skins. With Android 5.1, Google didn’t give us silent mode back but they did make some other tweaks:

  • The icons of Priority Mode and No Interruptions Mode now appear in the selection window. This is so people new to the OS understand what the icons mean when they show up in the status bar (shown in the gif above).
  • No Interruptions Mode will now still deliver notifications and you’ll still see the notification light blinking. It’s no silent mode, but it works pretty much the same. The only real gripe is that alarms still don’t go off so you’ll still need to create a tweaked Priority Mode (where alarms are okay, but everything else is turned off) in order to get a “truer” silent mode.
  • You can now access system volume even while watching video, listening to music, or otherwise engaging in media. Simply click the bell icon on the right side (see video for a demonstration) and the media volume will disappear, replaced by the system volume.
  • Other small tweaks are there, including the ability to better manage Priority Mode.

Android 5.1 Lollipop

New animations

A few new animations have made their way into Android 5.1.

  • The four icons at the top of the Clock app are now animated.
  • The Portrait/Landscape toggle in Quick Settings is also now animated.

Android 5.1 Lollipop

Other various tweaks

Some of the other highlights from the Android 5.1 update include:

  • NuPlayer officially takes over for AwesomePlayer as the default streaming player.
  • When you receive a heads-up notification (when they appear at the top and are clickable), you can swipe up to hide the notification but it will remain in the notification drop-down for you to check later. In Android 5.0, swiping up on the heads-up notification dismissed the notification entirely.
  • Device Protection mode is now a thing that exists. This nifty new feature keeps your device locked down even if it has been factory reset, preventing thieves from getting around your security. Sadly, this is only available on the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 as well as, according to Google, all Lollipop devices launched going forward.
  • HD Voice Calling is now included. Devices on compatible carrier networks that support HD Voice will be able to use the feature. Reportedly, this only works with the Nexus 6 for right now.
  • Dual-SIM support is now baked right into the OS.
  • Unless otherwise stated, we believe the memory leak has finally been fixed.
  • There were over 14000 additional tweaks, fixes, and other changes that came to Android 5.1 that improved everything from performance to battery. To see them all, here’s the full changelog.
Android 5.1 Lollipop

The new “no SIM card” icon.

What we’re still waiting on

While the 5.1 update was huge in its own right, it didn’t bring everything. Here are a few features many people are still waiting on.

  • A true silent mode where notifications come in, alarms act as normal, but the device doesn’t vibrate or ring.
  • T-Mobile Nexus 6 users are still waiting for WiFi Calling but that should be coming soon.
  • There is still no reboot option. When long pressing the power button, you still only have the option to Power Down.

Android 5.1 Lollipop


Overall, the update is a big step forward for Lollipop and dare we say, the Lollipop we probably should have had to begin with. Performance on the Nexus 5 (at least) has been noticeably better and the inclusion of the new features gives a more full and complete feeling to the UI and experience overall. Let us know what you thought of the Android 5.1 Lollipop update. Did Google address all of your concerns or are there still some things you wish they had?

  • Harvie Boles

    Wifi hotspot icon location from the status bar changed from left, to right

    • JosephHindy

      I did miss that, you’re right.

  • Rex


    Great job on the fantastic video and write up! You guys are my absolute favorite. Way to go Joe & AA TEAM!!! Please more content like this!!

    • crutchcorn

      I agree with Rex, this was a fantastic write up and well worth the time that I took to read in comparison to others. Thank you.

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    • monkey god

      Agreed. This a great video for newbies and veterans alike. Pointing out all the small changes that some users may not even notice. Hardware is awesome and all, but its the software that really change the way we use our devices. This is why we need guys like Hindy to do these kind of write ups.

      • JosephHindy

        I appreciate the compliments guys, really :)

  • Frederico Silva

    Really nice write-up, but auto-starting video, really?

    • JosephHindy

      It’s essentially just the article as spoken by me :) it could be worse, at least they aren’t video ads that play on repeat like some other places :D

      • Frederico Silva

        Yeah I know, I’m not diminishing your article in any way. Maybe it’s because it’s late here and there was nothing but silence around me, but that video start was kind of abrupt (and loud), hence my need to verbalize my concern (:

  • Also you can now hide some quick toggles by holding down on the icon to remove it instead of waiting 30 days.

  • AfrodanJ

    They still havent got this screen pinning down right, I dont have a lock on my phone but if i have an app pinned I want it to stay pinned until I put in a password/pattern/pin, otherwise whats the point if whoever you’re borrowing your phone to can just follow the clear instructions to unpin it??

    • JosephHindy

      You could always not hand it to them until after you dismiss the instructions. You just click “got it” and boom, it’s gone.

      But I do agree, I’d like to see the ability to apply a lock to ONLY screen pinning without adding one to the rest of the device too.

      • AfrodanJ

        But even then, pressing any of the nav buttons brings up the instructional pop up. So close to being a dream feature.

        Keep up the good work Mr. Hindy

        • JosephHindy

          Touche’ sir.

    • xing

      I’m sure I saw an option for pin input while apps were locked. Can’t remember where though.

  • jim

    Android 5.1 for Nexus 7 2013 WIFI edition WHEN??????

  • Cowen K. Gittens

    Will the sideloading work on a rooted Nexus 5?

  • antonio

    Why is nobody talking about the core most needed improvement on 5.1 ?? BATTERY!!!!!! I want to know if there is any….

    • JosephHindy

      While I have no concrete proof of it, one would assume that with 14000 under-the-hood changes, that battery improvement was among them. However, I’ve only had the update about 16 hours so I couldn’t test that out before making the video/article.

  • Pranav R Palkar

    Long press ‘Power Off’ to reboot in safe mode. It is applicable to 5.0.1 as well.

  • fatspirit

    Does Face Unlock work? I have 100% crash trying to turn it on.

    • Working for me

      • fatspirit

        Working for me too now (:

  • Elfateh Siraj

    You can restart by pressing the power button for 10 seconds.

    • JosephHindy

      yeah but really, who knows that off the top of their head? lol, I didn’t even know that and I work here.

  • Mrhug3

    There has always been a reboot option on the Nexus 6. Simply press the power button and hold it for 5-6 seconds.

  • mikkelmus
  • Tom Bergstra

    Just get the 5.1 on my Nexus10 …we what benefits it takes

  • transforms animated icons are awesome :)

  • Victor Meunier

    Hey guys, I wanted to know how can you update using the link that is given ?

  • Nitz

    Great work Android Authority.. ! First deep insight video on the update, keep up the work !

  • I just hope it rolls out considerably faster and smoother than Lollipop. Lollipop was a big update that required a lot of polishing. This one is smaller so it should go faster.

  • Pandora

    How about enabling Notification LED which hidden below the speaker?

    • Frenky Harry Saputra

      Notification LED? Hidden? Speaker? What phone are you using?

  • Niren

    Noticed 2 minor changes:
    1) USSD window theme changed from Dark to Light
    2) New Lock Screen Animation after entering the correct pattern/PIN/Password

  • Niren

    Noticed 2 minor changes:
    1) USSD window theme changed from Dark to Light
    2) New Lock Screen Animation after entering the correct pattern/PIN/Password

  • divyank

    Hey, nice and informative piece! The power button+volume down function for screenshots in a Moto G 2nd Gen running Kitkat disappeared after the Lollipop update. Any workarounds now? Also, in Android L 5.0.2, while the down arrow isn’t there in the wifi and bluetooth icons, I just found that carefully clicking the label instead of the icon does lead you to listed networks/devices. But, i didn’t look for it before I read this… Thanks!

  • Robb Wright

    Very minor, but I’m still waiting for the Google Calendar app to show the current day instead of the 1990s-esque “31”.

    • c webb

      I find the battery goes fast and the system seems to run slower.

  • got damn 5.0.2

    i wish that device provisioner malmare problem its going to fix to my nexus 7 2013 tablet my tablet, its going crazy dont want to get touch sometimes wants to touch the screen by himself lets hope this is going to fix

  • Tony G.

    Can the automations be turned off?

  • Bradley Uffner

    “Google+ photos are no longer used for contact pictures.”
    That’s not an improvement.

  • Numis

    “Many security-aware power users” are still waiting on fixes for the FREAK vulnerability on Android (note the timing between the release of Android One phones specific to Indonesia and the public disclosure of the vulnerability).

  • Paul Maher

    Its crap – Android is going nowhere since Jelly bean version, they actually removed some of the most useful features …. Google developers are undoing a lot of the good work, a lot of people unhappy with the changes they made in recent versions and Google do not listen to users … End result will be number of Android users will tail off nearly as quickly as the user base was built up.

  • Captain jack

    Still a long way to go…

  • Orlanzo Graham

    If you mean reboot as in restart the nexus 6 has been able to do that since day one. You simply need to continuously hold the power button until the screen goes black and it will show the google logo and restart.

  • ankit

    Whn i got this upgrade to my core 2

  • Dan Weatherley

    And i’m still waiting for 5.0 xD

    • TDN

      If you’re still on 4.4.4 be glad you didn’t have to deal with 5.0. Hopefully your OEM just skips straight to 5.1.

      • Dan Weatherley

        Is 5.0 bad? It seems fine on my old phone

  • tooshea

    NO SILENT MODE? Really? That’s a deal killer for me…the stupid things Google does smh. So how the heck are you supposed to mute your mobile then? Turn it off? Yeah, that makes sense!

    • Shahrokh Youssefi

      The name changed but it’s still there, there’s priority mode (which is basically silent mode, plus the ability to unmute only calls or only messages or both, you can also select which contacts you want to mute/unmute) there’s also no interruption mode, this will mute everything (including alarms) and of course you can turn the volume down to zero and your phone will vibrate for any notification or call. If you don’t want vibration, you have to use priority or no intruption

  • Frenky Harry Saputra

    Well, i notice there are addition animation when you unlock phone using PIN.

  • Cody Cook

    Why do people care about a reboot button? Honestly though — it’s not necessary. Just shut down your phone and restart it manually. I also don’t care about not having “SILENT” mode specifically. IMO, customize your options to get the OS to work for you.

    • Bardo

      “IMO, customize your options to get the OS to work for you.”
      Problem is, I can’t.

      People keep complaining about silent mode, but the MANY other non-functional aspects of volume control in lollipop are way more important to me. I don’t know why they’re not getting more press.

      1) I’m reading feeds at night in bed and I don’t remember what my media volume is set at.
      In Jellybean I can just use the volume rocker to globally silence the entire device.
      In Kitkat, I can hit a volume button then press the cog to slide out all the volumes sliders. For me, this was slightly worse than the global volume in Jellybean, but it was still easy enough to handle, and it was more versatile.
      In Lollipop I am forced to either play some media and hope it’s not loud, or dive all the way into settings because the volume rocker only controls ringer volume. It’s a fucking wifi only tablet. Why would it default the volume rocker to ringer volume?

      2) I’m casting a video from my phone to my chromecast, and I want to turn down the ringer volume.
      In Kitkat, again, I simply hit a volume button and press the cog to control any volume slider.
      In Lollipop, the volume rocker only controls the chromecast volume, so I have to dive into settings again…

      The new volume control is unintuitive and it removes a LOT of basic functionality that was in previous versions. It’s worse than the way Kitkat handled volume control in 90%+ of all use-cases.

  • Dick Hanson

    Incomplete lackeys… who’s posting here employees of android authority

    • JosephHindy

      There’s no need for that. We have fans just like all the other blogs that want to express their appreciation.

  • TDN

    Just got the 5.1 update, hoping it fixes the memory leak.

  • Aleksandr Strizhevskiy

    Ever since the 5.0 update my Nexus 10 has had audio issues on boot up, I checked and it is a common issue. I just got 5.1 and Im hoping this problem was addressed.

  • Lynn Estep

    Excellent review!

  • Khalid

    We’re still waiting for App permissions manager. This is more important.

  • James Boyer

    “There is still no reboot option. When long pressing the power button, you still only have the option to Power Down.”

    You reboot by continuing to hold the power button. Works on a Nexus 6, and I would assume most other devices.

  • abc123

    You can enable the “reboot option when long pressing” by going into developer options and ticking advanced reboot.

  • utack

    Penny is a freeloader. No spaces!

  • Tim Thomas

    Bs. Why do I keep getting no sim card errors? Getting fed up with shutting down and restarting. May consider going to iphone.

  • yay

    Great article, do more like this!

  • Tisha Collins Barry

    Hi! So I downloaded the new Lolipop on my Droid Turbo, and as its been told already, my battery life is half what it was! But, I have also been experiencing a lot of my apps stop working. I get the message “Sorry but …… Has stopped working” Some of the apps are Chrome, photos, Pics Art, Google+, Play Store and Hangouts, which is disabled and has been long before Lolipop! Anyone else having this?

  • Whatever

    This is another trick to fool us nd make ads of Galaxy note5 nd galaxy 6 which failed to appeal new clients. Where is 5.1.1 lollipop? Nowhere to download instead a massive ads for Amazone. Samsung ain’t worth our trust.

  • Warik

    And here’s what’s not so good :
    Cannot have LTE on both SIM’s, only SIM1
    Cannot have different ringtones for both SIM’s

    Fiddling with animations does nothing for me. Anyone?