6 small changes in Android L that make a big difference

June 27, 2014

material design android l release

Most of the posts floating around the web about Android L release have focused on revamped notifications, the new recent menu changes, the death of Dalvik, the new material design, Android for Work and other hard hitters that were showcased during the Google I/O 2014 keynote.

After playing around with Android L on my Nexus 5, I’ve discovered that the rabbit hole is much deeper than this! There’s plenty of very small, subtle changes in Android L Developer Preview that might not be big on their own, but they are still very welcome and in the long run could make a pretty big difference when it comes to improving our mobile experience.

While many of these changes can be achieved already through 3rd party apps or are found in OEM skins, it’s still a nice change for stock Android.

battery-levels

Android predicts how long it’ll take to charge your battery

After plugging in your phone, Android will start calculating in the background how long it will take for your phone to reach full charge. Once it has the answer, you can find this estimate by looking at your lockscreen. Additionally, the estimate can also be found by visiting Settings> Battery.

On the flip side, when your phone isn’t plugged in, you’ll find an estimate of how long before it dies under the Battery settings.

do-not-disturb

Do Not Disturb

In the roughly 24 hour period that I’ve had the honor of using Android L, this is probably one of my favorite features. Yes, it’s not new for many of you with OEM skins, but I like it anyhow.

Simply put, there’s now a “Do Not Disturb” mode that can be accessed either by pushing a volume key and selecting the circle with a line through it, or you can find the same icon under the Notifications icon in the Quick Settings panel. By doing this you can either choose to silence all notifications for a set amount of hours or until you re-enable things.

Looking for even more control? Go into Settings > Sound & Notifications > Do Not Disturb. Here you’ll find all sorts of advanced settings such as allowing phone calls or messages to still go through when “Do Not Disturb” is turned on. There’s also the ability to still let your contacts or your starred contacts through. My favorite part, however, is the option to set a period of time where “Do Not Disturb” automatically turns itself on. As someone who wakes up easily at night, this is a life saver.

search-in-settings-b

Search within Settings

There’s a hell of a lot of settings to pick from in Android, and so the mobile gods have granted us a way to search and type in exactly what you’re looking for. This makes it easy to find some of those harder to location settings without having to do a bunch of clicking and poking around to get there.

color-blind-settings

Android display modes for those that are color blind

If you happen to be color blind, you’ll be happy to know that Android L has new display modes that are designed to allow you to see things more clearly. The new modes are found under Settings> Accessibility> Color Space Correction.

There’s actually six different modes, for different types of color blindness:

  • Deuteranomaly (red-green)
  • Protanaomaly (red-green)
  • Tritanomaly (blue-yellow)
  • Deuteranopia (green)
  • Protanopia (red)
  • Tritanopia (blue)
  • Deuteranomaly (red-green)

notifications-01

Turning off Notifications per-app is a breeze

While turning off notifications for specific has never been particularly difficult, now you don’t even need open an individual app up to do it. Simply head to Sound & Notifications> Showing Notifications > App Notifications. From here you’ll see a list of all your apps that utilize notifications and a simple tap will let you disable them.

adapative

Adaptive Brightness

It looks like Google is throwing auto-brightness out the window, replacing it with adaptive brightness, mixing the best of auto and manual under one roof. Basically, you decide where you device’s brightness should be set at, and it will make small adjustments based on ambient light in the room.

Simply put, if you set your device to 50% it will be able to adjust within a range of around 40 to 70% based on the light your location. For those that want full control, you can easily turn off adaptive brightness.

Wrap Up: Plenty of changes heading our way

Those are just some of the features I’ve stumbled upon so far in my adventures with Android L, and likely there are at least a few other tricks and new changes just waiting to be discovered. Bottom-line, Android L Developer Preview has plenty of fun changes outside of the big hitters, and we imagine the changes will be even greater when the final version of the OS software arrives later this year.

For those of our readers that are rocking Android L Developer Preview, any other small changes you’ve noticed that I missed? Please let our readers know in the comments!

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/abdullah.naji1 Abdullah Naji

    Don’t forget to mention the improved audio latency!

  • MasterMuffin

    Found all of these before reading this (yay I’m so cool ;D) and all the new things done with battery settings are really cool and it’s great to see that Google is starting to pay attention to small details like these!

    • Amir

      i love you muffin, i really do.

      • MasterMuffin

        You’re missing the “no homo” :D

  • Jayfeather787

    There is also a battery saving mode, like in OEM ROMs that has been finally implemented here.

    • TDN

      I know, it was a surprise when I moved from the LG Lucid to the Nexus 4 and there wasn’t a battery saving mode.

  • thartist

    3 i didn’t like (add yours):
    – Screen autorotation is originally under Accessibility instead of Display (wtf?!) Doesn’t matter as there’s a toggle for that anyway.
    – Unless transparency can/will be increased, notifications on the lockscreen will look awfully cluttered after a couple weeks of seeing those 3-4-5 white banners onscreen everyday. I want the feature, just not the mess.
    – Multitasking with each chrome tab separated will be a mess and will surely lag quite annoyingly cause of having to render all those cards simultaneously (it did at the demo). I tend to have 8 to 10 tabs so… no. Why make a mess there when i can perfectly with between tabs within chrome??

    • Jayfeather787

      Then use a different browser or close some tabs.

      • arcwindz

        Not a solution at all…
        Why would we need tonchange browser when we like chrome the most?
        And why do we need to close tabs when it’s convenient to have them?
        All of this because of cluttered ui that can be fixed in another way?

        • Jayfeather787

          There might be an option to disable showing the tabs in recents later.

    • Ste

      Yes, the tabs on the multitasking view are a thing that can bother I always a lot of tabs open (around 40)

  • gettysburg11s

    I agree, Android L is pretty cool. I loaded it on my Nexus 5. However, after trying it out all day, I went back to Android 4.4.4. Why? Its very buggy in certain, but small ways. First, the app Dropbox is totally dead in the water. If you don’t use it, no biggie, but since I do, I needed it back. Also, the battery does not last nearly as long as under kitkat. I am sure this is due to its early beta nature, but still. Finally, even though the new lock screen notifications are very cool, the notification shade needs work. Its very sluggish and stutter-y at times, and there is no button for clear all.

    Overall, its going to be a great upgrade in the fall for my Nexus 5, but it needs a lot of work, as expected (I went into it knowing it would be buggy and unfinished, don’t worry).

    • Skander

      It isn’t even a beta, it’s a developer preview so developers (like dropbox devs) can fix apps.

    • ChrisNacca

      If you went in knowing it was buggy and unfinished , why did you feel the need to comment on its bugs?

  • Justin-Alexander

    I know people are going to feel offended by the for some obviously futile reason, but so Touchwiz?

  • Skander

    You forgot to mention the Knox implementation in stock Android L.

  • Maggi

    Am so happy about this year’s developments from Google and apple. I am one of the few who love and hate both android and ios and know very well what each of them lack. That’s why I have an iPhone 5s and a nexus 4. Apple after a lot of criticism finally opened its OS and got some great features that android had and android is actually doing the same but none seem to point it out.

    Unlike what many think android is not a perfect OS either. Ios does certain things mote efficiently. I thought no one is even noticing it but am happy at least some folks designing android finally got it. For instance android notifications management is not as efficient as that of ios . It has to be turned off individually within the app unlike in ios where a Notification Center can turn off everything seamlessly. Finally android has got this one right like ios did. Do not disturb is again a something which is easier to do in ios. Thanks google for taking notice!

    The thing I do not like with android , probably the worst thing is the uniformity in app design. Every app has its own interface. It got a little better with Kitkat but looks like material design will take it to the next level. Also material design seems more visual pleasing like ios , something I felt android lacked. Androis always felt more nerdy.

    I think the time has finally come for me to pick up just one phone with all the features that I want. Can’t wait to try ios 8 and android l.. !

    I still want uniformity in app icons. Some sort of stanrd would be great. Like only flat icons and stuff. Also turning off apps running in background as easily as ios could be amazing.

    The most important feature that I would like on android but is to grant permissions individually like ios can. It’s a great security feature specially when anyone can make apps and submit.

    People are always so nice about android but harsh with ios despite both of them having their own limitations. I find it unfair and had to share my thoughts.

    • ins0mniac1

      Wow, the above post could have been written by me, our thoughts on this are so similar :) . I’m a long time user of both iOS and Android and currently have an iPhone 5/Nexus 7 and iPad Air (all of which have their inherent pros and cons, as you were saying). I came very close to getting a Nexus 5, but am holding out till either the next Nexus/Silver device or possibly an iPhone 6 4.7″ (I’m expecting that to be a pretty touch choice, but overall I prefer the direction Android is going at the moment).

      You’re absolutely right about iOS still leading in some areas, particularly touchscreen responsiveness, smoothness, and uniformity in app design (I love the way most modern apps look on iOS7 now).Android is making some massive leaps forward with Material Design though, so I look forward to developers utilising this new design language in their apps.

      Its a great time to be alive, watching Apple and Google out-innovate each other :)

      • Apple_Nexus

        Respect to both of you!!

        I too use both an iPhone 5 and a Nexus 7(and am a long time Mac user).

        Both have their pros and cons but it looks like some of the biggest issues are being addressed.

        I think I need to set up the Nexus as new as it’s got slower with use. :(

    • cizzlen

      Thank you thank you thank you. These have been my exact thoughts for a long time. Both brands need more open minded people like you. Cheers bro

    • LALinMN

      Except the app notification thing has been around for a while in Android. Before you just had to go to Settings>Apps>Specific App (the same place where “Force Close” and “Clear Data” were) and just uncheck notifications. Now It’s just in a slightly more intuitive location, but it’s been there for a while.

      • mobilemann

        i think that came in 4.3, and it does kinda suck. You have to go into each app in your app manager, making mass changes a small pain. It’s nice to have though. Didn’t they also ad the more important granular aspects of iOS’s NC control though? (ie stop allow an app into the NC, but not to display lock-screen, or banner ads. )

  • Roy

    Hi,

    On Andorid L the battery precentage shows in status bar near the battary icon?

    • no

      no.

  • jack

    iOS had most of that…. ridiculous how the lockscreen is like iOS’

    • AndroidBrian

      Like IOS? There’s been 3rd party apps on android that have allowed notifications to be displayed on your lock screen for over a year. Its kinda funny how everyone is saying Apple & Android keep copying each other. In reality everybody is copying the independent devs on Android.

      • Kazahani

        PREACH, BROTHER!

      • michaelmicro

        And the iOS Jailbreaking community.

      • mobilemann

        FYI, a pull down menu featuring quick settings? Jailbreak tweak before it was on any android device, quick response to a text from a notification? a Jailbreak tweak first.

        That lock screen? it’s been there like iOS 2. It’s copied, but that’s cool, because apple has bowed to android on apps interacting, keyboard switching etc.

        • AndroidBrian

          Yes Bite SMS was the first to have pop up SMS. Reply from notification, android was first. Right? Quick settings from notification was also first on android I believe. It was stock on android devices since I can remember. I guess you think launchers were first on iPhone because of Winterboard?

          If your jailbreaking ur iPhone you should have a Android. Iphones are for people who just want to take the phone out of the box and its ready to go IMO. Or if your stuck because you spent a small fortune on apple media. Stock android does what a rooted iPhone can do. Rooted Android….

          • mobilemann

            No, winter board themes aren’t launchers, but dreamboard themes are. Xposed is exactly like mobile substrate, and continues to be patched with more and more features of mobile substratr, like it’s safe mode.

          • mobilemann

            Also, quick settings from pull down was sbs settings, which was out again, before android’s initial release. I use both platforms, but i can’t use android either without a root, you’re 100% wrong, But you’re probably platform cheerleading and not talking about the actual merits of the OS’s. I digress.

          • AndroidBrian

            Wait… How can you not use Android without root? What restrictions are there (besides cosmetic) that make Android unusable without root???? I use both platforms too. IPhone 4 I believe or maybe 3gs was the first phone to have quick settings in notification. It was a jailbreak feature before that but not before Androids initial release. Android was released barely a year after the iPhone was released. I’m not platform cheerleading. It possible maybe you are. Like I said I think both OS are great.

          • mobilemann

            i mean i can’t personally. My phone is a note 3, and i bought it because of it’s internals and it’s screen size; but; for example, still has a menu key, which i can only change with root. Not many apps take advantage of the size of my screen, so app settings, which is also root. Greenify or DS Battery saver, need root. Use the always listening core on my note 3’s s800 to open up Google now instead of s-voice? Yup, another xposed plugin. Wanna use the apps you actually use in multi window? Another root app.

            And i had SBS settings was released about a month after the G-1: around the time the second iphone was released. I also think both OS’s are great, or i wouldn’t use android.

  • Vardan Nazaretyan

    There was one problem with the preview though, you can’t clear all notifications at once. Which sucks really hard. If you have 20 notifications then you have to clear all of them one by one. That was the one big issue with the preview for me at least.

    • salilmulay

      The above comment should get a million likes! Even touchwiz does that since Ice cream sandwich!

  • michaelmicro

    It’s great to see Google getting some of the things I like about the iPhone such as do not disturb and a centralised location for notification settings, as well as the lock screen notifications themselves. It’ll be really great for Android users to now have these features.

  • Aravind Sudheer Babu

    Tell me if I’m wrong please.

    Aren’t all these available in Galaxy devices…???

    • no

      no

  • jani

    All the Android L features are found natively in the Sony Xperia Z2’s custom UI OEM skin. Honestly.

  • bakakun028

    Not happy. i absolutely despise bright UI.

  • AndroidBrian

    Hey Andres Grush! Do you know if one can adjust the ringer & notification sound separately? Since android 4.0 the ringer and notification sound on pure Google has been affixed. Is insanely annoying. I want to be able to silence my text messages without missing a call. It sounds like it may be possible in the do not disturb setting.

  • blairh

    How about battery percentage?

  • Opinion

    i don’t know if the turn of notification is new,but i can use it since 4.3,just it is hidden in app setting

  • The-Sailor-Man

    What about Multi-Window and Knox security???? Aren’t they there?
    Why not sensors support, native USB support, or Wacom Pen support for tablets, too?

    • Guest

      Actually, Knox has been fully integrated into Android L.

    • ChrisNacca

      You realise ” Ultra battery sacing ( black and white ) only saves battery on AMOLED displays…

  • LALinMN

    The app notification setting thing has been around for a while, they just changed the location of the setting.

  • mr Dave

    Hate the new home buttons (three across the bottom) They look worse then Windows 8 metro.

    if it ain’t broke don’t change it!!!

    • Marc Perrusquia

      I think they’ll grow on us with time.

      • Nathan Buffington

        I hope so. I’m not quite sure how I feel about them. At first I didn’t like the new keyboard cuz it is so flat but I’ve been using it for a week now and it is completely fine and I’m enjoying it, so the buttons will just become part of our lives

        • Marc Perrusquia

          The only is that looked perfect to me at first sight was stock android, j cane from iOS, then touchwiz, and just loved the simplistic design language, elegant but beautiful, Android L looks more like an OEM skin, especially the notification drop down bar, like we said it’ll probably grow on you, but it’s a shame to me, I just absolutely love the current stock android look.

  • Vasya

    I like Windows 8 metro

  • nishantsirohi123

    its good to see that android has acknowledged the battery performance, also the move of Android KitKat towards the low RAM performance is great, Android sells in huge numbers in low end devices, so it needs to be lightweight. The RAM requirement needs to come down (perhaps to 256 mb actual with 512 being official), something windows phone boasts and is very much true.

  • https://www.igooglemedia.com/ Donzay Stone

    Android Lollipop to Debut at Google I/O
    Read More : http://www.igooglemedia.com/android-lollipop-to-debut-at-google-io/

  • twister1320

    Android L is super awesome!!!!!!

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  • Leeroy Jenkins

    Project Volta is a small change.