What can we expect in Android 5.0?

by: Nate SwannerJanuary 5, 2013


There is so much good stuff in the Android universe. We have amazing phones, tons of apps and games and the best operating system around. Even with all that awesome at our fingertips, we are still looking to the future of Android. With Google I/O closing in, we expect to see the next iteration of Android. What will we see? What’s it called? When can we have it?!

So many questions, and so many long months of waiting. Waiting in pure agony, fretting about what’s coming around the corner. We know it’s going to be good, but how good? Let’s take this opportunity to ruminate and be hopeful. Let the speculation begin!

Now, Google Now!

Google Now, the search and voice assistant for Android, is already the best around. Faster and more accurate than its competition, it’s the most intuitive interface ever. Someone have a birthday? You might forget, but ‘ol Google Now won’t. When does that package arrive? Just pull up Google Now!

Even with all it does for us, it can improve. The voice actions are a little hit-and-miss, and its email intuition is suspect at times. Sometimes it notices when an email has packaging info, sometimes it doesn’t. Those kinds of things improve with feedback and time, so look for Google to polish the edges of Google Now just a bit. It would be nice to be able to launch an app or play music just by barking orders and the inclusion of offline voice typing we have now lends itself to that. I know we’re going to have cars that drive us around someday, but until then it’s hands free driving.


Take a note

I love Google Tasks. I know, I know… there are a bunch of really cool note taking apps with wonderful integration. You know what? The Google Tasks Chrome extension is phenomenal. Simple, clean, effective… and it links to my Android widget in real time. That widget is a third party widget, and isn’t really integrated across the board.

It would be nice to have an official Google Tasks app and widget which was baked into Android 5.0 like all the other Google services. With so much talk of which note taking app is everyone’s favorite, I think some official Google Tasks incorporation would work well.

By going all-in and adopting Tasks, Google could have a huge hit. Having that feature sync across multiple platforms would be the best part. Just starting with inclusion in the header bar would be nice, but why stop there? It’s integrated with GMail, but not well. We have a ton of white space in Google+, so it has real estate available. It has a naturally symbiant relationship with Google Drive that is being ignored, also.

Think of it… you look up an address in Maps, and Google Now picks that up and gets you directions. The calendar notification that pops up on your phone knows you have a note about this event in Tasks, and links to it (Calendar and Tasks work together now, just not that well). That note keeps you aware of what you need to do at this location, which involves bringing a Google Drive document. You link to that document in Tasks (which could be integrated into Drive to make that easy), so when you get there it’s simply a matter of opening Tasks and getting things done. Tasks could be a bit of a hub for productivity. How great would that integration be?


More Buttah!

When Project Butter was announced with Android 4.1, or Jelly Bean, the initial reaction was “project what-now?”. However silly the name is, the proof is in the… butter. Scrolling and other gestures saw a remarkable improvement and it really made the entire Android experience better (bettah?). Like anything else, as good as it is, we want more.

Project Butter has room to grow, and I think it will. In a nutshell, Butter improves response time of your touch to the command given, making the whole experience faster and smoother. With so many improvements on the hardware side of things, there is no doubt we’ll see some improvements here. With faster processors come the ability to handle more info, giving Butter room to grow, or bloom, or whatever butter does.

Look around

As with just about any other Android update, we’ll get a camera fix. I like the camera on Jelly Bean a lot. The zoom is intuitive to how we interact with our devices, and the menu popping up wherever you touch is sublime. The panorama feature is still amazing, and the filters make photos fun again.

What does need improvement is photosphere. A really cool addition, it just doesn’t work that well. The “stitching” of the photos is usually off, often by a lot. I’d like to be able to say it’s my fault, but I just go where the next little blue dot is in photosphere. I have very little control on how the photos get cobbled together.
I’d also like for there to be some sort of Snapspeed integration. Google spent a lot of money on that acquisition, so I’m expecting it to be baked straight into the camera function at some point. With so many cool effects for pictures, it seems only natural to make it an integral part of the camera. Experienced photographers everywhere would love to be able to tinker with the shot before it’s taken.

nexus 4 lockscreen camera calendar


Better lock screen widgets, and more of them. Right now, Google’s selection of lock screen widgets is weak. If lock screen widgets are here to stay, we need some variety. Checking the clock or email is great, but what about all the other great stuff Google has to offer us? I’d love to get a Google Currents widget with a shortcut to Android Authority!

Google has so many amazing services, it’s hard to believe it didn’t have more lock screen widgets available when it launched Jelly Bean. The possibilities are endless, really. A map widget for lock screens would be great, especially for travelers. With Ingress taking off, maybe we’ll see a widget available for it. It makes sense to have a Play Store widget, also. Linking directly to your revenue stream seems like a no-brainer for Google.

Quickly, now

The quick settings menu is a stroke of genius. No more diving deep into the menu, or occupying screen space with a bulky widget. Now, it’s a simple drag-down menu. All the normal stuff is there, like Bluetooth, WiFi, and Airplane mode. Definitely more handy that what we dealt with before, but it can improve.

The only niggle I have with the quick settings menu is the lack of customization. I travel quite a bit, but someone else may not. A person who doesn’t travel has very little need for Airplane mode. Sure, Airplane mode is just a name, but for what it accomplishes in turning off all transmission ability, people just aren’t looking for that. The point is to be connected, not turn the world off. It would be nice to be able to add and remove functions. It would be especially cool if we could bury apps in there, specifically apps that control services. Each user has their own needs and wants and settings are an integral part of how we each use our device.


Everyone is talking

Google Talk is one of my favorite things on earth. It’s the easiest chat function, and travels across platforms. I can be chatting on my desktop, leave the house and continue on my phone or tablet. I never miss a beat with a conversation and I don’t have to make excuses for why I can’t chat anymore. With text only working cross platform if you’re registered with Google Voice, Google Talk is really the best option.

Then again, Google+ has a messenger function while Google Voice integrates with text messaging. You can video chat from either Talk or Messenger, but not Voice. It would be great to see all these consolidated into one amazing chat function. A nice cross-platform tool that unifies those disparate services. Android has a problem with fragmentation, both in OS and services. It needs to be addressed on all fronts, and combining these services is a great place to start.


Android wears glasses

Maybe we’re ready, maybe we’re not. If we are, then Google needs to start getting ready now. If we’re getting Glass in 2014 as predicted, it needs integration now. That’s right, our new Android update may come with some very deep Google Glass features built in. As we prepare for the probable launch of Google Glass in 2014, it makes sense that the head-wear will run Android. The issue may be that Google Glass needs a hacked version of Android, so the full version may just not be in the cards.

In reality, we have no concept of Glass. We have no real idea what Google Glass is supposed to be, or do, or how it’s intended to work with us in our world. We know it’s pretty cool, and puts a camera on our head. We know it is meant to show us things on this little screen in front of our eyes. We know it will make pirating movies easier. You know what, forget that last one. I shouldn’t have even said that.

Seriously though, if Google Glass is really gonna happen, Android will have to see some integration. While Google Glass is a pretty cool concept, I don’t see it as a standalone piece of hardware. I see it as a complement to your Android device. I don’t think we’ve thought much beyond pictures and video, and it will give a great first-person perspective, but what else? If Google Glass is going to have voice integration as we’ve heard, then the aforementioned updates to Google Now will have to occur. It makes the most sense for the glasses to run Google Now for that function.

How’s this look?

Rumors abound that the new Android will bring us an updated user interface. I can’t see that happening, honestly. I think the point is to even out the changes, not increase the quantity of them. If you recall, Google recently asked developers to produce apps that were tablet friendly, and gave them a checklist of sorts to follow to accomplish that goal. Making them fit into the UI was a large part of that.

If you really want to raise the ire of a developer, change something without giving them proper notice. Developing apps is not easy, and changing the way you want it to look would go over really poorly with the group you’re asking to support your platform. While for us as users it’s fun and cute, to someone making their living from development, it may not be. I think there may be some very minor UI tweaks, but don’t look for something like we saw when Gingerbread morphed into Honeycomb.


A longer life

No, not for Android 5.0. I’m talking about battery life. More to the point, a battery management widget. There are many apps and widgets available from developers. Good ones, too, but I’d like this kind of thing to be built right in to Android. It seems that everyone’s complaint with their awesome new Android phone rounds into a battery life discussion at some point. With so much focus on battery life, Google should really integrate some robust battery management features.

While something as simple as a ‘battery saving mode’ would be great, I’d like to see a little more depth. For instance, perhaps the ability to program how your phone acts during certain hours of the day. If you’re at the office from 9 to 6 on weekdays, maybe the phone could be programmed to stop accessing data service for those hours. You may be at your desk, and having the phone accessing the same data as your desktop can is just wasteful. It could also be useful for task management. If your Google Play Music turns off at noon, you can spend the afternoon working diligently rather than fiddling with a playlist. If I can program an NFC tag to do these things, I should be able to get straight to the heart of the matter with my device settings.

Dear Google

Google, if you’re listening, please hurry. Once the rumors start, I get restless. Just bump up I/O and give us our new dessert! Each Android iteration is a wonderland of fun, both exciting and revolutionary. Whatever Google does, I’m sure it will be amazing. I understand going into it that it won’t have everything I want, but more than I need. Just, you know… don’t forget December this time.

Like each Android release, it drives the roots deeper. As Android gets better, everything else seems that much further behind. Each Android iteration cements the OS’s place in this world, and this release may do so more than we know. If you’ve noticed, I never referred to the new iteration by name. We’ve heard ‘Key Lime Pie’ tossed around, but nothing official has been announced. So, what would you name our new Android baby?

  • Topcat488

    I don’t know what to call it, but the way you’re praising and testifying for Google, at the bottom DEAR GOOGLE, inspires me to go to church… Maybe the next iteration of Android should be called “Key to the Church”… :)

    • Nevi_me

      Maybe Key to the Sundae … :)

  • Chemsit

    Would love to see tasks be incorporated and the consolidation of Google’s messenger apps is something I’ve been banging on about for a long time

  • Saboteur777

    Why do you think it will be 5.0? Froyo, Gingerbread, etc, even Honeycomb iterations added to the version number a .x, not a complete version number bump. I think, next version should be 4.3 – K*.

    • Gingerbread was 2.3.x Honeycomb was a jump to 3.x, and ICS was also a jump to 4.0.x and jellybean was 4.1.x and 4.2.x ..

    • Honeycomb didn’t add to the version number, that started 3.0?

    • Mark Mann

      froyo 2.1-2.2, gingerbread 2.3-2.7 honeycomb 3.0, ics, 4.0.x, jelly bean 4.1.x and 4.2.x…to me it should depend on how much of a change it is, minor changes(as the ics-jelly bean upgrade) should change the 4.x number, larger upgrade(as the gingerbread to honeycomb to ics) should change the whole number

      • thartist

        Dah, dude! Learn the right names and versions! 2.0 and 2.1 were Eclair, 2.2 froyo, 2.3.1 to 2.3.7 gingerbread, 3.0 to 3.2 honeycomb…

  • Mee too looking forward to http://www.dhavalthakur.com

  • Split screen apps on my tablet would be amazing and make the ipad look mundane, Android is perfect for this and ios apps just cant work like this. Also I agree on combined messenger before Facebook takes over and if battery life could be given a boost then go for it!

    • RarestName

      Quasar works pretty well for me.

  • Brian Williams

    They really need to fix the clock and alarm functions.

  • jay

    I agree with topcat this is a butt kissing if I have ever read one. You might think about broadening your horizons some if you think that everything stock Google is so grand. Google Now is a joke and most of the other features you mention have way better third party apps from the play store.

  • Split screen/multi window would be great, although it would be a blatant ripoff of samsung. I absolutely love the split screen feature on the GNote 2.

    • Scidon37

      I wouldn’t say ripoff of Samsung since Onskreen’s Cornerstone has been around longer.

  • hrishi

    haha… make pirating movies easier… you bet

  • Cerberus

    Personally, I’m waiting for the Lamington update.

    It should bring some great new features

  • Dze

    there are do many feature Android can improve. 1) Hide the Naviation bar on the Nexus and swipe from the bottom edge of the screen, when we need them. Save the relistate for movie etc. 2) Better battery life. 3) sphere camera on 4.2 got be improve.

    • jpxa

      GMD Gesture control does this, in the play store.

  • thartist

    I honestly disagree with expanding the lockscreen widgets frenzy. If you’re adding more than one those to the lockscreen you are exposing your stuff right away, so what woud be the point of locking your phone then… There should be discrete onscreen notifications with a number if necessary and that’s that.

    I’d like customizable Quick settings a la CM, consistent back behavior, UI refinements (surprise me google), widgetUI guidelines, app installations guidelines to avoid the current mess of everything spread everywhere, less memory usage, maybe a little more color overall in the settings, and I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff, BUT!:

    I’m starting to feel that the whole interface paradigm of desktops + icons in a grid + widgets and app drawer is getting a bit stale and antiquated with the new more integrated interface paradigms flourishing around. I don’t have a precise solution all figured out and am not asking for a WP UI, but I feel some big concepts are in need of fresh air. Still 90% Android, with something touched up. Is it only me?

  • powder

    I’d prefer if they fix more basic os function:

    1. Built-in Firewall. So I don’t need Root to use firewall. Current data usage limit on ics only block background access, not foreground app.

    2. Better sdcard filesystem so I can use more than 64gb sdcard, and no 4gb filesize limitation.

  • All I wanna see is a new interesting Android OS. By the way, I’m still using Froyo!


  • Tk

    MMS with Google Voice. What was the point of porting my old number to Google Voice if now i have to give everyone two phone numbers because my GV number can’t receive MMS.

  • azza12345

    Well I have a few ideas that android should have.

    *the ability to hide the software buttons and the bar and open it with a swipe from the bottum of the screen

    *Maybe have an app drawer button on the bar where the software buttons are so apps can be accesed anywhere on the tablet.

    *Maybe put google now in the notification panel, my notification panel is always empty and would be a great way to make accesing google now easier, I dont mean when you scroll down the notifications panel, google now is right there, but make it that when you scroll down google now apears.

    *Because many companies are making tablets with keyboard docks, and the desktop experience on my infinity is rather annoying and confusing, make it so that when you dock the tablet, it changes it to a chrome os sort of ui where the are minimise and close buttons, and have everything accessible at anytime, and it would give the ipad huge competition,

    *When im at home, I hate that I need to have my phone around me at all time cause i get messages, even when im on my tablet or computer, I hate having to stop what im doing and go to the message, what if messages and phone calls are integrated to tablet aswell as mobile phones so we can use our tablet for everything at home and have the phone for outside of home

    *What if you could set up folders for a certain catagory like games and all the games on your device move to the folder and when you download a game, it would move to the folder automatically, so annoying when i have to move apps to folders.

    *Make it so apps, photos ect, can be synced between all your android devices, would be great if this ever happened

    Just some of my many ideas

    • Jesse Wilson

      I use mighty text to SMS on my tablet/Computer. It could use a better integration for tablets, but it works as a chrome extension.

    • Hide Soft keys: PA
      Google Now in Notifications: Any shortcut with 1Tap quick bar
      Sync Apps: DataSync (root)

  • I am missing the most obvious improvements. Sure, built-in firewalls and stuff are nice for the 0.01% of users who know what it is…
    No, what Android need is better notification, and more detailed control. Just compare to Blackberry (my previous phones were BB 9000 and 9700, I now got the Samsung S3).
    The notification LED should blink blue when connected to bluetooth. It could blink yellow when you have a text message waiting, and green when you have an email. Red double-blink for missed phone calls and red slow blink when battery is running below a certain (user specified) percent. There are several other notifications that could be added. All of them should of course be customazible.
    In addition, a “bedside” mode” would be nice. When you plug in the phone for charging overnight, instead of turning the screen off, have a special screen up, but very dim. Perhaps a clock and a list of email/text messages received. If you put the phone in a charging cradle, you have a bedsite clock this way. Of course, in bedside mode all the LED notifications would be turned off, and all sounds should be turned off except ringer. There should also be a night-time ringer volume you can set, separate to the regular volume.

    • Alex13809

      “bedside mode” aka daydream is already here. Check in the settings app (must be on 4.2 or 4.2.1). As for LED notifications you can customize those using Lightflow. I know its not baked in, but the ability is very much there. As for the charging silence, CM10.1 has it (and I’m assuming previous versions do too). You can set it to change volume, led, and vibration settings based on time and/or whether it is charging.

  • secretwings

    This is all wonderful, but I really wish Google would sort out some long-neglected basics in Android before they start getting too clever. How about an *undo* feature when typing? It’s amazing how much work can be lost by, for example, pressing ‘select all’ and then accidentally typing over the text before you’ve had a chance to press ‘copy’ – or even just going back too far when holding backspace. In iOS you’ve been able to shake the iPhone/iPad for a quick undo since the very first version. It’s hard to believe Android still has no undo capability – reminiscent of 1980s word processors!

    • Hillarion

      Amen! I spent about half an hour composing a Gmail bug report, accidentally touched the back icon at the bottom, and all that work was gone forever.
      However, the Gmail message composer apparently updates a hidden Draft file with every keystroke (the way Opera e-mail does). If you need to do something else temporarily, there’s no need to explicitly save; it’s automatic. Resuming is almost as easy.

    • Ankit

      that’s would be a great move +1

  • Jesse Wilson

    You make many good suggestions but on the camera side, I have to say that I’m disappointed there isn’t a native “red-eye removal” function. F* all this instagram bs, give us some BASIC improvements. This used to be native in picasaweb but seems to have been abandoned in the past few years.
    I have loved all of my Nexuses, even with their less than ideal cameras, but I don’t like having to post process all of my pics to remove the red-eyes from my baby girl.

  • What happened to Android 4.2? I heard of it being under procedure. When is that gonna come…before or after android 5?

  • Justniz

    1) The ability to uninstall any app, even ones that come with the phone.

    I dont want to even see the mass of T-Mobile bloatware and other horrible apps that come built-in if I dont want. I especially dont want apps that refuse to not be the default, such as the built-in not-chrome browser and the horrible Messaging app that you cant prevent from being opened by default from reminders even if you have Google Voice installed.

    2) Better integration of Google Voice.

    Why does the outgoing call history show some meaningless phone number google voice uses instead of the number of the person you actually called? It’s retarded.

    Also when you get an incoming text message or missed phone call, touching the reminder still takes you to the horrible message app even if the google voice app is installed.

  • What about a unifed game center like in iOS?

  • jalal

    I hope …like airplay for any device :-)

  • Data1001

    Google Now already has the ability to launch an app — at least, I can do it on my HTC One X+ — just say any one of these commands, and the application will start:
    “launch app [APPNAME]”
    “start app [APPNAME]”
    “load app [APPNAME]”
    “app [APPNAME]”

    I think you may have to be exact with the app name, but it works for me like a charm.

  • Sergio

    An unified Android OS for mobile, tablet, desktop and TV with 5.0 (my hope)

  • Sergio

    An unified Android OS for mobile, tablet, desktop and TV with 5.0 (my hope)

  • rapido

    It should be android 5.0 apple pie not key lime pie