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Android 5.0 Lollipop official: what you need to know

It started life as Android L preview in June, but it has since matured into a full-blown release, ready to hit millions of Android devices over the next weeks and months. Android 5.0 Lollipop is here!

Published onOctober 15, 2014


It started life as Android L preview in June, but it has since matured into a full-blown release, ready to hit millions of Android devices over the next weeks and months. Android 5.0 Lollipop is here!

In a blog post published minutes ago, Google announced the biggest update to Android since Ice Cream Sandwich, a major change that is reflected in the version jump to Android 5.0. We’ve spent ages on Android 4.x and jumping to 5 marks the beginning of a new era in the history of our favorite operating system.

Most of the changes and new features in Android 5.0 have been introduced with the L preview, available on the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013). Expectedly, there are some small changes and surprises in the retail release, however.

Here’s a brief look at what’s new in Android 5.0 Lollipop and stay tuned for more in-depth coverage in the following hours.

Visual changes in Android 5 Lollipop

When booting up an Android Lollipop device, most users will be struck by the visual changes first. Android 5.0 brings many refinements to a user interface that’s quite mature at this point, with many small changes rather than radical departures from the past.

Some of the most visible updates are the revamped navigation bar, which now features the more abstract triangle-circle-rectangle icon set, and the status bar, which can now be colored or transparent (depending on the app) and features refreshed status icons.

The lockscreen now displays rich notifications instead of just icons, which include details about the message – it should make quickly checking messages or game notifications easier and faster than before. Speaking of notifications, there’s now heads-up mode, which we’ve seen activated in CM and other custom ROMs – this feature basically shows you a rich floating notification on top of whatever you’re doing on the phone, and lets you check and dismiss it without interrupting your activity. The lock screen also now gives you access to the caller through a rightward swipe.

Multitasking has been refreshed, and is now focused on documents instead of apps, meaning that you can have more than one card for each app – for instance, you could have a Gmail card and a separate card for sharing through Gmail that won’t disrupt your original Gmail card. The activity cards themselves are now arranged in 3D, with a smooth rolodex-style animation.

The quick settings received a refresh and got some new features, like Do Not Disturb mode and adaptive auto-brightness.

There are many other smaller changes throughout the UI that we’ll be detailing soon.

Material Design

Google launched Material Design as the new “official” design language for apps and the web. Material takes its name from the metaphor of a magical piece of paper that can change color, size, and shape instantly, existing in a space that has a Z-axis (depth), not just length and width.

Material is all about clean typography, bold and bright colors, and restrained, but delightful animations. We’ve already seen many examples of Material design in action, and Google will probably update its major apps to meet the guidelines soon.

New features in Android 5 Lollipop

There’s a multitude of small features and under-the-hood changes that should enhance the user experience and open new avenues for app developers to offer new and delightful experiences. Do Not Disturb Mode, keyboard selection icon in the nav bar, smarter battery consumption and charging estimates, RAW image support, better accessibility features are just a few of the small improvements to the feature set of Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Developer features

Developers can look forward to a much needed revamp of the Android Camera API, which will make it easier to support features like burst mode and fine settings tuning, OpenGL ES 3.1 support, smarter power management features, improved microphone latency and more. In fact, under the hood there are more than 5,000 new APIs for developers to take advantage of!

Android 5.0 Lollipop update

Nexus 9 official press (1)

Android 5.0 Lollipop will come loaded on the Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and the new Nexus Player. What about older devices? The Nexus  4, 5, 7, 10 and all Google Play Edition devices will be among the first products to see the update. No exact timeframe for when that will happen, other than the “weeks to come”. If we had to take a guess, we’d say early November, but that’s really just speculation on our part.

For a full rundown of Android 5.0 Lollipop, be sure to check out Google’s official page!

Update: Here’s the full change-log fr0m Google, if you still haven’t heard enough:

Material Design

  • A bold, colorful, and responsive UI design for consistent, intuitive experiences across all your devices
  • Responsive, natural motion, realistic lighting and shadows, and familiar visual elements make it easier to navigate your device
  • Vivid new colors, typography, and edge-to-edge imagery help to focus your attention


  • New ways to control when and how you receive messages – only get interrupted when you want to be
  • View and respond to messages directly from your lock screen. Includes the ability to hide sensitive content for these notifications
  • For fewer disruptions, turn on Priority mode via your device’s volume button so only certain people and notifications get through. Or schedule recurring downtime like 10pm to 8am when only Priority notifications can get through
  • With Lollipop, incoming phone calls won’t interrupt what you’re watching or playing. You can choose to answer the call or just keep doing what you’re doing
  • Control the notifications triggered by your apps; hide sensitive content and prioritize or turn off the app’s notifications entirely
  • More intelligent ranking of notifications based on who they’re from and the type of communication. See all your notifications in one place by tapping the top of the screen


  • Power for the long haul
  • A battery saver feature which extends device use by up to 90 mins
  • Estimated time left to fully charge is displayed when your device is plugged in
  • Estimated time left on your device before you need to charge again can now be found in battery setting


  • Keep your stuff safe and sound
  • New devices come with encryption automatically turned on to help protect data on lost or stolen devices
  • SELinux enforcing for all applications means even better protection against vulnerabilities and malware
  • Use Android Smart Lock to secure your phone or tablet by pairing it with a trusted device like your wearable or even your car

Device Sharing

  • More flexible sharing with family and friends
  • Multiple users for phones. If you forget your phone, you still can call any of your friends (or access any of your messages, photos etc.) by simply logging into another Android phone running Lollipop. Also perfect for families who want to share a phone, but not their stuff
  • Guest user for phones and tablets means you can lend your device and not your stuff
  • Screen pinning: pin your screen so another user can access just that content without messing with your other stuff

New Quick Settings

  • Get to the most frequently used settings with just two swipes down from the top of the screen
  • New handy controls like flashlight, hotspot, screen rotation and cast screen controls
  • Easier on/off toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location
  • Manually adjust your brightness for certain conditions. Then, adaptive brightness will kick in based on ambient lighting


  • A better internet connection everywhere and more powerful Bluetooth low energy capabilities
  • Improved network handoffs resulting in limited interruption in connectivity. For example, continue your video chat or VoIP calls without interruption as you leave the house and switch from your home Wi-Fi back to cellular
  • Improved network selection logic so that your device connects only if there is a verified internet connection on Wi-Fi
  • Power-efficient scanning for nearby Bluetooth low energy (“BLE”) devices like wearables or beacons
  • New BLE peripheral mode

Runtime and Performance

  • A faster, smoother and more powerful computing experience
  • ART, an entirely new Android runtime, improves application performance and responsiveness
  • Up to 4x performance improvements
  • Smoother UI for complex, visually rich applications
  • Compacting backgrounded apps and services so you can do more at once
  • Support for 64 bit devices, like the Nexus 9, brings desktop class CPUs to Android
  • Support for 64-bit SoCs using ARM, x86, and MIPS-based cores
  • Shipping 64-bit native apps like Chrome, Gmail, Calendar, Google Play Music, and more
  • Pure Java language apps run as 64-bit apps automatically


  • Bolder graphics and improved audio, video, and camera capabilities
  • Lower latency audio input ensuring that music and communication applications that have strict delay requirements provide an amazing realtime experience
  • Multi-channel audio stream mixing means professional audio applications can now mix up to eight channels including 5.1 and 7.1 channels
  • USB Audio support means you can plug USB microphones, speakers, and a myriad of other USB audio devices like amplifiers and mixers into your Android device
  • OpenGL ES 3.1 and Android extension pack brings Android to the forefront of mobile graphics putting it on par with desktop and console class performance
  • A range of new professional photography features for Android Lollipop that let you
  • Capture full resolution frames around 30 fps
  • Support raw formats like YUV and Bayer RAW
  • Control capture settings for the sensor, lens, and flash per individual frame
  • Capture metadata like noise models and optical information
  • State of the art video technology with support for HEVC main profile to allow for UHD 4K 10-bit video playback, tunneled hardware video decoding to save power and improved HLS support for streaming

Ok Google

  • Easy access to information and performing tasks
  • Even if your screen is off, you can say “OK Google” on devices with digital signal processing support such as Nexus 6 and Nexus 9
  • Talk to Google on the go to get quick answers, send a text, get directions and more

Android TV

  • Support for living room devices
  • User interface adapted for the living room
  • Less browsing, more watching with personalized recommendations for content like movies and TV shows
  • Voice search for Google Play, YouTube and supported apps so you can just say what you want to see
  • Console-style Android gaming on your TV with a gamepad
  • Cast your favorite entertainment apps to your big screen with Google Cast support for Android TV devices


  • Enhanced low vision and color blind capabilities
  • Boost text contrast or invert colors to improve legibility
  • Adjust display to improve color differentiation
  • Now in 68+ languages
  • 15 new additions
  • Basque, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese (Hong Kong), Galician, Icelandic, Kannada, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu

Device Set Up

  • Get up and running in no-time
  • Tap & go: instant set up of your new Android phone or tablet by simply tapping it to your old one (requires NFC)
  • Whenever you get a new Android phone or tablet, you can bring over your apps from Google Play automatically from any of your old Android devices
  • And a whole lot more
  • Tap & pay: easily manage multiple payment apps by quickly switching between them
  • Print preview and page range support
  • Revamped display for battery, Bluetooth, data usage, and Wi-Fi settings and new search functionality
  • New device level feedback for Nexus devices in Settings > about phone > send feedback
  • Easier sharing with Improved ranking of your options within the share menu
  • Android Beam: lets you share a file with someone nearby by gently tapping the two devices together
  • Where supported by the hardware, your device will wake up as soon as you pick it up or tap the screen twice
  • Improved hardware keyboard accessory support including support for multilingual, emoji input, search key, and improved app and system key chords

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