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6 small changes in Android L that make a big difference

Aside from the bigger hitters, there's plenty of small but very welcome changes in Android L. Join us as we take a look at what we've discovered so far.
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.


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

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 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.


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)

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.


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!