Leaves turn colors, friends grow older, and new stores or homes replace old ones. For all intents and purposes, people tend to think of change as something we can see with our eyes, even if it’s just as much that which we can’t. When Google unveiled Android 4.4 last year, more than a few Android fans questioned the lack of change: the status icons were now a different color, but superficially there was very little to differentiate KitKat from Jelly Bean. This held even more true after countless OEMs placed their skins on the vanilla OS. This year however, things are different. This year, we’re all living in Google’s material world.
Business Insider recently met with Hiroshi Lockheimer, Android’s VP of Engineering, to discuss the very visual alterations to Android 5.0, and the results are nothing short of fascinating. For one thing, he revealed that the development team had been thinking about a major design overhaul since the Gingerbread/Honeycomb era, but could only now fully realize that goal. This was largely due to a perfectionist-type approach, something that fell into place this year with the fully realized vision of Material Design.
In addition to the visual overhaul, the actual performance has been upgraded yet again, with the full time employment of Android Runtime (ART), which was previewed in 4.4 but now fully introduced in Lollipop, making a real difference. On this matter, the VP said, “…the user interface is going to feel a lot smoother and more fluid. You won’t see the stutters you used to see.”
The interview also offered a window into the world of Samsung, Meizu, and other Android skinners. Responding to the role the Nexus devices have, Lockheimer said that, “we’re not trying to compete with Samsung or HTC or LG. We’re not competing with ourselves. The main reason we do Nexus is to show, internally, for ourselves, without doing it in the abstract.” According to the exec, Nexus is truly a development tool that is almost proof-of-concept, thus all the more ironic (and impressive) for so many customers around the world to be gobbling them up.
Android is about celebrating the diversity of devices. It’s not one size fits all
One of the most profound quotes, however, is that Android “is about celebrating the diversity of devices. It’s not one size fits all.” This couldn’t be more true, with Google’s OS on everything from phones to tablets to watches to prescription lenses. Even then there is an incredible range of products, with phones alone spanning a scant 4 inches to pushing the boundaries at a whopping 7-inch. It’s refreshing to know that Google is pleased with the way things have turned out, that it has created a thriving ecosystem for all these different players to exist and flourish in.
Android Lollipop is, to be sure, the most dynamic change in the history of Android. As it rolls out to more devices in the coming months, users around the globe will begin to experience its new features and functions. We are all eager to see what’s in store for the future, but things look pretty sweet right here and now.