Smartphones are slowly becoming a trend here in India. Though the adoption rate of smartphones is not that high it is still a big shift from feature phones. Android has more or less been the dominant player in the smartphone race holding almost 80% of the market*; something it has achieved in a span of 4 years. While all these years the focus point of the OS was functionality, it has clearly changed this year to design. The newest update to the operating system is called Lollipop and its the best thing to happen to Android in years.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 was the last visual overhaul for the OS. The visual part remained the same from 4.0 all the way till 4.4 Kitkat. While there weren’t any visual changes, there were lots of functional changes. Android 5.0 Lollipop brings a complete visual overhaul, but that’s not it. It also brings some really differentiating features to better your smartphone experience.
Notifications have been a key feature of Android for sometime now. Android’s pull-down notification drawer became so ubiquitous, that most other operating systems also adopted the method. Lollipop retains the functionality but takes it to the next level by providing interactive notifications right on the lockscreen. Apps display notifications the moment you hit the power button without having to unlock the phone. These notifications are detailed and contain information from the notifying app, this can be hidden if case you have privacy concerns. There is complete freedom to choose apps that will notify on the lockscreen. You can dismiss notifications straight from the lockscreen too.
Multi User Mode
The multi user mode has been a feature of the OS since Android 4.1 but was exclusive to tablets. The feature allows the user to make multiple user accounts on one device, so you can prevent one user from snooping into content of the others. As Google rightly puts it, “Share your phone, not your stuff”. There is a guest mode as well which is quite handy when you have to temporarily lend your phone to someone. You can simply hand it over in “Guest Mode” without worrying about your data on the phone. The “Guest” get their own space to install apps and games as they wish, which can be easily flushed once you switch back to your account.
Quick Settings have been a part of Android since Android 4.2 Jelly Bean but with Android Lollipop they have just got better and quicker to access. Quick Settings is now easier to access with two single swipes from the top of the screen. One swipe from the lockscreen will get you to the settings and its much easier to toggle their states now. Simply tapping on the icon will toggle the state, way more convenient than long pressing the icon like in the previous versions. This might not seem much but it saves multiple clicks effectively getting the work done. There are buttons for Flashlight and Auto-Rotate now. The quick settings menu is dynamic and adds/removes toggles based on your usage. The quick settings is not only a toggle hub, it now shows more information about a toggle — a context sensitive, multi-level toggle. For example clicking the mobile carrier toggle will open up a small screen displaying the data usage. Mobile data can also be toggled from this screen.
Project Volta/Battery Saver Mode
Battery isn’t a strong point for most smartphones. On Android many apps (including Google Apps) wake the processor up repeatedly to get tasks done. This is one the major reasons for poor battery life. A phone sitting idle can lose precious juice because of these. Android Lollipop tries to address this with Project Volta but the apps need to be optimized to use it. There is a dedicated battery saver mode that switches off the cores of the processor along with Auto Sync to save battery life. It can be enabled all the time but there is an option to automate it at two points a) when the battery reaches 15%, b) when the battery reaches 5%. This is the time when you’d use the phone only for the absolute essentials and the mode will pull the phone through longer. Only the app you are using can connect to the net.
Smart Lock is a feature introduced with Android Lollipop, it lets your paired Smartwatch or Bluetooth wearable act as a key for unlocking your phone. With a trusted bluetooth device paired, the phone no longer asked for an unlock code. You can swipe to unlock and go about doing stuff. NFC can also be used for smart unlocking, the presence of an NFC chip will unlock the phone. NFC and Bluetooth were the only option when Lollipop was launched but now after a Google Play Services update Trusted Location has been added. This uses an approximate location (within a range of 100 meters) and unlocks the phone when you are in a trusted location (like your home).
Lollipop was made with security in mind, the operating system now offers encryption. The phones that come preinstalled with Android Lollipop are encrypted by default whereas it isn’t on by default on phones that get the Lollipop update. Encryption now uses a stronger 256-bit key as compared to the 128 bit in the older versions of Android. What that means is even if your data is retrieved by connecting the phone to a computer, it’ll take a thief years to decrypt your data.
Which of these feature did you like the most? Do comment and let us know
As of Jan 2015, the following phones are running on Android 5.0 Lollipop
- Google Nexus 6 32GB — Rs. 43,999
- HTC One M8 — Rs. 40,000
- LG G3 — Rs. 38,000
- Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) — Rs. 29,999
- Google Nexus 5 — Rs. 27,500
- Google Nexus 4 — Rs. 24,500 (Discontinued)
- Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen) — Rs. 12,999
- Motorola Moto G 8GB — Rs. 9,999 (Discontinued)