After an extended testing and preview period, Google has announced the final release of Android L, its latest version of the world's most popular mobile platform. Android 5.0 Lollipop is debuting on three new Nexus devices — the Nexus 6 smartphone, Nexus 9 tablet, and Nexus Player streaming media device — and will be available on the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Google Play Edition devices in the coming weeks.
Lollipop's most obvious new features come in the form of visual enhancements and user interface changes, which Google has dubbed Material Design. The platform has new, more fluid animations, a cleaner design with a bolder color palette, a revamped multittasking menu, and offers new ways to interact with your voice. Many of the new Material Design features can be seen in the recent updates that Google has released for its own Android apps such as Google+. The Material Design initiative is meant to unify the software's look and feel across various form factors, whether that's a tablet, smartphone, home media streamer, or something else.
Material Design is meant to unify the Android experience across devices
In addition to a visual overhaul, Lollipop brings over 5,000 new APIs for developers to tap into and lets multiple different Android devices with various form factors work better together. Google says that things such as songs, photos, apps, and recent searches can be seamlessly synced across various Android devices. Lollipop also includes new notification controls to limit alerts during meetings and other times, a new battery saver mode that can eke out 90 more minutes of life between charges, multiple user accounts, guest user modes, and new ways to secure your device via trusted Bluetooth connections. Lollipop will also include a protection against resetting the phone to factory defaults, which is designed to make it difficult for phone thieves to use a stolen device. Many of these features have been implemented by various Android device makers on their own smartphones and tablets for some time, but Google is now making sure they are part of the core Android experience.
Android 5.0 Lollipop is a big release for Google — it's the most significant visual update to Android since 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was released in 2011, and it lays the foundation for Android to grow as a platform outside of smartphones and tablets. Google is very clearly pushing Android as the software for the future, and it wants Android to be on every connected device we interact with. Lollipop is the first step to getting there.
Update, 1:15PM ET, October 15th, 2014: Google has confirmed that the Nexus 4 will receive an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop and this article has been updated to reflect that.
Google's New Material Design Direction