It is hard to resist making statements that compare my excitement over Google I/O 2014 to feeling like a kid in a candy shop, when you learn that the next version of Android will be called ‘Lollipop’ (and if you notice, I just did it anyway). Just as we expected, Google took the opportunity to introduce their next generation operating system at their annual conference… and it all sounds pretty great (if not a little familiar to many of the changes Apple is also making to iOS in their upgrade).
Nicknamed ‘L’ (because each new release is named in alphabetical order), Lollipop is Google’s attempt at synthesizing their design elements between each of their mobile, desktop and web environments. As the conference progresses, I am certain we will learn more about each change and what it really means for the future of Android –but until then, let’s whet your appetite with a few highlights of what we can expect:
New Design Language – Being described as ‘material design’, most of the changes will mean a lot more to developers than users. What do you need to know? Because pixels will have greater depth and dimensionality, everything on your Android device will follow this new theme and is about to look a lot nicer (with enhancements making graphics brighter, more crisp, and with proper shadowing).
Performance Enhancements – The big news here is that Android L will continue to use the runtime introduced with KitKat, which is claimed to run at least twice as fast as previous versions. This translates into better memory management, increased resource efficiency, and the ability to take full advantage of more powerful chips like Nvidia’s Tegra K1.
Notifications – Everybody’s favourite topic when it comes to mobile operating systems is notifications. With additional interactive access on the lock screen, and new drop-downs (that Google is calling ‘Heads-Up’) the notification system on Android is doing what Apple just did: adopt the best ideas from your competition to make a stronger feature overall.
Odds and Sods – There are lots of little bits that everybody is still processing. Google has improved and prettied-up the multitasking view (using stacked cards), there are 5,000 new APIs, round icons instead of square, Roboto font works on every screen and there are updates to the keyboard and quick settings menu as well.
Developers are getting their hands on Lollipop today, though the rest of us (unfortunately) have to wait until the fall.