Over 81% of smartphones are using Android, and the Android smartphone market-share has increased by at least 20% since 2012. If that does not make you think a bit, let me introduce you to Android 5.0 Lollipop: “The biggest release in the history of Android”.
What makes Android 5.0 so special is the way improved user interface, better performance in certain work-loads, way better battery management, the all awaited notification delivery system (NDS) and the security this update brings. What makes it stand out from the other operating systems is the default RAW support. This is a feature that is very well welcomed, as it enables a lot of ways to edit the photos that you shoot with your device.
Google really makes a big thing out of the Material Design (MD) philosophy which is not by any mean a bad decision. This design language is characterized the best by Google as “Bold, graphic, intentional”. At its core, it brings a relaxed layout with loose guidelines with typographical based graphics and intuitive animation at butter-smooth framerates. The combination is successful one, as it combines the beauty part with the practical part in a harmonically way. As Matias Duarte from google said: “Material design is beautiful and bold”. He was totally right. Not only that the UI is improved by this design philosophy, the UX is also improved by an important margin, giving the user the best experience ever encountered on an Android device, and not only.
Besides material design, Lollipop introduces a new runtime called ART that not only improves the performance, but also improves in security. Android Runtime gets things done much quicker by compiling things when the application is installed unlike Dalvik which complied the bytecode every time the application was launched. By doing this ahead-of-time compilation, the OS feels much more responsive. Pairing the ahead-of-time compilation with the garbage collection results in a butter-smooth experience, which lasts for a long time.
With those to improvements, it would have been a pity not to revamp the Notification Delivery System. Here, Lollipop has improved in a significant way. Now, the screen shows a black and white picture of your lock screen every time a new notification comes in. This is a really neat feature, as it saved me quite a bunch of useless wake-ups, just to check what a message contained, if the person that texted me was important, or just checking for any important e-mail. What I really like about the new NDS was that it really helps you catch any notification that pops-up on your device. And the best thing of all, if you happen to dislike it (I do not think is the case), you can always turn the glowing screen off, and return to the standard NDS.
There are also a lot of small features that really make this release a great success. One of this feature is the support of RAW image shooting. This will make the life of many aspiring photographers a little bit easier until they can afford a full-fledged DSLR. Another mentionable feature is the Synchronization between devices. This feature makes the life of users that have more than one Android device. For example, if you have a Facebook account logged in on one device, as long as you are logged-in with the same Google account, if you dismiss a notification on one device, it should be dismissed on the other devices as well. The Quick Settings menu was also revamped in terms of usability. Now, the most important settings are on the top, and the least important ones are towards the bottom.
One of the most important features that have been introduced with Lollipop, is the ability to prioritize some contacts over others, and setup down-time hours, when you do not want to be disturbed by anyone, but you still want to be able to be contacted by your family for example. I really use this feature when I am at school, and I do not want to be disturbed by mails or text messages or calls, but I still want to be reachable by my family in case of emergency.
With all of those fantastic features, Lollipop brings a new and improved user experience. From the moment you boot my device the first time up until now, I was really pleased with the experience. This time, day-to-day applications can be accessed much easier, as the applications in the drawer can be sorted by the number of launches. This doesn`t mean, that applications that you rarely used are harder to access, so it`s a really balanced solution.
All of this sounds pretty good, but there are some temporary problems that are going to be fixed in the future. One of that problem is the lack of reset button on the power menu, is quite frustrating sometimes. The other problem is the low adoption rate from the launc h. This is not Google`s fault, as they are not responsible of the update. The problem comes from the device OEM`s that are not doing their job of keeping devices up to date.
In conclusion, Lollipop is a great update to the Android ecosystem. Even if it has some minor problems, it is still a good one, as those bugs will be fixed with minor update in the near future. In my opinion, Google really nailed it this time, with the all new Material Design, the enhanced user experience and the best feature set in terms of mobile OS. I really like that Google started looking to entry-level devices, as the minimum specs are fairly low with a minimum 256 MB of RAM.
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