Android “Lollipop” is the upcoming version 5.0 release of the Android mobile operating system developed by Google, unveiled on June 25, 2014, released in beta the next day for selected Google Nexus devices, and slated for the final release on October 17, 2014. The most prominent changes in “Lollipop” include a redesigned user interface built around a responsive design language referred to as “material design”, and improvements to the notification system which allow them to be accessed from the lockscreen, and displayed within other apps as banners across the top of the screen. Internal changes were also made to the platform, with the Android Runtime (ART) officially replacing Dalvik for improved application performance, and changes intended to improve and optimize battery usage.
Android “Lollipop” was first unveiled on June 25, 2014 during a keynote presentation at the Google I/O developers’ conference. Alongside Lollipop, the presentation focused on a number of new Android-oriented platforms and technologies, including Android TV, in-car platform Android Auto, wearable computing platform Android Wear, and health tracking platform Google Fit.
Part of the presentation was dedicated to a new cross-platform design language referred to as “material design”. Expanding upon the “card” motifs first seen in Google Now, it is a cleaner design with increased use of grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows. Designer Matías Duarte explained that “unlike real paper, our digital material can expand and reform intelligently. Material has physical surfaces and edges. Seams and shadows provide meaning about what you can touch.” The material design language will not only be used on Android, but across Google’s suite of web software as well, providing a consistent experience across all platforms
Android “Lollipop” introduces a refreshed notification system. Individual notifications are now displayed on cards to adhere to the material design language, and batches of notifications can be grouped by the app that produced them. Notifications are now displayed on the lock screen as cards, and “heads up” notifications can also be displayed as large banners across the top of the screen, along with their respective action buttons. A do-not-disturb feature is also added for notifications. The recent apps menu was redesigned to use a three-dimensional stack of cards to represent open apps. Individual apps can also display multiple cards in the recent menu, rather than only one entry per app; for example, a web browser can show all of its open tabs as individual cards.
Android “Lollipop” also contains major new platform features for developers, with over 5,000 new APIs added for use by applications. Additionally, the Dalvik virtual machine was officially replaced by Android Runtime (ART), which is a new runtime environment that was introduced as a technology preview in KitKat.ART is a cross-platform runtime which supports the x86, ARM, and MIPS architectures in both 32-bit and 64-bit environments. Unlike Dalvik, which uses just-in-time compilation (JIT), ART compiles apps upon installation, which are then run exclusively from the compiled version from then on. This technique removes the processing overhead associated with the JIT process, improving system performance.
Android “Lollipop” also aims to improve battery consumption through a series of optimizations known as “Project Volta”. Among its changes are a new battery saver mode, job scheduling APIs which can restrict certain tasks to only occur over Wi-Fi, and batching of tasks to reduce the overall amount of time that internal radios are active. The new developer tool called “Battery Historian” can be used for tracking battery consumption by apps while in use.The Android Extension Pack APIs also provide graphics functions such as new shaders, aiming to provide PC-level graphics for 3D games on Android devices.
A number of system-level, enterprise-oriented features were also introduced under the banner “Android for Work”: Samsung contributed its Knox security framework for segregating personal and work-oriented data from each other on a device, along with accompanying APIs for managing the environment. Devices can also be configured so that users do not have to unlock their device with a PIN or pattern if it is within a trusted, physical location, or is in proximity to a user’s Android Wear device. Device encryption will be enabled by default.