We’ve all been hearing about Android Version 5 AKA “Lollipop,” but the facts are that it has only just been launched in earnest and as we stand today only about 4% of Android users are using it, however with v5.1 already here and v5 now being rolled out across most of the larger brands smartphones and tablets I thought we’d have a look into the main features that might be pretty useful to us business and enterprise folks!  This is a major update to Android, it’s exciting and full of new features but i’ve picked out the main ones here but I suggest going to the Android developer site if you want to delve into all of them more deeply.

I’ve split the features up into their main areas below:

User Interface Features

User interface is becoming more and more important in the business and enterprise markets and Android V5 doesn’t let us down in this department.  Firstly there’s a brand new look Android call “Material Design,” which seems to break the look and feel up into layers more, breaking away from the “Flat” look of today’s mobile OS’s.  I think it works really well, it’s fresh, it works and it opens the door to new UI design ideas to make apps work better.

There’s also a shadow generator that gives small shadows to certain objects which livens things up on the screen and just gives it some ooomph when it comes to looking at and working with an Android device.

The look and feel is now far more standard across all devices from phone, through Smartphone to Tablet and even to Chrome laptops.  Whilst I thought Android did this pretty well on Tablets and smartphones, it’s now even better and across more devices.

Another big change is the Nav key design.  Although the same keys are still there doing the same Home, Back and Recent apps function, they have been changed in design.  They look a lot like My PS4 controller now but that’s not a bad thing I guess!

Android Lollipop Material Design

Android Lollipop Material Design

 

Apps, Widgets and Notifications
Android 5 Notifications are vastly improved

Android 5 Notifications are vastly improved

There’s also a fair few new features in this category including 2 new controls for viewing data.  The new Recycler control is used for scrolling through data like contacts or lists of of jobs, it makes for a muvh nicer experience.  The CardView control looks very much like Google+ or Google Now and can be used to build up a page full of relevant information in one screen.

Notifications get a big update too.  First off pop up notifications full of info are now built in to Android 5.  I know I have a few downloaded apps on my phone that give me this feature but now apps can use the built in heads up notification features of Android to give you info rich updates.  This works on Android watch apps too where it will probably see the most use.

The lock screen has also got more substantial widget and information control on it so you can see your most important notifications and info without unlocking your phone and you can also unlock straight into what you’re interested in.  For the first time a mix of images, text and your inbox can be used to make rich info notifications on your lock screen

Google has also taken the opportunity to redesign a lot of it’s built in apps.  There’s a a lot competition to get your users using certain email, browser and publishing apps and GMail wasn’t really up to scratch but this has had an overhaul. Chrome also integrates far more closely with the OS and one interesting feature is that you can link directly to an app from a search.  Melding together apps and web like this will help greatly in sewing together native apps and web as 4G comes online in earnest this year.

CPU and Performance Updates

Full 64bit CPU architecture is now officially supported which not only means faster CPUs for the hardware but also how much RAM can be utilised too.  This will have significant benefits when developing applications that will be able to handle far more complex scenarios.

The new ART runtime is also 100% supported in favour of the older “Dalvik” one.  I’ve been tinkering with this on Android 4.4 devices and it definitely is faster to use and run but it uses a little bit more space on the ROM.  Not a bad trade-off in my opinion.

GPU support is also vastly better and whilst this isn’t really a feature to business/enterpriser users it’s still worthy of a mention as graphics shading, tessellation and more are handled way better than previous versions of Android.

Power and Hardware Updates

Way better battery optimisation is now sewn into the OS which Android hopes will be better than much needed add on features that many smartphone makers like Samsung have been forced to add in on v4.x devices. I haven;t had time to see this in action for real just yet but if the reality lives up to the hype then this will extend battery times significantly.  A neat feature is that your phone now tells you how long you have to wait to reach full charge when it’s charging.

Native Bluetooth v4.1 is built into Android which means you have a much better Bluetooth support.  Firstly it doesn’t interfere with your 4G signal like BT4.0 could, better connectivity control means you can control whats connected and when much better that will also have a knock on impact to battery usage. It also lets Bluetooth peripherals talk to each other much more easily so BT4.1 is geared up to the IOT era and putting Android right at the heart of it.

CarPlay allows you to connect and use your Android phone via your car system.  Much like the Microsoft systems in some US Ford motor cars, this hopes to keep Android 5 at the heart of your day whilst drive driving.

Update v5.1

There’s already been a small update to Android and what this brought was the same “LOCK/WIPE” features that IOS brought a few months ago.  This has already seen theft of smartphones drop significantly and should help to make your business tools less attractive to those looking to steal them!

So there’s what I could pull out, there’s a tonne of other features too but these are the ones I thought are most appealing to business users.

 

When will we see Android Lollipop on rugged phones?

Well, we actually have a copy now that we’ve seen running on the Raptor R4 Hybrid rugged Android smartphone, but I didn’t tell you that! truth is we like to see the consumers shake, rattle and roll with an OS for a while before we recommend it to business users but it’s not far away at all.

 

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.