By Ben Stinson
Continuing Google's trend of naming its operating systems after tasty treats, they've plumped with the name 'Lollipop' for the 5th edition of their mobile OS, and as you'd expect there is plenty of new features to sink your teeth into.
Tasty New Features
First up there's been an overhaul of the design. That's not to say that Lollipop feels unfamiliar to existing Android users, Google has concentrated on making every animation, transition and menu feel that little bit more tactile. The design is clean and simple, but feels like it has more depth than previous iterations, whilst making Android look more uniform across a range of devices - be it smartphone, tablet, watch or even your car.
Fast New Underpinnings
Without boring you with too much of the details, Android had previously relied on a 'runtime' called Dalvik through which other parts of the OS communicate. In Lollipop, they've switched to a faster runtime known as 'ART', which is reportedly twice as fast, allowing applications to be more memory and battery efficient, whilst also bringing support for 64-bit processing.
Android Ready to Take Over Your TV
Google's taken a few stabs at the 'smart TV' market, most recently (and most successfully) with the Chromecast stick. Android TV, however, is more than just a streaming platform, combining games, films, TV and more on one platform, whilst baking the familiarity of Android to make you feel right at home.
The Asus-made Nexus Player is the first such device, which is already available in the US, and will hopefully cross the pond in time for Christmas. Other big-name brands have signed up alongside Asus such as Sony, Philips and Sharp, so expect to see it built into TVs starting sometime next year. ?
Handy Tips & Tricks
Gain total control over lock screen notifications
Worried about security? Google has done a lot to improve this, including the ability to hide sensitive content in notifications. You'll have complete control over what shows up and what doesn't, and there's also settings to turn them off whilst you're watching a video, or doing something important.
Decide what's important with Priority Mode
?Much like Apple's 'Do Not Disturb', you can now decide which notifications can get through whilst this option is enabled, so that you're not disturbed. You can even set specific times at which this mode is automatically enabled.
Give a guest your device without worrying about prying eyes
Whilst multiple accounts have been around for a while, now you can you easily loan your device to a friend with 'Guest Mode'. When activated it gives them access to all the main Android apps without your own personal apps and data.
NFC made useful with Tap and Go
Near-field communications has been around for a while now, but most have struggled to find useful applications for it. Tap and Go is a dead easy way to setup your new Android phone or tablet by simply tapping it with your old one. Whenever you get a new Android device this simple tap will allow you to sync your apps and other data automatically, vastly speeding up the setup process.?
10 Top Changes from Android 4.x
- Better battery life
- Improved Google Now
- Lock screen notifications
- Stock Battery Saver options
- Tap-to-wake as standard
- Native 4K video playback
- Support for USB Audio devices
- Inbuilt 'Do Not Disturb' mode
- OK Google can wake your device
Although developers have had access to it on earlier hardware since the end of June, it's currently only available on Google's own brand new Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet (made by Motorola and HTC respectively). With most major manufacturers announcing that they'll be upgrading 2014 handsets to Lollipop, it'll soon find its way onto your Android of choice, though, so sit tight and keep an eye out for further announcements.