Google I/O 2014: Android L preview reveals major updates and improved battery life

Google has given a sneak preview the new version of Android, codenamed L, at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco.

Expected to be called 5.0 Lollipop, the software features a user interface heavily modified and redesigned from last year’s Android KitKat. All apps have been given a visual makeover with new fonts, spacing, colours and general layout.

Developers can add animations and transitions to every screen of their app, and these can even be used when switching between apps, all in an attempt to make using Android a smoother and more seamless experience.

Notifications in Android L are ordered on the lock screen based on the popularity of the relevant application - use Facebook more than email and chat messages will appear above received emails.

Google claims we waste a huge amount of time every day by unlocking our phones, so to help speed things up - yet ensure our phones and their content remains safe - Google has developed Personal Unlocking. The system leaves your phone unlocked when it knows it is somewhere safe. If it is connected to a Bluetooth device, such as an Android Wear smartwatch, then the phone will remain unlocked, as it assumes if your watch is nearby then you are too and the phone is safe.

Android L also leaves your phone unlocked when connected to trusted Wi-Fi networks, such as at home or in the office. Only when the phone is out of reach and away from a trusted Wi-Fi network will it lock itself.

Apps are replacing the web

Also new for Android L is the way Google search results in Chrome are dealt with. They still look the same, but when you tap on a result for a restaurant on Open Table, for example, the Open Table app is opened (if installed), instead of taking you to the website. Further integrating the web and apps, Android L puts all open Chrome tabs in the multitasking panel along with any running apps.

Battery saving is a hot topic for all smartphone makers at the moment, and it’s no exception at Google, which claims Android L can provide up to 90 minutes of extra usage per typical day.

Developers can get to work on applications for Android L right away, while the software will be released to the public in the autumn.

HTC says it is already working on bringing L to One (M7) and (M8), and it should arrive by the end of the year.

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