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In the loop: 10 things you need to know about Android L
A software update is on its way to give Android handsets a new lease of life. It’s called Android L and should hit most new Android phones and tablets by the end of the year. The O2 Gurus are tingling with anticipation – so here are the ten things you need to know about Android L:
- It’ll give your phone a whole new look
The first thing you’ll notice is that Android has had a bit of a makeover. Google’s calling its new look “material design”, using bold colours to highlight the most important information on screen. Overall it looks a lot smarter – and for the first time, the software should look the same on all Android phones, tablets, Android Wear smartwatches, Android TV and Android car systems too.
- It’ll help all your Android devices play nicely together
Not only will all Android devices look the same, they’ll also be better at talking to each other. For example, Android TV will be powered by Android L with Google Cast built-in, so you can just swipe movies and shows from your phone onto your TV. Android L also features a contactless unlock feature that will unlock your smartphone when you’re nearby. It works by connecting to your Android smartwatch over Bluetooth – a bit like keyless entry for you car.
- You’ll be able to see what’s going on without unlocking your phone
Notifications get a big overhaul in Android L. Alerts about new messages, emails, calls and apps will appear in a scrollable list on your lock screen so you can see what’s going on at a glance. Then you can swipe into a specific message or dismiss them all without having to unlock the screen. Easy.
- It’ll help you stay in shape
The Samsung Galaxy S5’s built-in heart rate monitor and health apps have paved the way for fitness-friendly smartphones and Android L looks set to take things a step further. Apps will be able to access fitness data from the sensors on your Android devices, which could mean anything from your phone counting your steps to a bionic contact lens measuring your blood sugar levels sometime in the future.
If you’re interested in how your smartphone and wearable tech can help you get in shape, tune in to LBC Radio this Saturday at 8.30pm, when O2 Guru Davina will be talking all things fitness tech. Find out more here.
- Android L can handle more power than ever before
For all its snazzy new design and fun new features, the update wouldn’t be much use without improved performance. Thankfully Android L delivers: Google has confirmed that the software will support 64-bit smartphone processors and work on ART Android Runtime (ART) – that’s tech-speak for it being compatible with lightning fast, super-powerful phones.
- All your apps will work together
Google wants all Android apps to work smoothly together and Android L is a step in that direction. The idea is that it treats web pages you have open in the Chrome browser the same way that it does apps. There’s a handy ‘Recents’ section which contains a scrollable list of all your most recent apps and browser pages in one place, so you can switch seamlessly between them and multi-task like a pro.
- Your battery should last longer
Android L has battery saving built into its DNA through a scheme called Project Volta. It involved developers testing how apps and programs eat into your phone’s battery life, and taking steps to make the OS more energy efficient. This data has been shared with app makers so they can stop their apps sapping your battery unnecessarily. Android L will also include Battery Saver mode, which can automatically shut down non-essential apps when your battery drops below a certain amount.
- It probably won’t be called Android L
We reckon that Google will follow its tradition of naming Android versions after sweet treats. Previous names include Honeycomb, Jellybean and the latest version – KitKat. It’s pretty much a given that the next version will begin with an L, so Lollipop could be a safe bet. But we wouldn’t be surprised if Google throws a curve ball and goes for something like Lemon Tart or even Liquorice Allsorts – you heard it here first!
- You could get it before the end of the year
Android L has already been released to developers so they can begin designing apps for the new operating system. But we’ll have to wait a little longer before we can get it on our phones – Google says the final version should be ready in ‘fall’ (that’s Autumn to us Brits). Once that happens, you may have to wait for your phone maker to test and release the update: most are believed to be aiming to get the update out before the end of the year.
- But your phone might not get it
Unsurprisingly, Google’s own devices like the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 will be among the first to get the update. Some other manufacturers have confirmed which of their models will be getting Android L: HTC is bringing it to the HTC One M8 and One M7 smartphones within 90 days of Android L’s launch, and Motorola has announced that the Moto X and Moto G will be getting the upgrade.
These are the only official confirmations so far, but we’d also expect other top end Android phones like the Sony Xperia Z2 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 to see the update. As Android L requires certain hardware features, older phones may not be so lucky. Time for an upgrade? Check out our line-up of Android phones.
What are you most looking forward to about Android L? Let us know on Twitter @O2 or leave us a comment below.
Find out what else has got the O2 Gurus excited in the world of tech by clicking here.