A Look at Lollipop & the New Nexus Lineup
October 20, 2014
Willy Wonka would be thrilled by Google’s naming convention for the Android operating system. The majority of its mobile platform releases have been named after delicious treats, and October 15th’s release was no different. Let’s all say “Hello, World!” to Android 5.0 Lollipop as well as the new line of Nexus devices.
To start things off, Android is delicious. Just look at the names! Gingerbread? KitKat? You might even gain weight just staring at the devices. Jokes aside, the operating system made its commercial debut in September 2008 with v1.0, API Level 1. API Level 2, released on February 2009 as a minor version (v1.1)
Fast forward to April 2009: a unique naming convention was born! Android Cupcake! From that point on, the deserts kept flowing: Donut; Eclair, Eclair, and Eclair again (minor versions are not graced with a unique name); Froyo; Gingerbread; Honeycomb; Ice Cream Sandwich; Jelly Bean; KitKat; and finally, Android Lollipop.
The latest entry is not quite ready for prime time; currently available as a developer pre-release, Lollipop’s expected official release date is somewhere around November 1st.
So… what’s the big deal?
Let’s take a look at some of the features:
Material Design – a style being pushed by Google which, at its core, is about keeping the interface intuitive yet bold, relying on visual cues, edges, and colors to stay beautiful and functional.
Notifications – a core feature on all mobile devices, updated to allow a more seamless integration with how folks use their devices. Scheduled quiet times are now available, but can be overridden by higher “Priority” apps that warrant the distraction; incoming calls are now less intrusive to avoid interrupting your current game of Candy Crush; and there’s a better lock screen integration that interacts with notifications while keeping your device secure;
Battery – updated to try and squeeze every last second of precious battery life. More details to come about exactly what this feature provides that conventional 3rd party battery savers cannot do;
Device Sharing – Multiple users per device, as well as a guest user, means that you can share your device while keeping your data private1.
OK Google – DSP (Digital Signal Processing) support in the new Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices will let you interact with your device while the screen is off. (Can’t wait for the “OK Google: Factory Reset” prank videos!)
Device set up – Remember the days of having to re-input all your contacts, settings, and apps when changing devices? Not with Lollipop! If your old device supports NFC (Near Field Communication), simple tap your new device to your old one and your new device will be set up instantly2
What about the devices?
How about the Nexus 6? $649 of upgrades to every facet that made the Nexus 5 so great. You may note, however, that the word “affordable” was dropped from the feature list. The Nexus 5 (2013 device) started at $349 (16GB), while the Nexus 4 (2012 device) had mouths agape with its $299 (8GB) entry level model, off contract. Compared to other devices of the time that were nearing the $600 mark, that was a deal you couldn’t pass up. That was two years ago though, and it’s now understood that Nexus is a valuable product. You get a stock Android experience, freedom from contracts, and practically guaranteed Android upgrades with minimal effort & delays. Gizmodo’s Brian Barrett speaks to this a bit further.
The Nexus 9 follows a similar trend as far as hardware and price is concerned, offering WIFI-only of 16GB ($399) or 32GB ($479) and a 32GB LTE ($599) version functional on all major US carriers.
The days leading up to an Android and Nexus announcement are always abuzz with rumors about the specific date, the name, etc. While they’re not as flashy (or as expensive) as an Apple product announcement, people are just as, if not more, interested in what Google has to say. Are you looking forward to getting Android L on your existing device? What’s the most anticipated feature or design change you’re hoping to see? Let us know your thoughts @GeekHive, and feel free to share your experience with the pre-release version!
1- Let’s be clear. Security 101 states that physical access to a device is a huge leap in being able to access a device. Even with a Guest mode, it would be unwise to lend your personal device unattended to someone you don’t know or trust.
2 – Instantly, as per the documentation. Realistically, it’ll probably take a few minutes, a bunch of data churn, and a few reboots.
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