In the recently concluded Google I/O 2014, Google not only announced and shed some light on the advance feature of upcoming Android Release “L” but also delivered a peek preview to the future of our Smartphones.
Those who are not familiar with Google I/O event, it is an annual developer conference with primary focus on new features added in latest Google products and ecosystem. Though the official keynotes contain material from a Developers point of view, we at TechyLab are trying to decipher things from a consumer point of view about the upcoming features in Android L release.
Before proceeding towards features of Android L, lets take a look on keynotes of Google I/O 2014. In keynotes of the event, following new services and features were announced that we are most excited about:
- AndroidOne : Android One is a new project focusing on wider reach of Android ecosystem to the people. For this, Google has analysed best quality hardware vendors for providing better quality experience. This also aims at providing Stock Android Experience to all the users. AndroidOne aims at providing auto install, so that OEMs and Carrier can decide on installation based on their requirement. Automatic update through OTA(Over To Air) will also be provided for OEMs. Google, to get started with, has chosen Indian vendors like Micromax, Karbon and Spice to provide the AndroidOne experience. AndroidOne also include Android L release, which unifies various devices with almost same API and enhanced user experience. This is one of the major announcements from Google to target developing countries, which are one of the fastest emerging market for Android products. Android L devices will sport very promising specs like 4.5″ screen, 1 GB RAM, sleek form factor, 5 MP Primary and VGA Secondary camera, based on Android L and with the promise of guaranteed updates.
- Android Wear : AndroidWear project from Google is primarily focused at wearable smartwatches. In Google I/O, Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch were launched, which are the first line of smartwatch equipped with Android Wear. Smartwatches with very intuitive UI and apps were shown as demo. Most importantly, this is another approach from Google towards unifying devices easily with any Android device running Android L version. Google has also announced partnership with Motorola to ship Moto360 smartwatch.
- AndroidAuto : AndroidAuto will be the new Android UI for automobiles. Aiming at safety first and ease to use, AndroidAuto can be unified with your car’s system using data cable. It includes controls via steering wheels and voice command, so the users don’t have to get distracted for various operations like navigating the map or changing the music.
- AndroidTV : As the name suggests itself, AndroidTV is the new system UI which integrates AndroidOne experience with Television systems. It includes seamless integration with smartphones, tablets and also smartwatches. It will also allow you to beam games from android devices on your TV.Apart from the above mentioned promising new Projects, Google also announce enhanced version of the Chromecast, Chromebooks and Mobile apps. Updated Chromecast with easy integration with various devices for casting the screen was demonstrated. Advanced authentication method was announced for Chromebooks, which will enable secured devices nearby to unlock the Chromebook without any hassles. Also Google aims to provide support of Android applications over Chromebook, so that Android applications can run seamlessly on Chromebooks, just like any native app. Mobile apps like Google docs with seamless integration with office files were also announced.
The new features of next Android Release “Android L”
- UI experience : With the new material design, the next version of Android is mostly focused towards a better user experience. Android L has rich, animated, touch feedback which runs at 60 frames per second. Higher frame rates convert to smoother transition of animation. Google also has redesigned new guidelines for developers, which means the apps in future release of Android L will have better user experience. Apart from the animations, a bold and intuitive user interface was demonstrated. 3D view with real time shadow will give enhanced depth to the screen. The system UI in Android L breaks away from the conventional black background for systems and menu, which should be breath of fresh air for Android users.
- Enhanced Notification : Notifications on Android L can now be accessed from lock screen. Double tapping the notification will directly open the apps from lock screen. Users can swipe to dismiss the notification on lock screen. Further enhanced UI while scrolling to read old notification was demonstrated in the Google I/O 2014 event. Also the notifications are not tied to the notification drawer anymore. The new notifications give a floating feel, which is somewhat similar to toast notifications in Windows Phone.
- Advanced Authentication : Personal authentication was shown as demo in the event which detects secure devices nearby and unlocks other devices without the need of a pin or password.
- Better Mobile experience : With the new material design and smoother animations at higher frame rates, a better mobile experience can be achieved on Android L. Applications with 3D tabs and better UI were also demonstrated.
- New Keyboard UI : The stock Android keyboard is pretty decent in use, but was in dire need of some enhancement on user interface. The new keyboard design in Android L not only eliminates the separators between keys but also gets a new and refreshing clean look. Nothing very flashy, but a fresh new experience.
- New Default Runtime : This is one of the most shocking but expected announcement for developers and Android enthusiasts. Leaving Dalvik runtime behind, Google has announced ART to be the the default runtime in Android L and beyond versions. A runtime is the virtual machine which is integrated in Operating System and supports many applications running into that virtual machine as a single process. ART runtime further decompresses the application files at the time of installation which causes significant speedup in app execution. ART is memory efficient in many ways with support for 64bit system. The only downside to ART is the increase in disc space usage of installed apps, which might be a point of concern for devices with less than 8 GB of internal disc space.
- Better graphics and battery life : Project Volta was announced in Google I/O for better and improved battery life in Android devices. Also using job scheduling API, new battery saver mode can be set either to be Automatic or can be set manually. The job scheduling API will check for battery hogging apps which can drain the battery juice very fast.
- Seamless integration with devices : As we read above, AnroidOne aims at providing seamless integration with all the smart devices in Android ecosystem, whether they be your smartwatch, your smartphone or your car’s system. Google announced over 5000 new APIs for developers in Android L release which aims at easy interconnection and integration between various devices. AndroidOne and Android L combined are surely something for Developers to cheer about.
- Factory Reset Protection and advanced security: Factory reset protection was announced in Google I/O event 2014, which will restrict resetting a device to its factory setting easily without passing the necessary security details. Hence it eliminates the chance of misusing an Android device after getting stolen. Also security patches for the Android system via Play Services/Play Store was announced. With the Android L release, users can now control privacy options on individual app basis, which was not possible officially in earlier releases.