At the Google I/O 2014 on Wednesday, Google announced the latest version of Android, called Android L. It’s not revealed yet what the ‘L’ stands for, but what is known is that Android L is Google’s major reinvention of Android.
With Android L, the UI of Android has undergone some major changes and this post presents you the Highlights of Android L that were explained at Google I/O 2014.
Matias Duarte, head of Android design at Google, unveiled the concept behind the new look of Android L – Material Design. Material Design is about making elements on the UI cast shadows, improving textures and bringing bright colors. It helps in enabling a three dimensional view of UI casting real-time shadows. The inspiration for this concept is the paper and ink, says Matias Duarte.
Material Design also redesigned the Back, Home and Recent buttons with a triangle, circle and a square. Material Design isn’t just for Android. It is adaptive even to Chrome OS.
The next big thing for Android L is that, the OS gets to cars through Android Auto, to watches through Android wear, and finally to your TV through Android TV.
Android Auto, Android wear and Android TV:
Google announced Android auto at the Google I/O which is a means for drivers to access their Android smartphones to the fullest extent without letting their hand off their steering. Yes, it’s a hands-free usage with some touchscreen interface. While navigating, turn by tun directions are spoke out loud and the driver can reply back in voice. To activate voice reply, the steering wheel button can be used. The touch overview screen provides information such as notifications from Google Now and many other apps. Google announced that 40 automobile brands have already signed up to Android Auto.
To help developers build their own automotive apps, SDK is being made available for Android Auto.
Android wear is not an unfamiliar subject to most of us. Android wear is a smart watch running on Android OS that brings you notifications, alerts and much more information directly to your wrist. It is estimated that people check their phones almost 125 times a day and this can be minimized as Android Wear brings all the essential notifications and information on the user’s wrist. Notifications on apps on Android wear can be controlled by swiping left and right while swiping up and down brings up different commands. By pressing and holding on the screen of the watch, you can even customize the backgrounds too!
Google then unveiled the new version Android for the living room – Android TV. Android TV brings apps,music,movies and TV shows besides bringing Android to your TV. It will show live content and the UI will be similar. Users can surf live channels as they do on a regular TV. Again, Android TV is based on the basic Material Design UI of Android L. To navigate on an Android TV, a regular remote with a voice input and a d-pad is required and manufacturers can build this in a regular remote too. And if a remote is not available, the Android TV can be controlled with your Smartwatch too.
Android.com/TV will be the developer site for Android TV.
Google has got a new project for Android L called ‘Project Volta’. According to this, Android L comes with a battery historian that allows developers the effect of specific apps or features on the device’s battery. A new feature called ‘Job scheduler’ allows the developers to optimize power consumption for an app!
Along with all of this, Android L will have a battery saver mode, which when enabled, gives some rest to the CPU, limit the screen refresh rate and slice down background data.
Personal Unlocking and Factory Reset Projection:
In Android L, a new feature called ‘Personal Unlocking’ is being introduced. This enables that the phone is secure without using any pin codes or pattern unlocks. Personal unlocking is a feature with the help of which the user can set a specific location as safe and the phone then knows it’s safe to unlock without the use of Pin or pattern in that location.
The next feature is the Kill Switch or Factory reset Projection as put by Google. This feature enables the user to erase all the personal data on the phone when it is stolen.
Notifications receive an improved UI in Android L. The seamless response that Google showed at Google I/O is the first to come in Android. In Android L, only those notifications which are important to the user appear on the lock screen. And how does the phone know which notifications are important and necessary? Android L observes the usage of the phone user and understands his priorities and based on them, it sets forward those notifications which are necessary.
Android L on Chrome OS:
Chromebook laptops run on Chrome OS and these will have tight coupling with Android L. Similar tot he personal unlocking feature explained above, Chromebook will recognize if your phone is nearby and it lets you log in withour providing any password. Notifications, calls, messages and battery status from your Android device can be managed on your Chromebook!
Android Run Time (ART):
The ART software which was available to the developers only as a preview until Kitkat will be available in full on the Android L. ART is faster than the previous Dalvik compiler and is 64-bit compatible and it allows Android to run on different platforms.
Enhanced Chrome experience on mobile:
Android L introduces the easier tab switching that has become possible with the Material Design concept. Avni Shah, the director of project management for Chrome at Google explained how the UI of mobile web with Chrome has changed on Android L.
The recent tabs from the chrome will align in an intuitive manner in such a way that simple slide up or down the screen will reveal what the recently browsed tabs are. It gives a new way of accessing URLs and gives a faster access to content at 60 frames per second.
Android at Work:
Android L has another Android at Work Feature that lets enterprise users keep their corporate stuff separate from the personal stuff on their android devices. This ensures extra security for work data and extra privacy for personal data.
Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG and motorola have confirmed that they will be supporting Android at Work. Google also announced that Google Docs users now edit Microsoft Office Files inside Google Docs itself.
Android L SDK for Nexus 5 and Nexus 7:
Google announced that Android L is currently a work-in-progress project and will not be rolling out until fall this year. But Android developers can take advantage of the SDK that Google will provide on June 26th for Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 devices.
These are the major highlights of Android L from the Google I/O keynote on Wednesday. We will keep updating with relevant posts and videos so be sure to stay tuned!
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