Well, we still don’t know what the next version of Android is going to be called (just 'L', perhaps?), but we know it’ll be version 5.0 as opposed to 4.5 – the current release being KitKat 4.4, and before that: Jelly Bean 4.3/4.2/4.1, Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0...
With that 0.5 leap in numbering comes a whole host of features, far too many for one man to cover in a seriously short amount of time when he hasn’t even had his morning toast yet, but I’m gonna do my damnedest. GO!
Android L 5.0: Material design
The obvious starting point is Android L 5.0’s design. It’s much more vibrant and layered, with real-time shadows and floating effects. Google says it intends to “Create a consistent experience across mobile and the web with material design, the new Google-wide standard.”
Android L 5.0: “Heads-up” notifications
Similar to iOS 8, Android L 5.0 does away with the notion of having to stop what you’re doing – leaving an app or swiping down – to deal with notifications.
As such, Android L 5.0 introduces something called “Heads-up” notifications, which appear on top of whatever you happen to be looking at.
This functionality was rumoured before the Google I/O 2014 keynote, and it’s presumed that you’ll be able to customise which apps are permitted to use “Heads-up” notifications, and perhaps be able to disable them entirely if you don’t want to be disturbed.
Speaking of notifications, you’ll also be able to view them on the lock screen.
Android L 5.0: Direct links to apps from Google searches
This feature is already around in a relatively small capacity, but it’s being rolled out to all developers with Android L 5.0. I speak of the ability to link to apps – including specific portions of apps – from Google search results.
Android L 5.0: 64-bit support
Yeah, this one was inevitable. We all laughed at the iPhone 5s’ 64-bit processor last autumn, but almost immediately we heard that the next version of Android would introduce 64-bit support. For what it’s worth.
One of the obvious benefits is the ability to address larger hunks of RAM, so the spec sheet p*ssing contests can continue.
Android L 5.0: Android Wear smartwatch authentication for phones
Look, smartwatches are here to stay, so you better bloody well GET USED TO THEM. And hey, if you happen to be wearing one with Android Wear on board, it means you don’t have to enter your passcode/PIN on your smartphone. FUTURISTIC.
Android L 5.0: Project Volta
We’re happy to hear that battery life is a focus in Android L 5.0, so much so that Google has come up with the Project Volta moniker, perhaps inspired by afro-haired prog rockers The Mars Volta. Or not.
For starters, we’ve got improved battery stats, including the estimated time remaining, and the estimated amount of time it’ll take to charge your Android L 5.0 phone when you plug it in.
Meanwhile, something called Battery Historian tracks battery usage over time, while Battery Saver promises to extend the time between charges by up to 90 minutes. No complaints here.
Android L 5.0: “Kill Switch” functionality
As promised last week, Android L 5.0 comes with “Kill Switch” functionality baked right in, meaning you’ll be able to zap your phone remotely if you happen to lose it.
Various big important Americans suggest smartphones are inadvertently driving an “international crime wave”, while users have to go on a “scavenger hunt” in order to set up Lost Phone functionality.
Or, as cynical old Jan says, maybe they just want to be able to silence you in the event of civil unrest.
Android L 5.0: Other stuff
And a few more Android L 5.0 features that warrant a quick mention before I hit “Publish”: Bluetooth 4.1 support, Android Auto (Google’s answer to Apple’s CarPlay), Android TV (essentially an Android variant for Smart TVs), USB audio support, burst-mode camera APIs, phone rotation lock, improved game controller support…
If I’ve missed anything particularly jaw-dropping, by all means scold me below. Thanks in advance.