Android L features revealed: Networking improvements


The latest version of Google's mobile OS has seemingly left no stone unturned, with Android L's new multitasking view and revamped notification panel being some of the most dramatic changes we've seen in a while. Still, there are a few less-dramatic changes to the OS that you might miss. This includes some tweaks in the Wi-Fi settings menu that include some new additions and subtle changes.

Rearranging the furniture


The action bar in the Wi-Fi Settings has changed locations from KitKat, moving from the bottom to the top.

One of the first things you'll notice in the new Wi-Fi menu is that things have been moved around a bit. The action bar is now located on the top, above the dedicated Wi-Fi toggle. 


KitKat (left) Wi-Fi menu next to the new Android L menu (right).

Gone is the WPS button and the option to add a network on the action bar, though these options can be accessed but tapping on the action overflow button. Other than these two additions, the action overflow menu remains the same. 

Write Wi-Fi creds to NFC tag


Users can now write their Wi-Fi network's loging credentials to a NFC tag right from the settings.

Possibly the most interesting change in the Wi-Fi settings is revealed when you long-press on the network you're currently connected to. Here, in addition to forgetting or modifying the network, Android L offers the ability to write a Wi-Fi network's login credentials to a NFC tag for easy connection. 

This might seem like a nerdy way of connecting to Wi-Fi, and there are apps that have allowed this for quite a while now. Still, seeing this built right into the settings menu is welcome. Now you can use a good, secure, complicated password for your Wi-Fi network while making it easy for your friends and houseguests to connect by tapping their phone on an NFC tag. 

Ok, so the changes in the Wi-Fi menu are few and far between, but the small things really can make a difference. And not every networking change is apparent on the surface.


One of those invisible, under-the-hood changes is the addition of multi-networking. This allows the Android OS to connect to and maintain multiple simultaneous internet connections of various types. It's been a feature of other operating systems for years, and it's nice to see it coming to Android. 

The biggest benefit of this is that your phone won't have to disconnect-and-reconnect between various networks whenever a new connection is needed. For example, if you want to send an MMS over the cellular connection and you're currently connected to WiFi, performance suffers as the phone jumps between connections. If you've ever lost your Wi-Fi connection and had to wait 15 seconds to start getting data over your cellular connection, you know the pain point Google's trying to eliminate here.

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