Android L: Top 8 new features

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 25 Jun 2014

New Android Logo

While Google did not release the next version of Android, it did give us a fair preview of all the new features and enhancements it is working on for ‘Android L’. The upcoming version of Android is going to be the biggest update of the mobile OS ever from Google and contains a major UI and UX refresh along with a number of new features.

Read below to find out about the top 8 new features introduced by Google in Android L. 

Material Design

Google is once again giving Android a major UI revamp with its new Material Design. This time though, the UI changes are going to be consistent across all its products and platform including the web, mobile and other ecosystems like iOS. This new theme takes cues from Google Now’s card layout and the newly introduced UI on the Google+ app.

Apps using the new Material Design reference sport a cleaner and colorful look along with new animations that provide a certain depth and ripple effect. In fact, every UI element in Android L can have a certain “depth”, making it more attractive and easier for users to interact with.

The new Dialer app in Android L

Enhanced Notifications

Google has finally taken a leaf out of Apple’s book and introduced lockscreen notifications in Android L. The notifications on the lockscreen have a card like UI with multiple notifications from the same app being grouped into one. Users can dismiss a certain notification by simply swiping them to the right.

Android L will also feature Heads Up, which was recently found by the CyanogenMod team in AOSP. The feature works very much like banner notifications in iOS 7 and only pops up when the user is within a full screen app. The user can then either take an action or dismiss the notification and continue doing whatever they were previously.

Lastly, notifications will also be prioritized in Android L, with the important ones grabbing your attention and the constant and minor ones being subdued.


Redesigned Recents, Nav bar and Keyboard

Google has given the Recents UI in Android L a pretty major design and functionality revamp. The new UI stacks the card of all the opens apps together and shows individual cards for each new instance of an app. For example, all the tabs open in Chrome would show up as an individual card in Android L. The method to remove an app from memory remains the same though with a swipe to the right.

The navigation bar icons have also been re-designed giving them a modern and flatter look. Even though Google did not announce it, the company will also be giving the Google Keyboard a visual revamp in Android L.


ART and 64-Bit Compatibility

Google introduced ART as an experimental runtime in KitKat and after working on it over the last seven months, the company is finally ready to make it the default runtime in Android L. All the feedback from developers and users alike have greatly helped Google in improving ART’s performance further. According to Google, the shift to ART will automatically bring about a 2x performance improvement in certain scenarios without the developers doing anything on their part.

Android L will also be compatible with ARM’s 64-bit chips and include a new garbage collector that reduces the collection time in half, which should also help in greatly improving the overall system and app performance.


Project Volta

Google has finally decided to fix the poor battery life of Android devices in Android L with Project Volta using under-the-hood software optimizations and Battery Historian. The latter is a tool that allows users to see how the battery is being used by various apps, sensors and processes.

If an app goes berserk due to poor coding on developer’s part and holds a wakelock, Battery Historian will automatically release it after sometime to make sure that the battery life of your Android device is not affected. It is also a great tool for developers to make use of the new scheduling API to schedule important stuff without affecting battery life.


Power Saving mode

Apart from Project Volta, Google has also introduced a new Power Saving mode in Android L to help users extract maximum juice from their devices. Under this mode, Google reduces the processor and GPU speeds, reduces the display’s refresh rate and turns off mobile data to increase battery life.

The feature can be automatically enabled when the device battery drops below 20% or any other user specified threshold.

Factory Reset Protection

As confirmed by Google earlier, Android L will include a “kill switch” that would prevent thieves from activating a stolen Android phone after they do a hard reset on it. Apple introduced a similar feature with iOS 7, which led to the iPhone theft rates dropping considerably in the United States.

Personal Unlocking

Taking a leaf out of Motorola’s book, Google is introducing trusted Bluetooth devices in Android L. Using Personal Unlocking, users can specify their trusted devices, around which their handset will unlock without prompting the user to enter their pattern or PIN password.

However, if they are not in the vicinity of the trusted devices, unlocking the device will prompt them to enter their password.

Apart from all the features mentioned above, Android L also contains more than 5000 new APIs and many new features that Google did not bother to announce. We will be covering them over the coming few days so make sure to check back the site regularly.

What do you think about Android L? Do you think it is better than iOS 8? Drop in a comment and do let us know!