Android Lollipop is coming.
The latest version of Google’s mobile OS, trailed in the summer under the codename Android L, is aiming to seize back the initiative from Apple’s recently released iOS 8, as well as give Google’s partners pause before they slather it with their own, specially tweaked custom skins.
So, what are its key features?
Which phones are getting it first? And how long before you can have a play with the final build? Read our guide to everything you need to know about Android Lollipop and you’ll be clued in in no time.
1 Nexus and Motorola phones first, HTC, Samsung and Sony to follow
The most pressing concern with new Android software is just when the vast gamut of devices using the OS will get in on the action.
Google’s Nexus products, including the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and new Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 will be first up alongside Google’s new Android One phones, with updates expected in mid–November.
Motorola will then be hot on its heels, with updates for both generations of its Moto X and Moto G phones and the Moto E.
Sony has said ‘the entire Xperia Z range’ will be getting Android Lollipop, with the Z3 and Z2 first in line early next year.
HTC has promised an update to its flagship One M8 within 90 days of getting final code from Google.
Samsung, however, is being more coy, only hinting that its flagship phones will be feeling the love ‘soon’. That doesn’t bode well for Sammy users.
2 Material Design
Android Lollipop’s biggest feature is its overall new look. Dubbed Material Design, it brings a flatter, more uniform look to all Google apps.
The Big G reckons it is more intuitive, as seen in the Phone app, which looks far less clunky than the current iteration found in Android KitKat.
Icons have been redesigned and developers have been given the tools to make their apps look more uniform on the OS.
In theory, this should make Android a lot cleaner and easier to use.
3 Redesigned email
Gmail has been given a much–needed tweak in Android Lollipop, the tablet edition aping Apple’s iPad Mail app to offer a side–by–side view of all of your messages next to the one you’ve just opened.
Google reckons this new look will be more uniform across devices, from Android Wear watches, through smartphones and on to its tablets.
Gmail remains a hugely powerful tool, but this new app should at least make it much easier to use.
4 Battery boost
A big issue with many Android phones is battery drain.
The two year old Nexus 4 is a disaster when it comes to trying to eke out power, so Lollipop‘s promise of a new battery saver tool which can extend charge by up to 90 minutes is most welcome.
There’s a timer for seeing how long you have left before you need to find power, which will also tell you how long until your battery’s full when you’ve got it plugged into the mains.
5 Improved security
Security has been boosted in Android Lollipop, with the inclusion of a so–called ‘kill switch’.
‘Factory reset protection’ requires users to enter their Google ID and password, plus their device’s passcode, preventing thieves from wiping a handset.
This is opt–in, however.
Further security features include multiple user accounts so you can protect apps and services from other users in your family and Smart Lock, which lets you pair your phone or tablet with another Android device or Bluetooth product allowing automatic unlocking when the two are connected.