Android 5.0 Lollipop breaks cover: Here’s the deal with Google’s latest OS

By April Taylor , Oct 16, 2014 11:11 AM EDT

Android 5.0 Lollipop is officially out of the box, launching as the last major version of Google's popular mobile operating system.

This "sweet new take on Android" was first previewed back in June, and now it's finally ready for prime time, with the new Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player serving as its launch vehicles. Android 5.0 Lollipop will roll out to the Nexus lineup of devices first and will eventually hit a slew of Android devices out there, so here's what's in store.

First of all, the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop comes as the most major update to the OS ever since Ice Cream Sandwich. Google had already introduced most of the changes with the Android L preview that hit the Nexus 5 and the 2013 Nexus 7, but the retail release still has some surprises.

UI Changes & Visual Enhancements

The visual changes are the most obvious improvements of Android 5.0 Lollipop, delivering a number of considerable refinements to the user interface (UI). It doesn't mark a radical redesign, but it adds many small changes that improve the experience overall.

The revamped navigation bar, for instance, now sports a more abstract icon set, while the status bar now boasts refreshed status icons and can be colored or transparent, depending on app.

The lock screen, meanwhile, now displays more comprehensive notifications, not just icons. Such notifications include details about the message, and also come with a new heads-up mode reminiscent of CyanogenMod and other custom ROMs.

Google has also improved multitasking with its new Android 5.0 Lollipop, now focusing on documents rather than apps. Users will now be able to enjoy more than one card for each app, and the activity cards are now in 3D, complete with a smooth animation. Moreover, the quick settings received some new features as well, such as adaptive auto-brightness and a Do Not Disturb mode.

Material Design

Google's new Material Design comes as the new design language for applications and the web, focusing on bold and bright colors, clean typography, and neat animations. Google has already demoed its new Material Design, and it will most likely update its major applications soon to highlight the new guidelines.

New Features

Android 5.0 Lollipop also comes with a slew of small features and changes under the hood, all aiming to improve the user experience and offer more options for app developers. Highlights include the aforementioned Do Not Disturb Mode, RAW image support, keyboard selection icon in the navigation bar, better accessibility features, smarter battery consumption and better charging estimates, among others.

Android 5.0 Lollipop Update Availability

Google's latest Android 5.0 Lollipop will come pre-loaded on the newly-unveiled Nexus 6 smartphone, Nexus 9 tablet, and the Nexus Player set-top box, but it will also roll out to other devices. As expected, the Nexus 5, 7, and 10 will be the first in line, followed by Google Play Edition (GPE) devices. Google offered no exact timeframe for when it will start rolling out the update, but said that it will occur in the "weeks to come."

For more details regarding the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop, head over to the official page on Google's website at this link.

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