We all knew it was coming, and now it’s finally here. Android “L” was officially unveiled earlier today during the first half of the Google I/O 2014 opening keynote. As expected, L packs quite a long list of both user-facing and developer-centric features.
In a surprise turn of events, Google has decided to make the developer preview images of Android “L” available for the Nexus 5 and 7 tomorrow morning. Join us as we take a closer look at what makes L important.
Perhaps the most immediately noticeable user-facing change in Android L comes courtesy of Material Design. Previously known as “Quantum Paper,” this new UI paradigm redefines how you will interact with your device.
As we mentioned earlier, Material Design brings a fresh, new look that is inspired by paper and ink. This new UI also features a new elevation value to give a unique perspective to an app’s different components, and the overall look is able to reform dynamically with surfaces that respond to motion and touch with splashes of animated feedback.
Notifications were also given a healthy boost . In Android L, lock screen notifications can now be interactive. They are also now ordered based on your usage habits and what matters most to you. And if you happen to be in a full-screen app, heads-up notifications (which we’ve already seen thanks to Xposed) are also available.
Building on Material Design and Notifications, Android’s core UI has also been upgraded through changes to the recent apps menu. Thanks to a new API, applications are now able to populate multiple pages in your recent apps menu.
With Recents, individual Chrome browser tabs to live alongside native Android applications. So now, you can manage and switch between your Chrome browser tabs just as you would manage and switch between applications, seamlessly.
As we first noticed thanks to recent changes to the AOSP master branch a few weeks ago, Dalvik is out and ART is in. This was officially confirmed during the keynote, and L will run exclusively on ART compiler, which according to Google provides on average a 2x performance improvement over Dalvik, fewer Garbage Collect pauses, less RAM usage, and readiness for 64-bit computing.
In addition to CPU performance increases, GPU features have been increased. With Android Extension Pack, game developers are able to make use of features like tessellation, advanced lighting and more–bringing Android’s graphics capabilities to near feature parity with DirectX 11.
What good is an improved UI and speedier performance if your phone is out of battery, right? Luckily Google is also approaching the battery life issue with Project Volta.
While not much is known about Volta at this time, we do know that Android will offer a very robust Battery Historian UI (seen in the screenshot on your left), which will allow you to see what is responsible for your battery woes in great detail. In addition, Volta also offers a new Power Saving mode, which reduces device performance in favor of better battery life. This mode can be automatically enabled and disabled depending on battery level and charging status. Finally, Volta also brings a new JobScheduler API that allows your app to be more battery efficient for non-critical tasks.
Last and certainly not least, Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013) users will get to enjoy the Developer Preview version of Android L tomorrow, June 26. . The images will be posted for download on the Android Developer Site.
Did L bring everything you were hoping for? What is your favorite Android L feature? Is there anything they forgot to add in that you were hoping for? Let us know in the comments below!_________
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