Android L Is Lollipop And New Nexus Devices
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Thursday, 16 October 2014

Google has finally officially launched Android 5 as Lollipop along with a bunch of new Nexus devices. So what does our new Android world look like?

 

The new Android 5 aka Lollipop SDK will be available for download on October 17th. 

 

lollipopicon

 

Devices ready to run it will be available for pre-order on the same date but when they will actually be shipped isn't clear. It also seems that existing Nexus devices - including the 2012 Nexus 7 will be getting Lollipop as an over the air up-date, but when isn't clear. 

The key feature of Lollipop seems to be the range of devices that it supports. The launch site emphasises that Lollipop is the OS for Phones, Tablets, Wear, TV and Auto. 

The new slogan is 

"be together. not the same"

which to my mind is slightly demented and not a patch on "think different". Google has also dug up the old Androidify app to allow people to customize their Androids by creating a custom Android icon - not sure why.

 lollipopall

 

Of course, of these categories, Phones and Tablet are by far the biggest targets for the average Android developer with Wear, TV and Auto still having to prove themselves as viable markets. It is very noticeable that Google Glass isn't represented among the devices and it wasn't particularly in evidence at this year's Google I/O. Could it be that Google isn't really interested in it any more? 

The idea that Android works on a range of device sizes is great, but in practice it is the programmer who has to take the strain. You can create apps for Tablets and Phones, but only if you take the trouble to code the UI as a set of Fragments and arrange for them to work correctly on each device. When it comes to the other form factors, you have to create completely different Views for each one. This really isn't unity.

What Google has done is to provide the tools and frameworks to enable you to work with a crazy number of screen sizes and orientations within a single project.

The key to getting Android running on everything isn't so much Lollipop as Android Studio, which slowly inches its way to a version 1 release. 

What can you say about Lollipop that hasn't been said about the L preview?

Nothing at all is the truth.

What it brings to the user is the new Material Design style that at least makes Lollipop look different so that the user can go "ah - a new OS". There are lots of nice new features such as better control of notifications, better battery management, improved security, low power Bluetooth and so on. The ability to hand off a connection on say cellular to WiFi as it becomes available is also good if a bit overdue. Google also digs a little deeper into the Android fabric by offering to allow users to log into other phones and make use of their personal settings. 

From the programmer's point of view the biggest change is the switch from Dalvik to the ART runtime and the promise of 64-bit devices. There are lots of small improvements to existing APIs that are great, but not revolutionary. 

The new Nexus devices are interesting, however.

The Nexus 9 is a big, 8.9 inch 2048x1536, tablet with a 64-bit NVIDIA Tegra running at 2.3GHz.

The Nexus 6 is a big (2560x1440) phone with a 32-bit quad core ARM processor.

These are going to be the reference platforms for Lollipop but notice the earlier comment about Lollipop coming to the existing Nexus range. 

 

lollipopnexus

 

Player is a bit of a shock. It is Google's latest attempt at getting into the living room - we will forget the Nexus Q that sank without trace. The Player seems to be an Android box that has some of the abilities of the more successful Chromecast. You can cast content to if from any Android device or you can run apps on it directly. It comes with a remote and an optional gamepad and features voice activation. 

" It's also a first-of-its-kind Android gaming device. With Nexus Player you can play Android games on your HDTV with a gamepad, then keep playing on your phone while you're on the road. Nexus Player is Google Cast Ready so you can cast your favorite entertainment from almost any Chromebook or Android or iOS phone or tablet to your TV."

One particularly interesting specification is that it uses a quad-core Intel Atom.

Yes this is an Intel Android.

We will have to wait and see if this is sucessful enough to be interesting as a development target. Perhaps it does explain some of the rather slow improvements in Chromecast, however. It also once again raises the idea of an Android games console - could this be a winner?

lollipopicon

More Information

Nexus

Android: Be together. Not the same.

Android L Preview

Related Articles

 Android L 64bit Emulator Available 

New Android L Goes Flat

Android Adventures - Getting Started With Android Studio

 

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 October 2014 )