Waiting for an Android update to hit your mobile device is similar to going to the doctor’s office: You know your name is going to be called, you just don’t know when. And unless you take it upon yourself to root and sideload your device, you’re going to have to wait until it’s your turn. Fortunately, many Android users (including myself) have received the 5.0 update and are ready to report on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Here we go.
Material Design is Pretty
Material Design is a strong departure of what Android has looked and felt like in previous versions. It’s overtly colorful, highly responsive, and easier to navigate. But perhaps the best part about it is that Google apps now look the same across every device. This means you’ll get the same intuitive experience on your phone, tablet, laptop, and even desktop PC.
Notifications are Easier to Manage
Notifications are now completely accessible from the lock screen without having to open an app. You can view and respond to any message without unlocking your device and customize the settings to hide sensitive content. You can also set the times you want to be interrupted so you’re not constantly being bombarded with texts or emails while you’re trying to get work done.
Battery Life is Improved
A new battery saver feature has been introduced that claims to extend device use by up to 90 minutes. As an added bonus, you can also see how much time is left to complete a full charge or how much time you have until you need to charge again. The initial release of Lollipop was delayed about a week to get this feature just right, and it appears like it will be one of the best reasons to upgrade.
Security is Increased
Android went above and beyond the call of duty to keep your stuff safe and secure with Lollipop. Not only is every device automatically encrypted, but a new Smart Lock feature also protects you when connecting to wearable devices. SELinux is also included which means vulnerabilities and malware will be a thing of the past. All these added safety measures can help you rest assured in case your phone is lost or stolen.
An all new Android runtime (ART) is introduced in version 5.0 and it’s fast, smooth, and powerful. ART increases performance by up to four times while offering a smoother UI for visual applications. And because background apps and services are also compressed even further, you’re allowed to do a lot more at once. Multitasking has never been this smooth on Android.
It Takes Some Getting Used To
Because this is such a huge change from previous versions of Android, there is definitely a learning curve. Everything looks and feels different — including the soft keys — and not everyone will enjoy the new Material Design. There are also many new features that you may or not want and turning them off will take some effort. However, anyone familiar with Android should be able to get the hang of Lollipop rather quickly.
The App Switcher is Not the Best Way to Close Apps
The App Switcher has been completely redesigned to resemble Google Now and is supposed to make multitasking a lot easier. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. Many users are reporting that recently closed apps are still appearing in the app list with a random app card showing up from time to time. This is a major bug that will probably be fixed in the first update but it’s a shame that so many people have to deal with it in the meantime.
Connecting to Wi-Fi Isn’t Always Easy
Nexus users were among the first to receive the Lollipop update and are also among the first to complain about a nasty bug plaguing their devices. Apparently, connecting to Wi-Fi is causing the battery to drain at an alarming rate due to continuous screen wake-ups. While Android is claiming to have resolved this issue, you may have to wait for an update to get rid of it.
The Flashlight Toggle Can Make the Camera Unusable
The addition of a flashlight shortcut to the quick settings toggle was a welcome addition to Lollipop. Not so welcome is a bug that renders the camera useless. According to several reports, allowing the flashlight app to turn off by itself will brick the camera app. The only solution? Reboot your device! Obviously, nobody wants to do this every time they need to take a picture and it’s probably the most annoying bug being reported.
Silent Mode is No More
Much to the dismay of Android users everywhere, Google decided to eliminate silent mode in Lollipop. And although there are several complicated workarounds that involve rebooting your device or fiddling with settings, the exclusion of such a common feature is perplexing. Further adding to the confusion is Google’s lack of any sort of explanation.
The Ugly Will (Eventually) Be Good
If you’re experiencing any of the bugs listed above, all you can do is wait — but it’s worth it.
The best part about Lollipop (or any version of Android) is that you can make it whatever you want it to be. You can add or remove any feature you want, replace icons and widgets, or even install an entirely different operating system. But I have a feeling many people will choose to stick with Lollipop after spending a few moments with it.
Despite all its flaws, Android 5.0 Lollipop is the best version of Google’s operating system for one reason: It will change the way we use our mobile devices. This update is a lot more than just new icons and wallpapers; it’s about Google’s vision of how we should interact with the Internet — whether it be on our phones, tablets, or computers.
Lollipop feels a lot more immersive, fluid, and fun than ever before. And just like Apple reimagined iOS with transparency, Google’s Material Design will redefine what Android is. The fact that we can get the same experience across every device only makes the experience that much better. And as our digital life starts spreading into new arenas like watches, glasses, and other wearables, Lollipop will set the standard as to how we use them and what they look like.
You’ll just have to wait for that elusive “Update Now” button to land on your screen.
What do you think? Is Lollipop the best version of Android? What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it? Let us know in the comments below!