Product Overviews

The Best and Worst Features of Android 5.0 Lollipop

By November 19, 2014 10 Comments
Android 5.0 Lollipop is pretty sweet!

Android 5.0 Lollipop is pretty sweet!

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.

The Good

Lollipops brings a whole different look and plenty of new features.

Lollipops brings a whole different look and plenty of new features.

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.

More Power

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.

The Bad

You should probably read the following before you update.

You should probably read the following before you update.

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

Android now looks and feels the same across every device.

Android now looks and feels the same across every device.

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!

Ivan Barajas

Author Ivan Barajas

More posts by Ivan Barajas

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • B17 says:

    Its not just ugly, its a UX and design failure. It’s easy to say that Lollipop was designed by failed Windows ME designers and drunken toddlers, but let’s look at some of the Design Fails that make this the worst update ever forced on to Android users.

    The Home touch buttons at the bottom of my LG G3 used to have a nice shadow overlay in the lower half of them, visually indicating that these were separate. And these are key features, and should be shown differently from the App icons. That color separation is gone now from the home screen, mudding the User experience.

    And what of the icons themselves. For twenty years a little picture shaped like a home with a pointed roof, indicated home. We all knew what is meant. And now its a CIRCLE!!! What the heck does circle mean …. Off perhaps, but certainly not home. And then theres the icon for the App Switcher…. seriously a Square. Yep, whenever I think about switching Apps, a square, with slightly rounded corners is the best metaphor for switching app. Good job Lollipop Designers. You are geniuses. And them there’s the Back button. Sure, i missed the old Asteroids spaceship from 1979 too, but how does a Triangle pointing to the North East say “Back”

    The only way I know what any of these icons do is because I know them by their position. The new Lollipop icons are basically childish and unintuitive. They provide no real visual queues to the user as to their function. They are another Design Fail.

    And then there’s the lousy notification screen. Now they are randomly further away from each other. Great use of space. And what genius decided to make them random dull colors. Some are black, some are white, and others are grey. And there appears to be no rhyme or reason to this color “scheme”. And then there’s the “design” choice to allow the desktop to glimmer through between some of the notifications, which for my older eyes makes them harder to read. So thanks again Lollipop crew.

    And talking of Notifications, there they are on the lock screen for all to see. Whats the point of a lock screen. Its to lock the phone, so others don’t see potentially sensitive information. There’s a rumor that some Lollipop implementations have an option to not display sensitive notifications, but LG/AT&T decided my phone was not getting that option.

    And finally there’s the App Switcher window itself. It use to be great. A joy to use. The way you could pinch to zoom to the number of Apps displayed … the easy way you could flick away Apps. It was especially great when using my password app, with Websites or other Apps. In these days when every site/app needs a unique password, it made my part of the responsibility of security a breeze. The new App Switch is horrible; its some ugly rip-off of the tunes coverflow, whereby all but one app is pretty much obscured. Its clunky to go back and forth. You have to flip randomly in each direction in hope of finding the app you need. The feeling of control and ease-of-use is gone. And flicking away apps if cluggy. You have to catch them in exactly the right part of the card. Its not simple, its not useful.

    So whats a gal to do. LG have a lovely Desktop app – the LG PC Suite. It allows you to backup individual apps. Nice. So I can backup some apps and then do a factory reset of the phone? One problem. The LG Desktop Suite does not support Lollipop. And my conversation with an LG phone support rep indicates that they have no plans to do so.

    And these are just the problems I found in the first fifteen minute of using this design nightmare. Overall it seems like design for design sake. A bunch of people sat in cubicles, who just want to get paychecks. The design is unintuitive, and harder to use. Classic Design Failure.

    • Ivan B. says:

      @B17 Thanks for the detailed comment. I must agree…I have a love/hate relationship with Material Design but overall think it’s heading in the right direction. Maybe 6.0 will fix some of these problems.

    • Abhinav Sood says:

      I agree completely. Even if I skip over just how ugly the new design is, it is just not usable. I hate the new notifications that don’t blend in with the UI or with any apps. I used Aviate earlier and the notifications etc just worked so well. Now I can’t use the default UI and other designs like notifications etc just don’t go well with Aviate launcher.

      Exclusion of silent mode is a such a nuisance and I can’t find a way to switch tabs on Chrome anymore.

  • Michael K says:

    This is exactly why I left Apple, when they went to “stick figures” in their operating buttons. I am NOT going to upgrade to Android 5.0

    • Bunny Hunt says:

      you don’t need to force Upgrade if your device is not having the latest Upgrade … Simply follow the trend and download the APK’s of Latest Android Firmware products and install them on your device and you will have all the bootanimation and other stuff making your Phone look like the Latest model
      here is the Link where u can find the latest Apks. TechWhiz

  • balthcat says:

    Material Design is not pretty; it is ugly.

  • Sara Marti says:

    Material design has the worst color scheme. Allow me to set my own colors for things and I’ll be a lot happier. Simply colors shouldn’t bother a person so much but they gosh darn do.
    Like I want dull primary colors shoved in my face. I hate opening my text message app now because the ugly yellow is offensive to me. Seems like the design went from classy and sleek to chunky and primary.
    Yuck.
    Functionality seems decent .. though while writing this comment my keyboard “stopped”. That’s never happened before. Hope that’s not going to be a ongoing problem.

  • Jack says:

    I alway thought android in combination with samsung was too bubbly and goofy with standard settings. I was always thankful of how much you could optimize. I personally like to have it clean, cool, subtle and organized.

    Well, since this (pretty much forced) update, I am sure: Android has become a completely childish, bubbly, goofy experience. The interface looks like it’s made for kids. The ugly colors are burning my eyes and the design is overall just unpleasant to look at. And I am not allowed to change anything of this.

    Furthermore, webbrowsing via Chrome has become tedious due to removal of tab scrolling. And switching between apps/browser is not working well either. Chrome would then find it necessary to reload the webpage. Also, scrolling on a webpage seems to lag sometimes.

    The upside: Typing has improved. Some small functions are welcome. But it just doesn’t make up for this hideous design.

    Seriously considering another OS, maybe even Apple.

  • Rod says:

    Just got forced into this lollipop upgrade and your ‘ugly’ failed to mention the entire interface. Looking at lollipop (and I won’t even go into the name) I’m convinced that Google employees are prohibited from wearing tattoos. I guarantee that not a single biker was on the design staff for this interface otherwise, we’d have something that looked a LOT better. I’m ready to turn my Note 4 into a sidewalk brick.

  • Linda says:

    Gee !!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was, and I mean was ready to go to AT&T to get the Samsung S5 phone; but after seeing sooooooooooooooo many negative and horrible blogs about the lollipop upgrade, I have changed my mind. I have not seen ANY positive reviews about the new upgrade. Is there anyone that LIKES the lollipop upgrade. If so, please reply.

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