Article Hands on with Android L (Developer Preview)

Discussion in 'Gadgets and Consumer Electronics' started by Sunit JC, Jun 30, 2014.

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  1. Sunit JC

    Sunit JC ActiveRAIDer

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    Android L is the upcoming major update to Google's Android Operating System. Unveiled on June 25th during a keynote presentation at Google's I/O developers' conference, this new version of Android will be released by late 2014. However changing gears this year Google has released a Developer Preview for its select Nexus devices to showcase the features and enable app development much before its full release.

    The new version brings a lot of new features on the table. Google has made the the developer's preview of Android L for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013) immediately available for the developers to test the new version and update their apps before the final version is released.

    So armed with the Developer Preview on my Nexus 5, here is a quick run down of what to expect with Android L.

    about phone.jpg

    As soon as the device starts up you see the first change. The boot animation is different in the new Android version. I really liked the new animation.

    Android L Boot Animation.gif
    After the boot completes we get to the familiar new lock screen but this one comes with a bunch of changes of its own. The Clock and Date widgets are at the center of the screen and the unlock ring is gone. A new lock icon is added and unlocking is done by simply swiping upwards. Other types of locking (pattern, password etc) work the same way. You need to swipe upwards for the Pattern/Password Screen appears. The Camera shortcut is present in here as well, you can directly access the camera from the lock screen by swiping to the left. Along with it comes the Dialer shortcut too which you can directly access by swiping to the right. Another addition to the new lock screen is that you get the notifications notification displayed right at the center and you can interact with them just by double clicking the notification to go directly to the app.

    notif screen.jpg
    The user interface of Android L is completely redesigned which they call the "Material Design". Material Design is comprehensive rethinking of UI & UX for better visuals, interactions & intuitiveness. This is Android biggest change since the the coming of Holo Design with Android 4.0. Material Design introduces brand new elements to the Android UI design including custom shadows, stack-able screens components , dynamic color palettes & responsive animation all of which will run at 60 fps. Powering Material Design is the overhauled and optimized ART which will be replacing Dalvik Virtual Machine from now on. We got to try out ART as an optional feature in the Android 4.4 release. ART promises to have better App performance, Garbage Collection, Smoother UI and and enhanced battery life.

    ARTruntime.png
    The home screen has just one change. The new software keys which seem inspired by Sony Playstation. There is a triangle for the back, a circle for the home and square for the multitasking.

    home.jpg
    The new "material design" can be seen in a lot of things. For example the calculator, the new Dialer and the Contacts menu. The Dialer button stays on the top even when you're scrolling through the contacts. Everything is redesigned. Even the in-call UI. But a lot of Google apps still don't have the material look as yet but updates are set to follow soon.

    calci.png dialler.jpg Screenshot_2014-06-30-22-22-17.png
    The notification drawer is completely changed. Single swipe down will bring down the notifications and another swipe will bring down the quick toggle buttons. Quick brightness adjustment is also provided in the notification drawer. The status bar consists of the usual icons which are not changed. The only change here is that the status bar consists of your profile picture in an unimposing circle now which is at the corner. Looks much cooler!

    drawer.jpg drawer 2.png
    A lot of attention is given to notifications in Android L. Right from the notifications popping on the lock screen to the new "Heads Up Notification" on the top of the screen allowing you to Accept or Decline an incoming call without having to leave your current app/screen. This notification pops up even if you have an app open and is prioritized as per importance.

    call.png
    The multitasking or the switch apps screen is different & beautiful here as well. It now looks like a 3D deck of cards. It looks polished but personally I liked the previous one better. It was easier to switch between apps and looked minimalistic. Another enhancement that Google has introduced is that now each Google Chrome tab now appears as an independent card giving them the same importance as a native app.

    multitask.jpg
    As soon as we enter the settings page we see Google's new "Material Design". The menu is totally revamped. It now has a search bar which allows you to search your desired setting menu directly. The display menu has a new "adaptive brightness" which adjusts brightness according to the surrounding light. The Sound menu has a new "Do not Disturb" setting which allows you to block all interruptions. It has a timer too so that you can customize the time period.

    settings.jpg Screenshot_2014-06-30-21-55-01.png Screenshot_2014-06-30-21-50-20.png
    Android L aims at improving and optimizing battery life with its new "Project Volta". The battery saver mode is a new addition in Android L which gets activated once the device reaches 15% battery. The CPU gets under clocked and the brightness gets lowered along with the refresh rate. The Battery menu is changed too. It looks different and is definitely better this time giving you a more indepth look at whats been exhausting your battery the most.

    battery.jpg
    Another change we can see is the keyboard. The UI is completely different and Google has decided to go the IOS and Windows minimalistic way. The shadows and textures are missing and the new keyboard just has letters and numbers on plain background. You can check out this Keyboard right now on the Google PlayStore via an unofficial release here.

    KeyB.png
    Android L is definitely a big improvement over KitKat but not a lot can be said currently. This is just the developers preview and is still work in progress. The developers preview has some stability issues which may prevent you from using it as a daily driver.

    Some issues that I faced were

    • The Settings menu force closed a few times,
    • There are occasional lags while going through the menu.
    • I had a notification problem with the WhatsApp messenger. The app didn't give any notification in the status bar, though restarting the device solved the problem for me.

    One can say that the final version is still some way off for now. Fingers crossed and lets wait for the final release which I hope will be more awesome!

    If you have a Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 (2013) and want to try out the Android L Developers edition download it from here: Setting Up the Preview SDK | Android Developers
    RAID101 takes no responsibility if you brick your device or damage it otherwise. Do it only if you know what you are doing and at your own risk. Also this is not a stable build. It still needs a lot of work. So don't use this as your daily driver.
     

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    JD666: 50 Points (Kick Ass start. Great job!) Jul 1, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
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  2. Sunit JC

    Sunit JC ActiveRAIDer

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    Android L's name is still unknown. As usual there were easter eggs regarding the name of the new version. These four!

    eastersegg.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  3. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Laddoo..
     
  4. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Lemon pie or lemon cake
     
  5. dbg

    dbg RAID Staff Staff Member

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    Lollypop !
     
  6. Invader

    Invader RAID Rookie

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    its lollipop :straightface:
     
  7. dbg

    dbg RAID Staff Staff Member

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    lol :fp:
     
  8. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    suck it people :D
    --- Double Post Merged, Jul 1, 2014 ---
    or rather lick it ;)
     
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  9. Sunit JC

    Sunit JC ActiveRAIDer

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    LOL.jpg
     
    dbg and JD666 like this.
  10. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    :D made my day
     

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