During the long Google I/O 2014 keynote event, Google announced many improvements to their products and operating system. Their next version of Android, known as Android L, shows off it’s flexibility, improvements and capabilities when running on future product lines. Future Android products will receive an excellent experience which makes the new Android L a big deal.
Material Design is Google’s way of changing the look and feel of Android – similar to how Apple updated their interface last year. It streamlines the interface onto different screen sizes, makes transitions much smoother, runs at 60fps and menu/touch animations that adds a new experience. The interface is flatter and more symmetrical while the typography and spacing is much even through out. This means apps can run on tablets, smartphones, smart watch and be displayed appropriately; no need for a separate version app like the newly released Facebook Messenger for iPad. Menus, animations and layout just pop out at you which makes it easier on the eyes on different devices.
More importantly, with the different screen sizes, shapes and products coming out, the new Android L is prepared to function on them. Google demonstrated how the interface is more versatile when running on different devices no matter what size or shape the screens are. This enables future products like an Android Smart Watch (Android Wear) to sport different size screens and shapes so that it can be small and sleek.
Speaking of Smart Watch, several Smart Watches were introduced by different OEMS such as Samsung, LG and Motorola, that are part of the Android Wear. Motorola’s “Moto 360” smart watch look the best as it look like your typical fancy watch with the circular design. The Android interface fits just right in the screen with the help of Material Design. You can watch Motorola’s sneak peak of their Moto 360 and how it functions. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live – LG and Samsung’s Android Wear products- are coming out next week with the Play Store already set to have Android Wear apps ready.
Google Chrome also takes advantage of Material Design with user-friendly animation that makes it much better to browse on the mobile device. For example, tabs will lock to the top and shrink as you scroll to enable you to browse better. Just little animations like this goes a long way for your Android experience. The Recent tab is improved too, as users can now see all their Chrome tabs that makes multitasking much quicker instead of the traditional open Chrome then go through all the Chrome tabs from there.
A great addition to this version of Android is Heads-up Notification that allows users to easily continue whatever that is they’re doing. For example, while in an app and a phone call comes in, a small pop up appears rather than a full screen change to the calling screen which allows you to decline or accept a call while continuing to do whatever that is you were doing. Other changes to notifications include the lockscreen where users can pull down a message tab to read their messages while at the same time, the your notifications will be organized based on their importance.
Unlocking your Android device can be simpler and quicker even with a PIN or pattern unlock with trusted environment on Android L. Devices like your Smart Watch that is paired with your Android phone and is within a foot from each other, the phone will recognize the paired device and unlock the phone without having to enter a PIN or pattern. This certainly makes unlocking your phone much quicker without the hassle of having to input your password to unlock your phone or tablet. This feature also integrates a wearable product into the Android ecosystem quite nicely in identifying who you are rather than just another device that is around your wrist. Trusted environment does work with other devices and not only an Android Smart Watch as was demonstrated on stage at the Google I/O 2014 event.
Android L didn’t just add and improve the interface with new features, but also made it possible to work with TV, cars and Smart Watch. Android Auto will allow drivers to connect their Android smartphone onto the car and the console screen will switch to an Android car friendly interface whereby giving you Google Maps, Google Play Music to play all your songs from your smartphone. Various apps supported by Android Auto can function on the Android Auto side of things too. Most of all, everything will be voice enabled so you can search from Google Now and get your destination info etc. This doesn’t completely replace your car console screen but only pops up when your device is hooked up to it, allowing you to drive and use your smartphone for handy purposes. Apple is also getting into the automobile business and soon we could be buying cars based on their mobile OS support.
Android TV offers the home entertainment experience that is powered by Android. Users can use their smartphone to navigate the Android TV interface and use Google search to find the entertainment that they want. The Google Search functionality on the TV works in tandem with your smartphone. Your Android Wear – Smart Watch – can also function as your Android TV remote. Other features include gaming, essentially acting like your gaming console, but maybe in a less powerful way. Games can be played with your mobile device like a tablet or smartphone or a gaming controller. Apps from the Play Store can also work on the TV so users can run apps like Songza through their Android TV. You can see Android TV in action on this demo at Google I/O.
The next iteration of Android, Android L, introduced a whole lot of new features and stylistic improvements. The interface is more interactive and efficient than before. The OS also expands into new product lines such as TV, automobiles and wearables which allows the Android ecosystem to function together rather than a whole separate entity for upcoming products. Every product can work with each other like the smartphone and the car or the smartphone and the TV or watch. Android L has certainly made itself a big deal when it comes to functionality and functionality on various new products.