Google’s I/O conference has just started and the company has already dropped a couple of big bombshell of news including the unveiling and preview of the next version of Android currently codenamed “L”.
Android L was presented at the conference as a Developer Preview that showed a complete overhaul of the Android UI. The last time the Google operating system received this big of a UI overhaul was back in 2011 with the release of Ice Cream Sandwich.
The UI design overhaul of Android is in accordance with Google’s other big announcement called Material Design which is the company’s new design philosophy not only for Android but for all the company’s products and services. The new design, which users can preview with the latest version of the Google+ app for Android, looks flatter and features rounder and softer elements, and a slew of new animations, among other things.
For Android specifically, the new update will feature a new lock screen which incorporates the notification pane so users will now be able to interact with their latest and most important notifications like instantly opening a new message or jumping straight to the notifying app. For the most important notifications, a new drop-down notification feature dubbed “heads-up” is being brought to Android L. “Heads-up” notifications are pop-up interactive notifications that hover above your current task or app. The users will then be able to either interact with the notification just close it.
The new Android update will also feature a plethora of new features and performance upgrades including a smarter lock screen which works with another new feature called Trusted Environments which will let users skip the process of entering pattern or PIN codes whenever they’re in a “Trusted Environment” which could come in many forms including proximity to the user’s Android Wear watch. A new multitasking view is also coming to Android L which features a new stacked card look that will not only display recent apps but also recent website tabs and individual apps will be able to place multiple items into the interface.
According to Google, Android L will also run twice as fast as previous operating systems because of a new runtime called ART which supports ARM, x86, MIPS, is 64-bit compatible, and is more memory efficient. Google is also bringing the Android Extension Pack to Android L which will make the operating system capable of higher quality graphics and great support for high-end chips like Nvidia’s Tegra K1. Lastly, Project Volta is a new feature coming to Android L that will make device batteries more efficient and extend battery life up to an extra 90 minutes.
The Android L Preview Code is now available to developers and the full version of the new operating system is expected to roll out this fall.