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Android 5.0 Lollipop: 15 exciting new features

Since Google unveiled the first beta version of Android Lollipop at their June 2014 I/O conference For their Nexus Devices, it picked up the sweet spot among the developers. Then codenamed as Android L, the Lollipop 5.0 edition of the Android operating system has acquired a lot of attention among the users.

It feels like Google has worked a lot on this edition and added tons of innovative features which is why Android fans are eager to have their hands on this operating system. But what are those features? Why is Google claiming that Lollipop is a major step up from its last edition. But are these changes going to make our lives easier? Is Lollipop far advanced than KitKat? We check out some of the prominent changes that have been brought about in the latest update.

1. Notification panel

This is perhaps the biggest area of change in Android Lollipop. Notifications have undergone a complete overhaul, and now look a lot like Google Now's card-based system. Notifications are displayed directly on the lock screen, and tapping a card allows you to unlock the device and jump straight to that area. You can even expand cards to see more details, such as a list of emails, with the phone still in its locked state (If you don't like the idea of people being able to snoop on your personal messages then you can enable a feature which locks away the detailed info).

Needless to say, the notification panel has been made too simple for the user. It’s simplicity in design is the plus point. Unlike KitKat, the most useful feature added here is the ability to view your detailed notifications on your lock screen. Though this might be a problem around work spaces if you leave your phone unattended, anyone can have a look at your notifications even though your phone is locked.

It can be disabled by going to 

Settings –> Sound and Notification –> When device is Locked –> Don’t show notifications at all.

2. Soft key redesign

Soft key buttons receive a change in this update and it is a rather, a surprising change. The icons are smaller and look compact. A very simple yet pleasant design.

kitkat                                                                                                        lollipop

3. Multitasking 

The word "multitasking" can mean a lot of things, but let's define it broadly as moving more efficiently between tasks on a computer. This is easy enough on desktop machines, which can lean on keyboard shortcuts, trackpad gestures, and screens large enough for taskbars and windowing. But none of those ideas translate well to phones and tablets, so software companies have been on a Holy Grail-like hunt for decent mobile multitasking since the launch of the original iPhone.

The obvious path is to take the side-by-side window concept of desktop computers and adapt it to phones and tablets. That's exactly what Microsoft has tried to do with Windows 8, and what Samsung has attempted with its Android devices. In both cases, you can drag a second (or third, or fourth) app onto the screen, splitting it up into two smaller windows for each app.

Multitasking has completely changed in Android Lollipop. The feature allows you to scroll through your notifications in a simpler manner. It is easier and allows you to see more details even before you enter the app.

4. Guest user

We all have people around us who lay their hands on our phones. Thankfully, Android Lollipop helps us with this issue. Just like different Users in Windows, Lollipop gives you the liberty to add guest users or even create a profile for a friend/relative. This way, you can limit the amount of information that others can view. You can add a guest by simply going to Settings – Users – Add Guest.

5. Battery 

Android Lollipop brings with it Project Volta, Google's attempt at giving developers more visibility on what aspects of their apps are draining the most juice. While it's early days here, the majority of the apps we tested had not been configured to make use of Volta, it's a solid move by the Big G, as it gives you a more accurate indication of how long your phone is going to last and what apps are sucking up most power

To help improve battery life, battery saver reduces your device's performance and limits vibration and most background data. Email, messaging and other apps that rely on syncing may not update unless you open them.

Another nice touch is that when you're charging your phone, you're told how long it will take for the battery to be fully topped up. While we've perhaps not spent enough time with Android Lollipop to get a complete picture, it did seem to give our Nexus 5 more stamina than KitKat. 

6. Inbuilt Flashlight

It would always be puzzling as to why Google did not pin a flashlight in our notifications panel just like iOS has in its control center. Lollipop brings out that change. Without installing any third-party apps, users can simply use the flashlight by pulling down the notification panel. Make sure your smartphone has an LED flash.

7. Quick access to Chrome cast   

No need to install any third-party apps once you have the updated your phone to Lollipop. There is an official app now from Google to solve our problems. For the people who love to stream media from dongles, it is as simple as going to the notification panel and taping on Cast Screen.

8. Change screen colours to suit colour blindness

If you are among the 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women who have a form of colorblindness then this feature should be really useful. It can correct the use of colour to help people with each of the three types of colorblindness known as deuteranopia, protanopia and tritanopia. 

To make the setting you need go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Colour correction.

9. Tap and pay

Once you choose to set up tap-and-pay, you'll be directed to authorize Google Wallet in the tap-and-pay section of the Settings app, with a helpful link to take you straight there. Upon doing this, we can return to Google Wallet and set up the card you'll be using with tap-and-pay. While you can use a bank account to transfer money, you must tie a credit or debit card to Google Wallet for tap and pay, not merely a bank account. Be sure your NFC is ON.

10. Trusted Places

Trusted Places is a smart feature which has been added in to Lollipop. Though most of our phones have passwords, it would be a task to disable it when we enter familiar premises such as our car or home. Trusted Places is a feature where a user can declare certain locations as safe and they wouldn't need to unlock their phones once they enter those spaces. 

You can set the location by heading to Settings – Security – Smart Lock.

11. Prioritize apps

It can be super annoying if your phone is filled with umpteen apps and throughout the day, you are bombarded with notifications. Lollipop gives you the liberty to prioritize your apps so that you can receive notifications from the ones you want. It works out perfectly during sleep hours as you can only receive notifications from important apps and not games or check-in notifications.
To get started, press your device's volume up or volume down key while the display is on and then tap "Priority" in the panel that appears at the top of the screen. Select either to leave that mode on indefinitely (the default) or to specify a finite amount of time -- an hour, two hours, whatever -- for which it'll remain active.

12. Do not disturb

We all know that the volume rocker can be used to silence your Android device as well as send it into vibrate mode. Lollipop adds a new selection when you hit the volume rocker – priority mode. This mode gives you granular control over what notifications can get through. You can jump into it from the volume rocker as well as setting it up to kick in automatically at certain times of the day. 
To make priority mode settings to go Settings > Sound & notification > Interruptions.

13. Searching in settings

Even a seasoned Android user can forget where the setting you want to tweak is hiding, and there’s nothing more annoying than having to run through screens and screens of stuff you don’t want in order to find the thing you need. Thankfully you can now search the settings app. Go into Settings then hit the search icon top right of the screen and tap what you want to find.

14. Flappy Bird Easter Egg

If Flappy Bird wasn't frustrating, Lollipop offers you a modified version of the game. Instead, here you have an Easter egg to unlock. 

Users can go to Settings – About phone and click several times and you will get the android robot in place of the bird.

15. Ok Google

Several of the enhancements on Lollipop were inspired by Motorola. The first is the ability to say "Ok Google" even if your phone is in standby mode. Your phone will wake and then you can use voice to search, send texts, and more. It requires compatible hardware, though, and so far we only know for sure that the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 support it.