Tuesday, 18 November 2014

First impressions of Android 5: Tasting the Lollipop

First impressions of Android 5: Tasting the Lollipop

The much touted android update to android 5 nicknamed Lollipop finally arrived on my Nexus 5 and I thought this is a good time to give you my initial impressions.  I don’t intend to use this space as another long list to explore the differences between KitKat and Lollipop as this has been done by others really well (eg http://fieldguide.gizmodo.com/16-things-you-can-do-in-android-lollipop-that-you-could-1659628014).  Instead this is my initial impression of using it and is there any difference that matter.

Lollipop has a number of new features and uses on the ART rather than Dalvik which its predecessors use (see https://source.android.com/devices/tech/dalvik/).  This supposedly makes the phone run faster.  I have used ART on both a Nexus 4 and 5 for a while now and think it does add to performance in a noticeable way by loading apps faster and switching between them rapidly. 

The appearance

The appearance of Lollipop is better, the much touted material design (https://developer.android.com/design/material/index.html) makes the overall look much better with a better shadowing and animation. The redesigned Google apps such as Gmail, Google Plus, Play Music, Maps, Photos, Hangouts, Play Store, Youtube and Keep have all received the new design updates.















Flappy Android


As a bonus which all android owners have, Google adds a hidden game which is specific to the operating system.  The Lollipop game is a variation on Flappy Birds which is slightly harder than the original but will occupy any child for ages.  To get to the game simply to go settings > about phone > Android version and repeatedly click on the Android Version. You then get a picture which you have to click repeatedly again, although I find just leaving your finger on it works best and is less stressful and after a bit the hidden game is opened.

Battery life

The key to the new update was that users would find astonishing battery savings as a result of project Volta (http://www.geeksquad.co.uk/articles/what-is-project-volta). This means that Lollipop also give you a new battery display in the settings with approximate time left.   

Sadly, from the limited experience I have had of Lollipop this is where things are seriously let down.  I was getting between 1 ½- 2 days out of my Nexus 5 with all my apps running and using the phone for most things during the day.  I would class my usage as reasonably heavy. 

Since the update the battery stats are alarmingly poor and it appears like the phone is draining fully within 16 hours with no usage making the phone useless for taking with me when 24 hours phone life is required.   

To be honest this might not be the case as I have not had the phone updated long enough to give a true picture, but I am noticing the battery draining very fast whilst on standby.  This could be app related and I will investigate this, but nothing is immediately obvious.







One reason why the phone could be draining so fast is the new notification system that adds notifications to the lock screen, which is something Apple did from the beginning. This feature is configurable and useful.  

I suspect this is also the source of the power loss as this means all the apps are constantly in the memory of your device.   

The notifications can be customised so you only get priority alerts or receive none at all, which could be the best power saving of all.




The Lollipop display has some great features which include a redesigned notification tab which allows you to reconfigure essential elements of the device such as wireless, Bluetooth, flashlight, and other important features which is a really good feature. 

The actual settings look has been redesigned and now seems a lot better to look at as well as having a few more functions.


Overall opinion

Is Lollipop really as sweet as it sounds? 

Well, yes and no. 

I love the new design, it does seem quick, and I love the notifications and new customisations but I defy anyone to be able to work with a phone that cannot last 24 hours.   

Hopefully, this might settle down in due course and the battery life will get better but if it does not then this could be a serious issue for Google to address.

Update (Nov 2014)

Having used used Lollipop for a while the battery issue is not as bad as first though and will provide a full day. I also like most of the new features and find the phone better and more responsive than it was under KitKat. Thumbs up Google for the update.

One proviso: some apps might not be compatible, so check your favourite apps on the Play Store before upgrading to ensure that they are compatible.