Update: We've added our findings from our interim Android 5.0 Lollipop review based on the Nexus 9 to this article - check back again in the next few days when we add in phone features and a final score. New release date information for Samsung and Sony devices has also been included.
Android Lollipop is here, and it's brought a raft of new changes. It's got radical new design, 5000 new APIs and it's going beyond the mobile form factor.
Android 5.0 is contextually aware of its surroundings, plus voice is a major input source as the search giant looks towards devices such as Glass and smartwatches.
The experience is seamless across devices - phones, tablets and TVs - so making Android Lollipop devices communicate properly is top of the feature list.
If you've got a sweet tooth for all the information about Android Lollipop, then you've come to the right place. Here's everything you need to know about Google's new mobile platform.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next major upgrade for Android
- When is it out? Now!
- What will it cost? Nothing, it's a free download
Android Lollipop release date
Android 5.0 Lollipop is rolling out now to the like of the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices, with the new Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet rocking the software out of the box.
For the rest of the folk in the world you're at the hands of your phone's manufacturer as Samsung, HTC, Sony and co. fiddle and fine tune Lollipop to their liking.
- Want to know when your device will get Lollipop? Check our constantly updated Android Lollipop update: when can I get it?
HTC has said it's "excited about the new features in Android Lollipop and we can't wait to share them with our customers. We are committed to updating our flagship HTC One family as fast as possible.
"We will begin rolling out updates to the HTC One (M8) and HTC One (M7) in regions worldwide within 90 days of receiving final software from Google, followed shortly thereafter by other One family members and select devices."
It recently confirmed that it had received the final code from Google, so expect Android Lollipop to land in under three months.
There have be an number of reports about Samsung phones too. No official announcements yet but it's rumoured that the Samsung Galaxy S5 could get a sweet treat by the end of 2014, while the Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy Note 4, Note 3 and Samsung Galaxy S4 could all receive an update early next year.
In the case of the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge, Android 5.0 might even be skipped in favour of Android 5.0.1.
Meanwhile Sony is expected to bring Android 5.0 to its core Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z2 range of devices in early 2015. So in other words if you have a recent Sony flagship you shouldn't have to wait long for Lollipop.
If you're wondering about how much this update will cost the good news is Android 5.0, like all previous updates, is free.
Android Lollipop Material Design
The big news for Android Lollipop is the change to the way it looks - and it's going well beyond the mobile phone to the tablet, TV screen, watch and even the car.
The new Material Design is strange in that it bucks a trend at the moment - yes, it's flat, but it's heavily based on making every animation, every ripple, every shadow look real, which is something that most brands are shying away from.
Google tells us that this feels more intuitive, which means that there are shadow gradients, 3D tiles that slide over one another and most importantly: access for developers to use this for themselves on their apps.
The idea is obvious: remove the fragmented way Android looks and bring consistency to the app world no matter what device you're on. Google intends to create an expansive ecosystem that will allow you to start a song on one device, move to another room, pick up a separate Android device and continue right where you left off.
The Roboto font has been updated too, so everything from watch to TV to mobile looks the same.
Every animation on screen will be allowed to connect to one another - so there's no 'teleportation between apps'. The home, back and multi-tasking window buttons on Android 5.0 have been refined too, they're now geometric shapes which spin depending on what the app needs them for and overall this is a massive step forward for a cleaner, more intuitive-looking version of Google's mobile platform.
It's full of little flourishes and details too, for example the settings icon will spin round when you pull down the notifications screen. It's clear that a lot of thought has gone in to the changes, it's not just easier to use but is also likely to make you want to use it more, as every screen and every tap is a pleasure.
If you don't have Android Lollipop on your device yet then to get a taste of Material Design now just head on over to the Play Store on an Android device, as the material design update is available for it and a host of Google's own apps including Chrome, Maps, Calendar, Gmail and many more.
Notifications and lock screen
Notifications on Android Lollipop have been given an overhaul, so only the more relevant information about your apps is presented.
You can even adjust the OS to display notifications from the most important people and apps during the evening hours or an important meeting. The notification panel is being merged with the lockscreen, so you can see what's going on as you pick up the phone and get where you need to be with intuitive gestures- a double tap to open an app or a swipe to clear a notification.
Imagine that the lockscreen is similar to the notifications panel now, and you're pretty much there. That's not to say that the main notifications screen is gone, that's still there too and has undergone some changes of its own.
Android Lollipop will learn from you for example, working out what you look at and interact with more often to prioritise that notification.
Another big change is that notifications will flow over the screen at the top - get a call when you're playing a game and it will pop up at the top, asking if you want to take it. This will likely be the same with messages etc too, meaning less intrusion at the wrong times.
On tablets Google has also combined notifications and settings into a single screen, rather than dividing them up, you simply keep pulling down to see more. Sadly you still can't action notifications straight from the lock screen or notifications screen though, so if you get an email for example you still have to go into the app to respond to it.
As well as getting some notification action the lockscreen on Android 5.0 is also getting smarter - if you've got a specific location set up, or are wearing a Bluetooth device or have an NFC sticker, the phone will recognise you and unlock without a PIN.
Move away or take your watch off and you'll need to tap or swipe in a code when you unlock - or you can even use your voice.
Google has also improved Face Unlock with the Trusted Face feature, which is faster and more accurate than ever. It starts looking for your face as soon as you attempt to unlock your phone, so there's no waiting around and in our tests we found that it even works in poor lighting a lot of the time.