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First announced at Google I/O earlier this year, the latest edition of Google’s mobile operating system comes with the tagline “Be together. Not the same”.
In part, that’s a reference to the large number of mobile device manufacturers who build devices running Android, but it’s also a reference to the fact that you can now use Android on everything from smartphones and tablets to TVs, watches and even PCs.
And while no one’s come out and said that it’s a dig at Apple, it’s not too difficult seeing it that way either.
According to Google, Android 5.0 Lollipop is its most ambitious release to date, with more than 5 000 new APIs for developers.
It also says it’s tried to make it as easy as possible for the OS to work smoothly across all the devices it could potentially be installed on.
“With more devices connecting together, your expectation is that things just work,” the internet giant says in an official blog post. “With Lollipop, it’s easier than ever to pick up where you left off, so the songs, photos, apps, and even recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all the other ones”.
That consistency of experience is also reflected in the design language of the OS. Called Material Design, it received a lot of attention at I/O and is meant to ensure that content responds to your touch, or even your voice, in more intuitive ways, and transitions between tasks are more fluid.
According to Google, Lollipop also gives you more control over your device. You can now adjust your settings so that only certain people and notifications can get through, for example, when you’re out to dinner or in the middle of an important meeting. And when an important notification does come through, you can see it directly from the lockscreen.
Perhaps the feature people will be most desperate to work though is the battery saver feature, which claims to extend the life of your device by up to 90 minutes.
Google’s also enabled multiple user accounts and guest user mode, alongside the ability to secure your device with a PIN, password, pattern, or by pairing your phone to a trusted device like your watch or car with Smart Lock.
This kind of convergence is undoubtedly becoming increasingly unnecessary, especially given the rate at which ordinary devices are becoming smart.
If Lollipop works as Google claims on launch day, then it could potentially steal a few steps on Apple, its fiercest rival in the space.
But while it’s worked on making upgrades simpler and faster, there still remains a sense of fragmentation around Android.
That’s something that Apple largely doesn’t have to worry about, which is one reason Google will be hoping the device released with Lollipop — the mammoth Nexus 6 — sells in unprecedented numbers.