Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat-- what do these all have in common? First and foremost they are all tasty treats that most everyone with tastebuds enjoys. They are also the names of each subsequent version of Google's mobile phone operation system, Android. Google recently released a developer preview to Android's newest version--titled "L" for now--that just might be the biggest makeover to its mobile phone operating system since its inception in 2007.
The most noticeable difference between the newest available version of Android, KitKat, and L is something Google is calling, "Material Design." This not only encompasses the aesthetic aspects of the phone's display but also its functionality. The entire theme of Android is completely redesigned, giving it a smooth and clean look and feel. There are two color options you can select as your theme: Dark Material or Light Material. The Dark Material has a black background with neon blue and white text and accents while the Light Material has a white background with neon blue and black/ grayscale text accents. Android L also features a refined version of Android's classic font, Roboto, that can be used across a wider set of supported platforms, and is easier to read than ever.
The Lock Screen is the first place you will see the newest features of Android L. For the first time on Android, specific notifications will display in tiles on your lock screen, very similar to how IOS displays their notifications. It's no secret that Apple and Android take features from each other all the time, and Android L is no exception. You can tap the tiles to open up the application directly from the lock screen, or swipe the tile to the left or right to hide the notification. While you can still swipe left to in the open space on the lock screen to open the camera like in KitKat, you can also swipe right to open up your phone dialer to make a phone call. One of the most useful features Android L is a battery indicator that, when plugged in, displays the amount of time left to charge your phone to a full charge at the current rate. This is a neat feature that is a simple way to keep you informed about the status of your device, which makes planning your day out easier. Also, to enhance battery life, Android L comes with a battery saver application, which allows you to limit features of your phone like background data. The battery saver is ideal for long hikes or times when you know you'll be without a charger for an extended period of time.
The notification panel also embodies the new spirit of Android L. It is beautifully designed with a transparent background where there are no notifications, juxtaposed with the solid notification cards. Android L adds a new way to access your quick settings like WiFi, Bluetooth, and Auto-rotate. On KitKat and previous version of Android, you had to swipe down on your screen with 2 fingers to access your quick settings; on Android L, you can access them by simply swiping down twice with just one finger.
One of the main focuses in developing Android L was making every user interaction with the OS intuitive. Every application or new screen that is launched opens up from a place on the screen that makes sense, like where you clicked from. Every gesture on the screen looks and feels natural and is easy to understand. Google has also added a shadowing feature that allows developers to add depth to their application by incorporating a z axis with regard to design.
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