With less than 24 hours left until Apple’s “It’s been way too long” iPad and Mac media event, the Internet giant Google in a pre-emptive strike Wednesday officially unveiled the next major version of its mobile operating system, Android 5.0, along with the newest Nexus-branded hardware devices: a Motorola-made smartphone, a HTC-made tablet and an Asus-built game console and media streamer.
“A sweet new take on Android,” Android Lollipop is actually the Android L software the search giant teased at its Google I/O conference back in the summer. Containing over 5,000 new APIs for developers, Lollipop has been designed to be flexible to support all screen sizes and devices while taking Android’s customization to the next level.
Featuring consistent look and feel across devices (Material Design) and the ability to support low-end devices (Android One), Lollipop enables fluid transitions between tasks while making it easier to pick up on one device where you left off on the other, similar to Apple’s Continuity in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite.
Specifically, your songs, photos, apps and recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all the other ones, explains a post over at the Official Google blog.
Lollipop also introduces more finely-graded controls to manage notifications across devices to help reduce cognitive burden stemming from alerts hitting all your devices at once. For instance, you can now adjust notifications so that only certain people and notifications can get through, with important alerts showing on the Lockscreen.
And to optimize the battery (Project Volta), Lollipop lets you identify battery hogs running on your device. A new Battery Saver automatically kills apps, shuts off Wi-Fi or dims the display to give you up to 90 minutes of additional battery life.
Other new features include guest mode and multiple user accounts for keeping your personal data private, the ability to secure your device with a PIN, password, pattern or by pairing it to another trusted device, such as an Android Wear-powered watch or car with Smart Lock.
Here are the basic principles behind Material Design.
Nexus 6 phone
Hailed as a “bigger phone with more everything,” Google designed and built the Nexus 6 in collaboration with Motorola. It’s got a massive 5,96-inch QuadHD screen with a 1,440-by-2,560 pixel resolution (the iPhone 6 Plus has a full HD 1,920-by-1,080 pixel screen), dual front-facing speakers, a thirteen-megapixel camera out the back with optical image stabilization and a two-megapixel one out the front.
Powered by a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor with the Adreno 420 graphics and rocking a 3,220mAh battery for over 24 hours of use from a full charge, this phone is meant to go places and be used extensively.
It also files as Google’s most pricey handset to date with a $649 price tag for a contract-free variant. The Nexus 6 will come in 32 and 64GB tiers, with carriers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular set to begin accepting pre-orders later this month.
Last but not least, it’s going to ship with Motorola’s Turbo charger that can charge the internal battery for up to six hours of run time in an incredible fifteen minutes.
Nexus 9 tablet
To build its next Nexus tablet, folks at Google have teamed up with their friends over at the Taiwanese handset maker HTC. The result is the Nexus 9, an Android Lollipop-driven tablet which Google says is “for movers and makers”.
It’s got a thin bezel and brushed metal sides, sports an 8.9-inch IPS LCD screen at 2,048-by-1,536 pixels (same as full size Retina iPads) and runs a speedy 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor clocked at 2.3GHz with Kepler DX1 graphics.
Other features include an eight-megapixel camera on the back, a 1.6-megapixel shooter out the front, a 6,700mAh battery, HTC BoomSound speaker, 32GB or 64GB of on-board storage and three colorways (Gold, Black and White) with a “soft grip back”.
And in a nod at mobile warriors, they’re offering a keyboard folio that attaches magnetically to allow users to type at different angles. The Nexus 9 will be available to pre-order this Friday, October 17, starting at $399. The tablet is set to ship on November 3.
Running Google’s Android TV software, this sleek and streamlined games console and streamer was born out of collaboration with Asus and is Google’s latest take on the living room.
Featuring voice search, Cast support (Google’s version of Apple’s AirPlay), a revamped interface for less browsing and more watching with personalized recommendations on the Home screen, the Nexus Player is like the Apple TV on steroids.
Of course, it has a built-in app store to download Android-based games and apps optimized for the big screen, something Apple’s $99 set-top box has yet to achieve. And like Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s device comes with an elegant remote featuring minimalist design with a built-in mic for voice search.
The Nexus Player is available for pre-order starting on October 17 and in stores starting November 3.
Signing off, here’s the obligatory shot of an Android Lollipop statue at Google’s Mountain View headquarters.
By the way, Android Lollipop will also be available on the older Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks, Google said. As for Motorola, they published a list of devices that will receive a free Android Lollipop firmware upgrade, with more devices to be added at a latter stage.
So, how do you like today’s advancements in the Google world?
And which Nexus are you?
Don’t be shy, chime in with your thoughts down in the comments. Our Android friends are more than welcome to join the conversation, too, but please let’s keep the discussion civil.