It always pays to be a Nexus owner, when Android updates come around. Although my Nexus 4 may not have some of the spiffy features that some other Android flagship phones, like the Samsung Galaxy Series have, the one thing you can count on is that your OS will receive the newest iterations of the Android software before anyone else. And better yet, given that it is a 'pure' Android experience, you can experience the OS as Google intended you to, without tweaks from manufacturers, like for instance, a Samsung or HTC.
My LG Nexus 4 received the Lollipop update early this morning, and I have been playing around with it for a few hours now. And at first look, it seems to be a fun, more colourful update with some definite improvements to user experience. Android Lollipop adopts the new Material Design that ensures flatter design. The OS now looks clear and clutter-free with flat icons. It is certainly a much bigger change from the last update, KitKat, which only made incremental changes to the JellyBean OS. This in comparison, is a complete overhaul of the User Interface, in terms of both design and usability.
Here are some of the changes we have noticed:
* You can do more from the lock screen
The new update allows you to read messages, see Google cards (like weather or traffic updates) and even access settings on your device without having to unlock your phone. So that means you can toggle WiFi, Blue Tooth, Airplane mode, auto rotate and mobile network straight off the Lock screen. Perhaps taking a cue from its most popular apps, Google has also added a flashlight to its settings screen, which uses the camera flash light as a torch.
You also have the option of hitting 'reply' or 'delete' on mails or texts that you receive even when your phone is locked. However after selecting one of the options, you will be required to unlock your phone to proceed further. I can see the usefulness of this feature for those of us with kids, who may unwittingly delete that important office mail!
* Notifications have changed
Notifications now look more like Google cards - black text on white backgrounds, and they have been moved to the centre of the screen for better visibility. You can also pull down and collapse notifications for more information, unlike earlier, when you had to tap on the notification to see it in its entirety. This means you can just glance at your notifications and decide whether or not you actually need to unlock your phone to read a mail now or later. Overall, it's a much cleaner look.
* You can create guest profiles
Similar to how you can with a computer, you can create guest profiles for other users on your device. Once a profile is created, guests can customize it with their own apps, wallpaper and so on. Guests can also adjust device settings like WiFi, which will affect all users of the device. This is possibly more useful for the Nexus tablet series, which more often than not becomes the family computing device. So that means that adults will no longer have to swipe through three screens of games to get to the app they want to use. Much appreciated.
* It's more colourful
The look and feel of the entire OS has changed. Icons for Mail, Contacts, calculator and a lot of the native apps on the phone have been revamped. The colours are brighter and there is a slight 3D effect on some of the app buttons, like for instance contacts.
Google cards are also more colourful. The titles of the cards now have banners, and when you click on them, you actually get more information than you used to. For example, one of the cards on my phone was for updates on the India-Sri Lanka one day series. When I click on the title of the latest card (which shows me the result of the fifth ODI), I also get images, a roster of the entire Sri Lankan team, and a link to more information on both teams including the official sites, Wikipedia entries and news articles.
One other change is that 'Galleries' are now called 'Photos' - this meant it took me quite a while to locate the pictures on my phone!
* The Keyboard is different
The keyboard is now black letters against a white background, which is a complete switch from the familiar black Android keypad we are used to seeing across devices. The keys are also bigger and clearer. The enter key and the emoji key are highlighted in cyan blue. However I couldn't detect any significant difference in terms of usability. Perhaps the update will make it easier for beginners to type. It is definitely a nicer keyboard though.
Verdict so far:
Although it is far too early for me to pronounce definitive judgement on Lollipop either way, the first few hours I have spent playing with it have given me plenty to be excited about. The notifications and the whole new look, make me feel almost as if I have bought a new phone, with plenty of goodies waiting to be discovered. From a usability perspective, I'm not sure what the new update will do to the battery life of the device, nor have I had the opportunity to connect it to a WiFi network yet - both of which have been listed as issues with the update. We will just have to wait and see.
Published Date: Nov 18, 2014 15:40 PM | Updated Date: Nov 18, 2014 15:40 PM