Google has given a preview of Android L release, the next version of Android. The next build of Android brings 5,000 APIs for developers and allows them to make use of all new features that the platform brings starting today.
With Android L, Google has focussed on both design and performance.
On the performance side, Android will now support 64-bit processors and will now have better runtime, graphics and battery life.
Google has replaced Dalvik runtime of previous versions with ART (Android RunTime) on Android L release. ART was only optional in Kitkat, but has become mandatory with the new version. According to Google, ART shows a huge performance boost over Dalvik; therefore, all apps should run much faster on Android L version than earlier OS. It has been designed to support AOT (Ahead-of-Time), JIT (Just-In-Time) and interpreted compilers.
As ART is compatible with 64-bit processor, Android L release will offer increased memory space, cross-platform support and newer instruction sets. Additionally, it requires no modifications to Java.
Google will debut a new Android extension pack with this update, which includes features like geometry and computer shaders with Android L release, tessellation and ASTC texture compression. These will allow designers to create richer graphics for the platform.
Android L also comes with a new battery-saver mode, Google announced at its I/O 2014 conference. In order to ensure longer battery life on Android, Google has tried to optimize every subsystem in the software as part of Project Volta. This will help Android phones and tablets to run 90 minutes more by switching off services that are not crucial.
On the design side, the next version of Android will see a number of changes, revamping the user interface to a large extent, much like how Apple did with iOS 7 last year.
Matias Duarte, vice-president of design at Google, introduced a new design language called Material Design. This language emphasizes on a flatter UI look, rounder elements, softer edges and shadows. Transition effects in various apps will be smoother in the Android L version.
Material Design will give new animation capabilities, 3D views with real-time shadows etc to app interface designers. Nested scrolling, a new feature, will allow designers to ensure that certain parts of the UI can be scrolled differently.
Notifications have also been revamped with Android L, showing Google Now-like cards on the screen. Users can also access all notifications right from the lock screen as well.
Enhanced Notifications, another new feature, enables users to control notifications on the lock screen and also prioritize them when using the smartphone.
Google also said that it will ensure better security on Android platform, allowing users to remotely reset their devices in case they are stolen.
In line with rumours, Google announced that Android will dive into the enterprise sector with the next release. Focussing on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) culture in companies, the internet search titan said that it will release new APIs that will enable users to manage their personal and official data on the same device without any hassle. Android L’s key security features are based on Samsung’ Knox, which is now part of Google’s operating system.
Google has, however, not yet revealed what the name of next Android update will be or when it will be released. Android versions are named after desserts, and several students from India have appealed to Android chief Sundar Pichai to name the next iteration as ‘Ladoo’ or ‘Lassi’.
At the last two I/O conferences, Google had unveiled hardware products, namely Nexus 7 tablets and Google Glass, but there was no device this year.