The adoption rate of Android Lollipop, after more than two months of its release, has remained shockingly low. A major update – Android 5.1 Lollipop – is scheduled to be launched in the end of February. We have highlighted some likely improvements in the new update, in what follows.
The latest round in the tussle between Apple iOS and Google Android has been a fascinating one. The latest mobile platforms from either (iOS 8 and Android 5.0 Lollipop) have not been perfect – but while the adoption rate of iOS 8 has soared, that of Lollipop 5.0 has remained below 0.1%. In fact, official Google stats revealed earlier this month highlighted Kitkat as the most popular version of the Android platform (with a shade less than 40% device share), while the figure for Lollipop were too low to be even displayed. After a couple of minor bug-fix updates (5.0.1 and 5.0.2), Google is all set to roll out a full-blown Android 5.1 Lollipop update from the second half of February 2015. Here are the major changes expected in the new update:
- Lower consumption of network resources – Early adopters of Android 5.0 Lollipop had confirmed that the platform caused their handsets to hog too much of data resources, particularly when connected to wireless networks. According to Android app developers, this tended to affect the speeds of the installed mobile applications. In the new update, the network usage levels would be lowered, so that the devices can work at high speeds.
- Arrival of the Silent Mode – In a bewildering move (or was it an oversight?), Google developers removed ‘Silent Mode’ from the Lollipop interface. This led to large volumes of user-complaints. As per reports from AndroidPit, the ‘Silent Mode’ option is all set to make a return on the Lollipop 5.1 version. People who like to keep their phones silent will heave a sigh of relief!
- Better battery performance – Well, as long as you are not expecting something ground-breaking – the battery performance of Lollipop 5.1 is likely to be significantly better than that of the initial version of Android L. The notoriously low battery life has been one of the key causes of users staying away from going for the update – and improvements in this regard would certainly be welcome news. Updated handsets should provide at least 2-3 hours of additional battery juice.
- Removal of ‘Ok Google’ problems – Voice-interactions with handsets running on Android 5.0 Lollipop has not been a uniformly smooth experience for many users worldwide. There have been issues with understanding voice commands, while reports have also come in regarding erratic task executions. In the new update, mobile app development experts as well as general users expect Google Now – the mobile digital assistant for Android – to become way smarter. The ‘Ok Google’ command might just become more useful.
- Lesser probability of connection drops – A major early problem with the Android Lollipop platform has been the unreliability of wi-fi connectivity. The frequent connection outages and drops have even caused several users to downgrade their devices from Lollipop to Android KitKat. This has not escaped the attention of the experts at Google, and the 5.1 update has been customized to provide fast and interruption-free wi-fi web browsing experience. With the percentage of mobile browsing in total internet usage going up every quarter, this could hardly have been overlooked.
- Alterations in the color palette of the Material Design interface – There had been a lot of hype over the all-new ‘Material Design’ of the Lollipop platform. It has not wowed everyone, however – and in particular, the default color palette has been generally deemed as unsatisfactory. As predicted by Android app developers and software analysts, the color pallette of Material Design is set for an overhaul in the Android 5.1 Lollipop upgrade. It would be interesting to see exactly what changes are actually made in the pallette.
- Fix of issues related to sudden app crashes – Although presence of bugs can also cause applications to crash/freeze, the new platform from Google Android has been responsible for the generally poor performance of apps installed on updated devices. As per early test reports, the frequency of crashes and sudden closures of Android apps on the Lollipop 5.1 platform is considerably lower than that on its predecessor. Downloading and using verified apps from the Google Play Store is likely to become much more hassle-free.
- Removal of notifications-related problems – Google promised better management of notifications on Android Lollipop. What final users received is a platform where the entire notifications system was confusing and problematic to handle. The feedback of users has been given due consideration by Google, to create the much more customized alerts and notifications system on the 5.1 version update. Checking new notifications will be a quicker and more seamless task on it.
- Greater stability – Not everyone who has moved to the Lollipop has experienced this, but reports of devices becoming slower, less responsive and lagging after the update have not been uncommon either. In order to keep up with the quality standards set by iOS (notwithstanding its own troublesome new version), Android 5.1 would come with greater stability and performance assurance. This, coupled with the revamped RAM features and superior battery life, is expected to bolster the user adoption figures of Android Lollipop.
- Improvement in audio features – A relatively minor complaint regarding the troublesome new Android mobile platform has been its under-par sound features. There have been cases of sudden volume fluctuations, while on certain devices, the audio has perpetually remained on the lower side. High-definition, crystal-clear audio features are sure to be a major highlight of the 5.1 update. People will no longer have problems with conversing on their phones and/or accessing the sound features of their favorite Android applications.
- A better, quicker rollout – This is, of course, not a problem with the platform itself – but the rollout strategy Google adopted for Android 5.0 Lollipop. Till this day, there are scores of Moto E and Sony phone-owners wondering when Lollipop would finally arrive on their handsets. Many devices have also got the Android 5.0.2 update directly, bypassing the 5.0.1 version. Android 5.1 Lollipop will be rolled out in a much more systematic manner – with the Nexus phones (understandably), getting it first, followed by the latest flagships of other vendors.
- Smarter multi-tasking options – Lollipop brought multitasking to Android devices in a big way, and if the buzz in leading online Android app development forums are anything to go by – this feature will get a further lift in the eagerly anticipated new update. The card-styled display of ‘recent apps’ might be tweaked around just a bit, while every tab would have its own card visible to the user. The lockscreen of updated handsets would be more secure too.
- More user-friendly controls and features – Two months of monitoring user-reactions to Android Lollipop’s features (the source code was made available in early-November) has given Google ample time to list out scopes of improvements in the platform. Although not yet revealed in detail, app developers and reviewers are expecting a fairly large number of new features in Lollipop 5.1, focused on enhancing the user-friendliness of the platform. Too many of new features might end up confusing people though.
- Better mobile web browsing via Google Chrome – Given the early promise that Android Lollipop had come with, the spectacular failure of the Chrome browser on the platform has been remarkable. Users have frequently lost pages stored in the incognito mode, tabs have closed/reopened on their own – and instances of browser crashes (unexpected shutdowns) have also been rather frequent. Chrome on Lollipop 5.1 is expected to be much more stable and reliable.
Rather worryingly for professionals who create video-based Android apps, there are no fixes for the video playback bug in the changelog listed for Android 5.1 Lollipop. Problems with the flashlight are, however, likely to be resolved. Android fans had fun pointing out the early bugs and issues with iOS 8 – but the shoe has been firmly on the other foot since the launch of Android Lollipop. Let’s wait and watch how good (or otherwise) the 5.1 update turns out to be.
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