Android version 4.4 KitKat has not been available for a year, but already Google is talking its next major Android update at its I/O developer event. The latest version of the mobile platform is simply known as “L-release” at the moment, although we suspect it will get a nice new food based name before it is rolled out to devices.
Google is touting the L-release as the most dramatic overhaul of the Android platform ever, bringing even more sweeping changes than what Ice Cream Sandwich did nearly three years ago. That means the subtle shift from Jelly Bean to KitKat is gone and Android will look completely different thanks to a design language caused Material Design. The overall look is flatter than previous Android builds and icons and details. Google is pushing this new look beyond Android and it will find its way to Chrome and services such as Gmail and Google+. Needless to say, the L-release does not come with a pretty new face as Google has packed the new Android version full of new features. Notifications, battery life, performance enhancements, and improved graphics are just some of the new features heading to L.
Notifications are now prioritized, and can appear on the lockscreen. If someone swipes down, the notification shade expands. Double tapping a notification launches the ap, swiping left dismisses it, and swiping up closes all notifications. There’s also a heads up notification that hovers over current activity. So instead of a phone call being full screen and taking over a game, you can continue activity and see a small notification at the top with two buttons for options to respond. Speaking of the lock screen, users can interact with a watch to authenticate their identity. For instance, wearing a watch will let the phone know that it’s you so it won’t present a lock code. However, once someone takes that off, the security requirement reappears.
Of course, we will bring more detailed reports of some of those new key features. As for the L-release, the build will be heading out developers tomorrow morning, with the finished software set for roll out during the fall. That means Android 4.4 KitKat will be replaced after less than a year on the market, making way for the far more advanced and 64-bit compatible L-release.
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