25
Jun
1[7]

Android's L release is going to bring about a ton of new changes and improvements, and they took time to talk about a few of the most important today. That includes a new default runtime, improved graphics, and improved battery life.

ART is now the default runtime

We actually saw this coming, but it's now confirmed. ART brings twice the performance over the current runtime, Dalvik. It has been available as a preview for KitKat, but is becoming the default (and from what I can tell, only) runtime in the L release. It's more memory efficient, more flexible, and faster. Even older devices will benefit from this.

Better Graphics

They didn't actually talk about this a lot, but it was pointed out that NVIDIA, Qualcomm, ARM, and a few other partners have teamed up with Google to improve everything graphics related.

Improved Battery Life

1 2 2[6]

This one is huge. The L release is bringing major changes to how Android manages battery life called Project Volta. There aren't a whole lot of user-facing details at this time, as most of these changes seem to be very developer-centric. What we do know, however, is that Android will now have a native battery saver, though it appears to be pretty basic. There are a lot more under-the-hood changes also going on here, which we'll take a look at more in-depth as more information becomes available.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    So it's really just called "L"? No dessert or candy name? Has the name just not been finalized yet?

    • Sean Cummins

      I was just thinking about this. I'd honestly be just fine with it. Aside from Android enthusiasts, I don't hear anyone every use the names. Most people I know don't even know what version they're on.

    • KingOfDope

      I heard that it's gonna be called Lollipop

    • Derik Taylor

      Or how about Licorice? Because everyone loves and wants licorice, right?

    • Swaginator

      It's Lollipop.

    • gesd

      Pretty simple, they just didn't give us the name because its a sneak peak.

      Had they given the name, that would have been an "announcement"

    • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

      They will reveal the name when it is released to the public. And seeing as how the L in the statusbar in the earlier leaked image looks like a lego piece, I'm betting on Android Lego. Even though I prefer Lollipop.

      • Manny Fleurmond

        Unless you can eat legos, I doubt it

  • http://www.about.me/kendallseabury Kendall Seabury

    So now all the those people whining "Y U NO WORK WITH ART!!!" will shut up?

    • Nada

      No, they will multiply!

      • someone755

        Agreed.
        A lot of apps still don't support ART, so now not only the "enthusiasts" will whine, but also everybody.

        • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

          Alternatively, developers will make their apps compatible now that they know it's worth their time investment.

          • joser116

            Developers won't have to do anything

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          Good thing the dev preview is coming out months before the actual release, so app devs can update their stuff. And if they don't, well, they're just freakin' lazy.

          • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

            If I flash the dev preview of L release, it is going to disable xposed, right? I'm can't live without xposed at this point. :'(

          • Crispin Swickard

            Until they update the compatibility, but its supposed to be on the way. I think I will flash my n7 just to play around with depending on a couple apps compatibility that I need to investigate..

          • joser116

            All apps will work in Android L without the developer having to make any changes to their apps. Developers won't have to update their apps so they can run in Android L.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            But isn't ART designed to not require devs to update their apps to support it?

        • joser116

          Developers won't have to do anything to make their apps ART compatible, so both of yous are wrong

          • someone755

            Why was there all that talk about apps requiring some sort of tweaking to support ART?
            And why did a LOT of apps crash to me when 4.4 was just released and I enabled ART?

          • abqnm

            It seems as though there will be some sort of fallback mode built in. In the keynote it was mentioned that it used a combination of AOT, JIT, and interpreted (whatever that may be). So it seems like it may still be able to use JIT (dalvik's compile method), though I can't yet confirm this.

          • XerBlade

            Even if it still used JIT all the time, it would still be better than Dalvik's thoroughly archaic JIT compiler (now, it would be pretty tough for a straight interpreter method to beat JIT compilation no matter how archaic it is, but that's a separate issue). There's a lot more difference between ART and Dalvik than just the basic theory behind the method used.

          • Martial Clausse

            Because ART is a beta runtime.
            Beta crashes.
            Most of the tweakings were workarounds for ART bugs.
            ART was never actually released as stable, it was just a beta preview for developers.

          • joser116

            Sundar Pichai said in the keynote that developers won't have to do anything to make their apps work when ART becomes default in Android L.

          • Jason Bourne

            Incorrect. Developers will have to make changes to utilize ART instead of DALVIK. Don't believe me? Go ahead... prove me wrong; release an app that written for DALVIK but still runs on ART.

          • joser116

            Sundar Pichai said so.

          • XerBlade

            Already done. Actually, try those tons of apps out there from before KitKat was released that haven't been updated since and still work.

            The only reason some apps (key word, SOME, nearly all are already fine) have problems with ART is ART in KitKat is still unfinished, so those apps (the ones where developers are bothering) are throwing in workarounds for the buggy parts in the ART developer preview, not actually "making it compatible" from their end. Actually, compatibility isn't even the right word. ART and Dalvik are compiler/interpreter interfaces. They translate the exact same code, so something properly written in real, parseable language should do the same thing in either one. Take it from someone who actually knows how this sort of thing works and didn't just pick up second hand information from reading a bunch of these web articles on ART and think he's now somehow an expert. That will obviously change when ART goes live for real.

            Now, this obviously doesn't apply to system level hacks of the sort of the Xposed Framework, because, well, I mean, those aren't even apps to begin with.

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            What about... all of the Play Store apps that still worked on ART when it was first released in beta?

          • https://plus.google.com/+MichaelBond codemonkey85

            That's what I thought... my understanding is that the only reason apps were broken in KitKat was the unfinished nature of ART.

        • Christopher Mason

          We don't know that yet. The version of ART included with Android L might be more stable. It is being included by default, after all.

      • joser116

        How?

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    Also, what will happen with apps like Xposed? Are they screwed now that the latest version of Android exclusively uses ART?

    • ProductFRED

      The Developer has an ART compatible version but is waiting till Android L is actually released to push it out. Don't ask for a source because I read it in a comment on here.

    • joser116

      Developers won't have to do anything to make their apps compatible with ART.

      • Evan Knofsky

        That is an extremely inaccurate statement.

        • joser116

          I watched I/0. Sundar Pichai said it.

          • Jason Bourne

            No. He said older devices and apps can make huge gains in performance if they convert to using ART as their run-time.

          • ash

            No, he said developer's don't have to do anything to make an app work with ART. However exact wordings were different.

          • joser116

            Again, he said developer's won't have to do anything to make their apps work with ART in Android L. Once you get an Android L device, you can theoretically install any app you want and have it work.

        • joser116
      • deve

        XPosed is a bit different than a normal app...

  • Yowan

    Will OpenGL ES3.1 be implemented?

    • renz

      maybe more than that. that is AEP. for example with OpenGL ES 3.1 tessellation is still not included in OGL ES 3.1.

      http://www.anandtech.com/show/7867/khronos-announces-opengl-es-31

      so if dev want to use tessellation now they can do it without being limited to OGL ES 3.1 spec.

      • Liam

        Tesselation wasn't included because it's an expensive operation. Gles picked the most appropriate APIs for a battery constrained environment.

        • renz

          yes it is.

  • RobertLWilliams

    This one is huge. The L release is bringing major changes to how Android manages battery life called Project Volta. http://x.vu/hyLsq3

  • someone755

    "Even older devices will benefit from this. [about ART]"

    Too bad the "older devices" includes the Nexus 4.
    And that most "older devices" won't get the update anyways.
    And that Sammy, the creator of most sold shitty low-end phones, will probably stick with JB for another 5 years.

    • Nes

      Pretty sure my contract will expire before my S4 gets the latest update, and I really want better battery life right now.

      • Jeremy Gilliam

        Buy a nexus 5 and make it your new phone. Most services will change your phone over for free. I have been doing it for years.

        • someone755

          My service doesn't offer me shit for free.
          If my operator was in charge of a public toilet, there would be a price to get in. And it would not be cheap.
          Sad thing is, it's the least expensive carrier in my country.
          ;-;
          The smallest amount of money you can pay is 1€ for a phone. And that's the old flip and candybar phones.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Damn, man. That's a wholllllllllllle lot of speculation on your part.

      • someone755

        Oh Cameron, what, when talking about Google details, isn't speculation? xD

        Though, to be honest, most people doubt that the N4 will get the update. So if a Nexus device that old doesn't get it, how likely is it for another OEM (*cough* Sammy *cough*) would update a 20-month old device?
        Plus Samsung's low-end phones = shit and no updates (a small bugfix at best). And, like it's been speculated before, Sammy has their own apps, including an app store. So really, they could dump Play Services. Or maybe they'll go full Tizen.

    • Mako

      Fortunatly they can't stick with JB, but they have to update to the last version when releasing a new phone

      • someone755

        I was being a tad extreme, but seeing as Sammy has their own app store and all that ... they don't really need Play Services. So they might as well stop paying Google for them and stick with good 'ol JB.

        • XerBlade

          Their sales projections would suffer if they removed Google Apps (keep in mind NO Google Apps will work without it, and even if they did, the license from Google requires a bare minimum of Play Services and Search to ship on all devices that wish to use any Google-based apps; also note a lot of the newer features in Android JB and higher depend on the Play Services Framework to even work). Samsung would never in their right minds go for that insane a plan.

          • someone755

            Oh so now the people at Samsung are sane all of a sudden? :P

    • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh

      The Nexus 4 will get L. THe L debugging screenshot was taken on a Nexus 4. So stop with the wild speculation!

      • someone755

        Add up the history of all Nexus devices and this is what you get;
        18-24 month support on OS updates. Google only keeps the current and the previous generation device. The N1 died when the Nexus came out, the S died with the N4, the GNex died with the N5. And a new phone is released every autumn. So, when Google releases a new Nexus phone, which is usually in autumn, which is also when "L" is supposed to officially appear, the N4 should lose Google's support.
        It's not really guessing and "wild speculation" but more of getting the pattern of the last 5 years down and applying the knowledge of that history to the present. (Okay it's still speculation but no way is it wild.)

        • Matt Terk

          Although the Nexus community keeps them alive indefinitely. That's why I but nexus, it's what the developers use ;)

          • someone755

            Well it does extend the lifetime of the device for a year, rarely two.
            And some phones do get as much (if not more) community support than Nexus ones. And sometimes, it's the OEM that really helps the community.
            Running an Xperia S here. Released in Q1 2012. It has 4.4.4, even though Qualcomm never made the chipset support a 3.4 kernel (and with that, JB). Sony pulled through and made a 3.4 kernel and JB 4.1. With that kernel, we've come through 4.2, 4.3 and now 4.4. So it's been a few months of its post-first-24-month life.

  • Toss3

    Is this enough though? Apple brought Swift and Metal, and have the benefit of having had 64-bit support for over a year already. Wish Android would finally be smooth, even when downloading and installing an app in the background (causes slowdowns on every device I've tried).

    • Matt Terk

      To be honest, thats an incredibly specific nit-pick. "The device doesn't perform as blazing fast as usually while it writes and installs a new program to memory". Having not used an apple product since my iPhone 2g, that's my last reference and that phone completely stopped functioning while the install bar moved across.

      • Toss3

        I know it's a nit-pick, but I know that it could work just fine with the right optimisations - and that's what I keep getting bothered about with android; with just a few more performance optimisations it would be on par or better than iOS. But as it stands right now, iOS has the upper hand in both performance and app-quailty.

        • AppleMinions,☞,BowDown

          Here's what Android got going for it. It's a more stable OS, and has less app crashes than iOS!

        • Matt Terk

          I believe both of your points are invalid there. Performance wise, there are no devices running the same hardware to test both OSs on, so going on flagship models, the G3 and the like really best the latest iOS devices. App quality, that's entirely subjective. I find there are little to no ads in android apps, whereas any iPad app I have used had an large banner slapped somewhere demanding my 99cents. But again, subjective.

        • Liam

          The current gen iOS devices are using the fastest cores around. Wait for the a57 cores to drop on android then we'll see.
          There's also the choice of Google to go with a VM runtime which they're going to have to live with when it comes to performance in general. They couldn't gotten x platform easily with various toolchains but they've saddled themselves with a VM instead.

      • XDAMM

        Even my iPod touch 5g slows down considerably when installing an app. The animations and scrolling are jerky since iOS 7 update, but installing an app makes the thing go into slow mode, everything pauses so often i'd rather not use it at all.

    • Anwar

      Downloading an app in the background has been seamless for me, on a Samsung Captivate & on my Nexus 4.

      • Toss3

        Used to own the Nexus 4 before upgrading to the S4, and what you said is definitely not true.

      • Rodrigo Gomes da Silva

        The problem is with actual install.. the download dont slow any device

    • joser116

      They should really use those multiple cores for that

      • Liam

        They should use affinity, in particular.

    • Trysta

      The slow down while installing apps was absolutely terrible on my old 2012 Nexus 7 so I get where you are coming from but I just tried to replicate the same stutter on my Nexus 5 and everything is still smooth as butter. So I think sheer performance improvements (from the cpu and perhaps better quality storage) have reduced this issue on current devices.

    • XerBlade

      On both my Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 2nd Gen, with the ART developer preview (I'm now imagining when the real thing gets here...), I get no slowdown when I download and install an app in the background (for the all of half second that takes). In fact, I've many times (including earlier today [which took place on KitKat 4.4.4, naturally]) queued up a ton of app installs/updates when I was on a slow enough connection for it to actually take a while, then went about my business with that going on in the background... and completely forgot that I had installs going on.

  • Jeremy Gilliam

    Finally!!! So excited for this update. I have been using ART on my Nexus 5 from the beginning and works better than the other three we own in the house. Can't wait for this update!

  • DirkBelig

    Project Volta = Actually paying attention to all the people screaming about wakelocks. Believe it when I see it.

  • Colin White

    Do you think most of this will be hardware-specific? I assume CM/AOKP/PA/etc. will bring the new Android version to older devices, but will my SGS3 be able to get better battery life?

    • XDAMM

      This should be the case, the increase in battery life from 4.1 to 4.4 on the S3 was small, but noticeable. There's a lot of software optimizations going on, hopefully the CM team will be able to bring this awesome OS to our old but still great S3.

  • NF

    Did the guy on stage say it'll increase the Nexus battery life 19 minutes? I thought so, but that's not something to write about.

    • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

      I thought I heard wrong and he probably said 90. Which one is it?

      • Crispin Swickard

        It was 90.

    • guest

      90mins. Still not much.

      • Arthur Dent

        What a tool.

      • Dominic Powell

        depends what his total battery life time is. If the quoted battery life was 12 hours then 90 minutes is >10%. if its 15 hours then thats still a better than 10% battery life improvement.

    • frhow

      He said 90, his accent made him seem like he said 19.

  • Nathan Fletcher

    Art = no like as long as it takes up more space. My moto x is plenty fast with dalvik

  • dddde

    Battery saver mode is a bad move. It shouldn't be a sacrifice to have good battery life. My phone has a toggle for it and i have never used it in years. When i have low battery i either plug it in or shut down

    • lovehater

      What a troll man,,applauds

  • Liam

    I want to know more about the touch latency improvements that were mentioned.

  • CJ Vanilla

    AP did a write up on the performance of ART a while back including benchmarks and such ("Meet ART"). I believe it was written up when ART was first released. I know it hardly matters because we really don't have a choice in the matter of using ART in L, but is AP going to revisit doing a story on ARTs improvements over Dalvik when it is out of beta. It would be cool to know the improvements to ART are actually their. When AP wrote up the article the differences between them were very meh. That being said at the time very few programs had actually written programs for ART.

  • Marcello Pavoni

    Seeing as radial animations and circle-shaped buttons are all over, could it be that the next release is to be named Android Lollipop? (and, maybe, but I'm just guessing here, as it happened with kitkat, it means a partnership with Chupa chups?)

  • Baggins234

    Just switched to ART using 4.4.2, so preview KitKat version. 167 apps on board, no issues at all, phone (Moto G) faster and smoother - noticably. Think there must be some "burn the witch" going on here?