Developers have a lot to look forward to with the latest release of Android, but not everything requires Lollipop to run. With the official release of the SDK for API Level 21, Google also included an updated version of the AppCompat Support Library, which contains back-ported versions of UI controls and other features for use on older versions of the OS. Some of the new libraries were first available with the L Preview SDK, but just about everything has received an update, and there are some additions for the official release.
Android includes tools to follow the state of your battery, but not Android Wear. Seems like an oversight on Google's part, but developers are trying to fill in the gaps. The first such app showed up just recently, but now there's a new Wear battery tracker from the developer of the fantastic Wear Mini Launcher. Wear Battery Stats can be used on the phone or watch to see how the battery has been doing and identify potential issues.
Update: While the message sent out to developers may be new, as it turns out, the information is not. It repeats what Google said back when it announced the availability of the Android 5.0 SDK. Here's the relevant passage.
"OK Google, what is Microsoft Garage?" Well, Rita, it's an idea incubator for Microsoft employees who like to dabble with things non-Microsofty in their spare time, like Android for example. They have a crush on us, but they still can't completely deny their allegiance to the quad colors of Redmond so they indulge by mixing in some Bing bangy bongiddy features. "Ah, thanks Google. Can you give me an example?" Sure Rita, that Bing Torque app they just released, though if you ask me, they need a copy editor for their Play Store listing: "It is like to have Microsoft’s Cortana running on your smart watch." That was a direct quote and it is like to read a torturous story for me.
Google has promised standalone music playback over Bluetooth as part of Android Wear for some time, and it appears with Wear version 4.4W2 we're finally getting it, at least if you use Play Music (you're also getting new playback controls). If you're using the latest Play Music APK on your Android phone and have the Android 4.4W2 update on your smartwatch, you can now download your pinned music from your smartphone to your watch.
Android 4.4W.2 is slowly rolling out to various Wear devices this week, and my G Watch R review unit just received it earlier this afternoon. A couple of commenters have pointed out a new feature in W2 that we hadn't yet noticed - you can now hide notifications, as opposed to dismissing them, directly from the watchface.
Among the many features Google talked about when the Android L preview rolled out was an improved version of Android Beam, and it's here in the new Android 5.0 dev preview. NFC sharing has existed since Android 4.0 in some form or another, but now it's finally something you can use without second-guessing yourself. Just pick a file and start beaming.
Google has used the CRT-style screen-off animation since Gingerbread. That animation is gone in Lollipop, replaced with a gentle fade out. Frankly, I'm surprised the CRT stuck around this long. However, the new animation isn't just a fade to black. It actually fades to black and white—observe.
Left: normal speed, Right: slowed by 5 times
Yesterday we reported on the appearance of several redesigned emoji in the keyboard Google's rolling out with Android 5.0. In the piece, I concentrated on the improved consistency brought in by the tweaks. As it turns out, there was one more change hidden in plain sight among the others, and its importance shadows all others. Google has quietly addressed a bug report that has lingered for years.
Let's take a look at the issue at hand here.