We've been waiting on a big update to Google's search app, having seen screenshots here and there that hinted at an updated design. With today's new Lollipop developer preview, the Google app's 4.0 incarnation was made available. We've got a download at the bottom of the post, but be sure to read the instructions first as getting this up and running on pre-L devices requires some extra fiddling. Also, you'll need to be rooted.
Previously, long-pressing a notification would offer a link to the app info page of any app that produced it. With Android 5.0 Lollipop Google is improving this functionality. Simply long-press and you get the app name and icon, as well as a link to the app notification settings. Look at how wonderfully hypnotic the animation is.
Lollipop brings in significant changes to the way Android switches back and forth between recent apps. In KitKat, this feature worked the same way it did in Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean. In short, you clicked the third icon in the navigation bar at the bottom, and the recent apps appeared as a list of thumbnails and app icons arranged into a column.
With Android 5.0, the entire look and feel changes.
On a scale of one to ten, I avoided Flappy Bird like the plague. I didn't play it. I didn't write about it. I didn't look at it in the Play Store. I wanted nothing to do with it and its evil ways. If you just can't get enough of that silly crap, however, there's an Easter Egg in Lollipop that you're just going to love: a Flappy Bird clone with huge lollipops and the bugdroid.
Lollipop goes after the operating system's janky app restoration process in a big way. Android 5.0 lets users transfer data from one device to another just by tapping the two together using Near Field Communication. But if you don't have a gadget with NFC or can't be bothered with that approach, the setup process also lets you pull down apps from devices that have been backed up to your account. You can even select specific apps to download, so you don't need to bring down all of the junk from your other device.
Use two-factor authentication? If not, you should, because it's more secure than if you don't use it. If you already use it, then you probably remember a time when the Android setup process was obnoxious because you not only had to put in your password twice, but also had to deal with an annoying web prompt to enter the passcode. It's a hard knock life.
Google fixed the first issue a while back when it removed the second password prompt, which made us all happy.
The new developer preview of Android 5.0 includes one tweak I'm sure everyone will be happy about—the dismiss all button has returned to the notification shade. I don't think anyone seriously considered the possibility that it would be gone forever, but it's good to see it back.
Since the dawn of time (or thereabouts), setting up a new Android device has been a real pain. Most users have their devices set up exactly how they want them, from installed apps to homescreens and everything in between. So when it's time to fire up that shiny new device and start using it (or after performing a factory reset), the next 4-6 hours of life are taken up by the tedious process that is getting everything back together.
On Wednesday, Google teased developers and enthusiasts by officially announcing Lollipop, but chose to delay the release of anything substantial for another two days. Well, we've waited for the obligatory 48 hours, and the SDK is finally available, just in time for the weekend. (Yay?) Developers can finally abandon the interim SDK and move on to the real thing. There's no more pretending 'L' counts as an API Level, Android 5.0 is officially numbered 21.