We're back — and by we, I mean our best bro in the world, Ramit Suri — with another Android 5.1 interface change. This one is all about the screen pinning feature that was introduced with Android 5.0, which receives a small but useful facelift and an interesting change to its settings.
Screen pinning in Android 5.0
First of all, the above screenshots show how pinning works right now in Android 5.0. The settings screen only has one toggle to enable the feature with a detailed explanation of what it is and how to trigger it. When you pin an app, you get a dialogue explaining what you've done and how to unpin it later.
In case you haven't noticed, we love tiny details that make our everyday lives as Android users better. (And really, in case you didn't notice that, I'll show you the door — it's that X button next to the tab title up there in your browser.) Our friendly Android 5.1 tipster Ramit Suri loves them too, so much in fact that he noticed a teeny tiny detail on the lockscreen.
In Android 5.0, if you open the Quick Settings panel (henceforth referred to as QS) from the lockscreen, you would have to swipe the QS closed, then swipe again to unlock.
When Lollipop 5.0 first launched, it brought with it an interesting set of dynamic Quick Settings toggles. Drop down your notification shade and you could see the usual culprits like WiFi and Bluetooth, but a few toggles were hidden unless they were triggered once, like WiFi Hotspot or Invert Colors. The problem, however, was that once these showed up, they were there to stay ... at least for one month if you never touched them again.
This might be the best new Android 5.1 feature yet. Lollipop brought with it so-called heads up notifications, where the entire notification appears at the top of your screen momentarily when it first arrives. The problem was that you had only three options:
Wait until it goes away
Tap on it to open up the app notifying you
Swipe it away, making the notification disappear permanently
With this feature addition to Android 5.1, you can swipe up to get it out of your way without losing it entirely.
Despite its appearance on Android One devices, we've had complete radio silence from Google about Android 5.1. Still, as long as it is in the wild, we're going to keep hearing about it. In this case, we have found out that the animation associated with toggling the auto-rotate feature has come back in 5.1 after disappearing in 5.0. Take a look.
This might not exactly change the way you use your Android phone or tablet, but it's nice.
Google has come out unscathed from a lawsuit in which consumers accused the company of anti-competitive practices. The basic allegation was that Google requires manufacturers to use a Google version of Android and that the way they place their own apps at the forefront has increased prices and prevented potential rivals from emerging. The main issue is the stipulation that Google's search be default in order to preload Play Services on Android devices.
Android 5.1 is in the wild on Android One devices, but it's still not totally official yet. Google has yet to announce it and there's no changelog available. As more people get their hands on 5.1, though, we're bound to learn some things about it. Like, for example, the quick settings changes and these neat little animations in the 5.1 clock app.
Back in 2014, one of the changes spotted in Google Search was support for settings toggles through voice commands. At the time, the feature wasn't complete — it merely gave you a shortcut to open the corresponding settings panel. That wasn't helpful at all, since you had to use your fingers to make the change, which would have been done much faster through the drop-down quick settings. In Lollipop, starting with 5.0, some of these toggles work as they are supposed to, through voice commands alone and without the need for some third-party hack like Commandr.
December brought us many gifts, not least of which was the official release of Android Studio v1.0. While things have been fairly quiet for developers sticking to Stable releases, the Android Tools team has been busy with a steady stream of updates for those of us on the Canary builds. After two months in development, v1.1 is finally ready to roll out to the masses.
Owners of several Android Wear watches (Sony Smartwatch 3, LG G Watch, and Moto 360 so far) have reported seeing an update hit their devices to bring it up to Android 5.0.2. The corresponding build number is LWX49K for the G Watch and Smartwatch 3, LWX49L for the Moto 360.
But before you get excited about a host of new features rolling up to your favorite wearable, this one seems to be all about the bug fixes and stability improvements.