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Android 5.1 feature spotlight


[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Pattern Unlock Gets An Updated Animation

Personally, I'm usually not a secure lock screen user. Very rare is the occasion that my phone is out of my sight, so I usually just breeze right past the lock screen. But after a tip from a reader, I'm giving the lock screen a second look on Android 5.1. For users who rely on a pattern-based lock, Android 5.1 has yet another delightful detail - a new animation after a successful unlock. Now, the pattern dots float up more elegantly, gently rolling into the transition that delivers the home screen. The dots have animated in gracefully since 5.0, so it's nice to see their out animation catch up.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] 'Dismiss All' Button Turns Into A Delightful Detail

When Google introduced Android 5.0 with material design back at IO14, one part of the new design methodology that received a lot of attention was animation. Implementing cohesive, sensible, predictable animations is a big part of Google's new design push, but - as the guidelines point out - "delightful details" are just as important.

In Android 5.1, Google has turned the "dismiss all" button in the notification shade into one such detail. The icon has been flipped around to accommodate a new animation. When the user touches the icon to dismiss all notifications, it smoothly animates out, mimicking the motion of the notifications above it.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Fast Scroll Bars Receive Design Tweak

If you thought we had run out of details to talk about in Android's latest Lollipop iteration, think again. We'll go into 5.1 in gory detail for Getting to Know Android but in the meantime there are still a couple of little details worth pointing out individually. One of those is a tweak to fast scroll bars.

Fast scroll bars are typically used in lists of alphabetically-organized content, where users might want to quickly scroll to a particular entry or section. In 5.0, the fast scroll bar was an oblong shape sitting on a tiny little wire of a scroll track, but it served its purpose.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] The Notification LED Now Blinks In All Notification Modes, Even "None"

When Android 5.0 introduced the new convoluted detailed notification and volume settings, it did one thing that annoyed a lot of users: it removed the option and the possibility of having a true silent mode, where the phone wouldn't ring or vibrate, but the notifications would still trigger the LED notification light, and the alarms would ring normally. You had your choice of "None," which didn't blink the LED nor sound the alarm, or "Priority," which still let some things through but required a tedious setup.

In Android 5.1, the 2 issues of the "None" mode are fixed: we already found out that you can set a deadline to your notification interruptions until the next alarm, and now a Reddit thread has confirmed that the LED light will blink for notifications even on that mode.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Dynamic Quick Settings Tiles For Color Inversion And WiFi Hotspot Can Be Easily Hidden Again [Update: Auto-Rotate Tile Too]

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. Then we found out that you could force them to disappear by setting your date forward a month, then back.


That (not so) cool hack must have annoyed a few Googlers because Android 5.1 introduces a more orthodox way to solve the problem: simply long-press on a dynamic tile and you get the option to hide it until you trigger it again from the settings.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Streamlined And Consolidated About / Status Screen

This is decidedly not the heart-fluttering OMaGad-I-must-have-it-now-or-else feature of Android 5.1, but it's worth noting nonetheless. Remember on Android 5.0 when you headed for the About > Status screen of your phone or tablet and were greeted by a long list of information fields that you had to scroll through and try to figure out the logic behind? No? Maybe? Oh... you have already erased all previous recollections of Android 5.0. I see. Here, let me refresh your memory.

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Old About > Status screen

Well, in Android 5.1, this long list has been consolidated into a smaller one with subsections dedicated to the IMEI and the SIM, the latter including all network, signal, and operator information.

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Downtime Settings Now Allow You To Block All Notifications Instead Of Defaulting To Priority

Android 5.0 introduced recurring downtime as part of the new notification control scheme, and Android 5.1 brings an important enhancement to this system. You can now choose whether you want programmed downtime to trigger priority mode or block all notifications. It's all right there in the downtime settings, which you still have to dig for.

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Left: 5.0, Middle and right: 5.1

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] Android Beam Gets A Shiny New Share Icon

That new default Android icon in 5.1 we pointed out earlier appears to be showing up in more places than expected. It's the basis for an updated Android Beam icon, which you can see below.

Screenshot_2015-03-10-12-34-43 2015-03-10 19.38.55

Left: Old, Right: New

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] You Can Now Change The System Volume While Playing Audio

Android 5.1 seemed like a very minor update when it was announced, but there are actually a lot of cool little changes throughout the OS. For example, you can now (finally!) change the system volume while you have audio playing. Google added a new button to make this happen.

Screenshot_2015-03-10-09-32-23 Screenshot_2015-03-10-09-31-14 Screenshot_2015-03-10-09-31-18

Left: 5.0 volume, Middle: 5.1 with volume button, Right: 5.1 changing system volume

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[Android 5.1 Feature Spotlight] The Default Android Icon Has Finally Been Updated

You've probably seen that default icon an uncountable number of times. That little 3D Bugdroid with the cube on its chest—it's what Android assigns when something doesn't have its own icon. It's gone in Android 5.1, replaced with a new icon much more in keeping with the style of Lollipop.

large 2015-03-10 18.00.25

Left: Old, Right: New

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