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Android 5.0 Lollipop

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Android Lollipop was the 5.0 release of Google’s mobile operating system. This version of Android launched with groundbreaking features, including an all-new “Material Design” language, enhancements to notifications, performance improvements, and more. Google called this release the biggest in Android history at the time, with over 5,000 completely new APIs.

Features |

Material Design

Google separated Lollipop from the strictly flat design of Apple’s iOS with Material Design, which allows developers to specify the “elevation values” of elements within apps — automatically creating shadow and perspective for the user. The company also updated its famed typeface Roboto, allowing developers to use one optimized font across a number of different platforms.

As part of Material, there are several animations for developers to use that include sleek visual feedback to freshen up the experience when users are navigating Android apps.

Notification Enhancements

Google also enhanced the notification experience in Lollipop, bringing full access to notifications right on the lock screen. Swiping down gives you the full list of notifications, essentially combining the lock screen and the notification pane. The company also introduced a completely new kind of notification called a “heads-up” that is really easy to dismiss or engage with.

Lock Screen Enhancements

Google also announced something called “personal unlocking” alongside Android Lollipop, which enables your device to determine whether or not it is in the owner’s hand. It can take advantage of locations, Bluetooth devices that are in range, and even voice. In the Keynote, the example of a Bluetooth watch was used and when the watch was removed, the device prompted for a passcode.

Performance Improvements

Android Lollipop also included a plethora of performance improvements. Lollipop runs on the “Art” runtime that was (first previewed with the release of Android 4.4 KitKat), which is truly cross-platform covering ARM, x86, and MIPS processor types. The runtime is fully 64-bit compatible, which brings “larger number registers,” “newer instruction sets,” and “increased addressable memory space.”

Better Graphics with Android Extension Pack

Android Lollipop also shipped with better graphics capabilities through something the Android Extension Pack. This set of capabilities includes tesselation, geometry shaders, computer shaders, and ASTC texture compression. The feature was demoed at the event with a video of EPIC’s Unreal Engine 4 desktop rendering pipeline running on Android Lollipop.

Battery Improvements

Rounding off the performance improvements in Android Lollipop was improved battery life. Project “Volta” was announced, which — amongst other features — improves the “instrumentation” of battery data through a tool called Battery Historian. Also announced is the JobScheduler API, which helps developers optimize power consumption in apps. And finally, Google added a “Battery Saver” mode in Lollipop which can be triggered manually or configured to be enabled automatically when the battery is low.

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Compatible devices |

Android 5.0 Lollipop works with most Android phones released after mid-2014, and many that were released prior. Phones that shipped in 2016 onward likely shipped with Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, which you can read about here.

Nova Launcher’s Google Now integration now works on Lollipop devices

Just last week the talented developers behind Nova Launcher finally solved one of the biggest pain points of almost every third-party launcher by including native Google Now integration. The feature is clean and works great, but it does involve a bit of a workaround to activate. Now, the availability of that feature is expanding to older versions of the OS.


Samsung Galaxy Tab A NOOK is Barnes & Noble’s latest 7-inch, Android 5.1 eReader


With the NOOK, Barnes & Noble was one of the earliest companies with an eReader and large collection of eBooks. While the bookseller stopped most internal hardware development a few years back, B&N still partners with Samsung to release NOOK-branded devices. The latest is an affordable Galaxy Tab A NOOK available for only $139.


Screenshots show first look at Android N as Settings app might adopt a hamburger menu

Hamburger Menu Android N

One of the arguably biggest efforts pulled off by Google in recent times is its massive visual facelift that goes by the name of ‘Material Design‘.  Among the most prominent concrete examples of its practical application, Android certainly stands out, and in Google’s commitment towards bringing a more unified and consistent looking OS, the company may be taking things a step further by the time Android N lands.

In a report from Android Police, the publication independently confirmed that screenshots found on the Android Developers blog post about Android Support Library v23.2 are coming from a yet-unreleased version of the OS, which seems to be implementing the famous hamburger menu inside the Settings app…


New Android distribution numbers show Lollipop gaining more ground than Marshmallow


Google has released the latest distribution numbers for the various shipping versions of Android, with the latest version, Marshmallow, picking up a marginal increase.

Last month’s numbers showed Android 6.0 running on only 0.3% of devices, while this month’s chart puts it at 0.5%, making it the least-used version of Android except for Froyo.


galaxy s6

Samsung’s latest Android Lollipop software ‘About Phone’ screen now shows most recent security patch info


Many manufacturers have committed to keeping up with the monthly security patches being released by Google. The move came after a major security threat, dubbed ‘Stagefright’ was discovered a few months ago. Among them, Samsung stated that it would release security updates to its high-end devices. Up until now, however, you haven’t been able to see how up-to-date the security is on your Samsung flagship.

In its latest round of firmware updates, Samsung has updated the ‘About Phone’ section within the settings menu to show when the last security patch was delivered. Spotted by Android Central, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ builds in Europe and Galaxy Note 5 builds in the Middle East are seeing this new information. The builds specifically mentioned are G928FXXS2AOK9 for the S6 Edge+ and N920CXXU2AOK6 for the Note 5.

Like in Android Marshmallow, the new Lollipop firmware on these Samsung phones shows a new field with the label, ‘Android security patch level’, followed by the date when it last received a security update. If you have recently downloaded a new version of firmware, you can check for yourself by heading to Settings, scrolling down to ‘About Phone’ and the new security patch level field could be there.


Up until now, Android Marshmallow was the only software which showed how up-to-date security is on a particular device. This development could signal a couple of things: Either Google has mandated that manufacturers need to start showing this information, or that Samsung is genuinely attempting to keep users in the loop, and being transparent about its software delivery. Either way, this can only be a good thing.

Review: BlackBerry’s Priv is a step in the right direction, but not the phone that saves them [Video]


Meet the Blackberry Priv. And in case you’re curious, that stands for “Privilege of Privacy” thanks to its super strength data encryption. What makes this phone unique though comes from a couple of places. First off, it’s a BlackBerry phone running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and second, that physical keyboard. But before you instantly dismiss this new smartphone, let’s take a look under the hood…


ASUS ZenFone 2 Deluxe ‘Special Edition’ arrives in the US at $399 w/ 128 GB of storage

ASUS ZenFone 2 ZE551ML US Version 128GB ZE551ML-23-4G128G-SE B&H 2015-11-06 14-17-11

We already heard about the ZenFone 2 Deluxe when it was announced for India a few months ago, but now the phone is available in the United States in the form of a “Special Edition” model. It’s not all too different from the standard ZenFone 2 (which is actually a pretty decent phone for the money), but it adds to the package a couple of fancified back covers and 128 GB of flash storage.

Its specs are pretty much identical to the ZenFone 2. There’s an HD IPS 5.5-inch display, 13-megapixel/5-megapixel rear and front cameras, respectively, and a 2.3GHz 64-bit Intel Atom processor with 4 GB RAM and 4G LTE. The Special Edition inherits dual-SIM capabilities, and sadly, you’ll probably be stuck with Android 5.0 Lollipop for a while with this phone.

We’ve found the phone for $399 at Amazon, Newegg, and B&H Photo Video, but it doesn’t seem to available quite yet at the time of this writing.

BlackBerry details the features of its upcoming PRIV slider phone [Video]

PRIV Feature Overview - YouTube 2015-10-29 08-52-57

BlackBerry’s PRIV handset is getting a lot of attention, and there’s many reasons for that. The most obvious is that it’s a slider phone — something that we haven’t seen on Android for quite a while. BlackBerry was known for their sliders and holding onto the physical keyboard when the rest of the industry moved on, and now they’re bringing that back in a secure package that seems to be more than decent. Many won’t bat an eye, but there are others who might notice some of its unique features.

To highlight those features and hopefully catch those potential customers, BlackBerry has uploaded a video demonstrating what the PRIV has to offer: it’s physical keyboard, BlackBerry Hub, Pop-up widgets, its curved 5.4-inch screen, and more:

The PRIV is also bringing a lot to the table for those more interested in getting great specifications. The phone has a 5.4-inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution AMOLED display at 540ppi, a Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor, 3 GB RAM, and 32 GB of expandable storage. You’ll find an 18-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, dual-LED flash, and a 3,410 mAh battery. Sadly, though, it looks like the phone is going to launch with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.

You can pre-order the BlackBerry PRIV from the company’s website.

Honor 7: Unboxing Huawei’s budget-brand premium-design Android smartphone [Video]


At long last, I’ve got my hands on the affordable, premium-looking Honor 7 handset by Huawei. In Europe, the Honor brand is known for releasing good quality phones, at cheaper-than-expected prices. Considering the specs, the £249 price-point is fantastic. In the US, the $440+ price isn’t as appealing, but you might like the phone nonetheless…


ZTE AXON mini officially announced, pressure sensitive screen, octa-core chip and eye scanner in tow


ZTE AXON and AXON mini

ZTE is continuing its push in to the market of competitively priced premium smartphones with today’s official announcement of the ZTE AXON mini. The phone was initially unveiled back in July, but today it gets official pricing and release details for the first time…


ZenPad S 8.0: Unboxing and first impressions of ASUS’ 2K budget-friendly Android tablet [Video]


The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0 is the company’s latest attempt to bring us a competitively priced product at an affordable price. The 2GB RAM model featured in the video costs just $211 in the US (£199 in the UK) and packs a 2K resolution 8-inch display, a quad-core Intel Atom processor, 8MP f/2.0 rear camera and Android Lollipop, all in a device which looks and feels fantastic…


As Android Marshmallow launches, Lollipop reaches 23.5% of devices

Lollipop Forest

Google finally made Android 6.0 Marshmallow available to download for Nexus users yesterday, and as it did, its previous newest version of the OS reached 23.5% of current connected Android devices. That means Google’s “sweetest update yet” jumped 2.5% over the past few weeks.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 18.59.57

As Android 6.0 launches, we’re still in a position where most users on Google’s mobile OS are using a version that’s at least two years old. A huge 38.9% are using Android 4.4 KitKat (launched in 2013), while just over 30% are using one of the three versions of Jelly Bean, which was initially released way back in 2012. To put it bluntly, that means that the previously most recent version of Android was only the third most popular OS.

We’re used to Apple poking fun at Android during its iOS announcements every year, and we’ve read just about every angle there is going on the fragmentation argument, but stats like this won’t do anything to help Google’s cause. Realizing that more than three quarters of its user base are still running 2+ year-old versions of software can’t be a good thing. It’s part of the reason Google announced the Android One program last year.

Android One devices are typically very budget-friendly smartphones made available in developing markets which — like the higher end Nexus phones — get the latest software as soon as it’s available. Marshmallow, which was only launched yesterday, has already started showing up on these Android One phones.

How to update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow manually using OTA downloads

Quick tour of new features in Android 'M' developer preview 2 - YouTube 2015-09-25 12-52-20

Google today announced that Android Marshmallow is coming OTA to several Nexus devices in the coming days and weeks. If you like to get the latest from Google, you know that “coming weeks” could be a pretty long wait. Thankfully, you can head to the front of the line and install the over-the-air (OTA) update by following our quick guide…


First official BlackBerry PRIV images published


As device launches go, the BlackBerry PRIV’s announcement has been anything but ordinary. The first teaser was at BlackBerry’s press event at MWC in February, at which point it was assumed this would just another BlackBerry 10 OS device, albeit one with a slide-out keyboard. We then learned through multiple leaks and rumors that it would be, in fact, an Android phone.


Software release schedule from Telus suggests Android M rollout to begin October 5th


Google has an event scheduled for September 29th, at which the company is expected to launch its upcoming lineup of Nexus phones, new Chromecast hardware, and more. The two new Nexus devices are surely going to ship with Android Marshmallow, and that means that over-the-air rollout of Marshmallow to older devices is set to begin sometime soon as well.

According to leaked schedule from Canada’s second largest mobile carrier, Telus, the day that’s set to happen is October 5th… Expand

Flagship Meizu PRO 5 is official: All-metal design, octa-core Exynos 7240 chip, full HD display, more


Meizu has just taken the wraps off its latest flagship smartphone and — from the spec sheet alone — this could be one device worth paying attention to. Apart from the display resolution, everything about the device is high end. From the build quality to the camera and processor, the Meizu PRO 5 is a beast…


Review: Huawei’s Mate S is well-built w/ a very fast fingerprint scanner, but falls short in some areas [Video]

huawei-leadI’m fairly new to Huawei’s lineup of smartphones, but since I was such a big fan of Huawei Watch, I had some high hopes and expectations for this new device. As with Huawei Watch, the unboxing experience is excellent. Huawei knows how to do packaging. It’s clean-cut and presented well. Though packaging is only a small part of the battle…


Sony Xperia Z1, Z Ultra, and Z1 Compact now getting Android 5.1.1 Lollipop

Xperia-Z1-Compact-Android-5.1_1-315x560.png 2015-09-14 13-39-31

If you’re still using one of Sony’s Xperia Z1 handsets from 2013, this little tidbit is for you. Apparently, Xperia Z1, Z Ultra, and Z1 Compact handset are getting updated to Android 5.1.1 in some countries (via XperiaBlog). Alongside some really neat updates like richer Xperia themes, several Camera improvements, and new SmartWatch 3 functionality, the update also fixes the vulnerabilities in Stagefright…

Along with the above changes, this update to Android 5.1.1 includes new settings menu icons, “additional options” for WiFi and Bluetooth in the notification pull-down menu, new icons in the Settings menu, LinkedIn integrations for Calendar and Contacts, enhanced enterprise features of some kind, and more. As mentioned, the Camera has also been updated including improvements for focus, speed, and accuracy in “Superior Auto” mode.

Here’s the full change log:

– Improvements to volume and silent mode control, more control of your alerts, simplified and enhanced design
– Integration of LinkedIn with your Calendar and Contacts
– Camera focus, speed and accuracy improvements in Superior Auto mode
– Many new features for Xperia in Business, enhancing enterprise support for Xperia
– Now take pictures from the camera using Sony SmartWatch 3; use the SW3 as a remote shutter button
– Instant calendar events – create & share smart events directly from any email
– Calendar agenda in Email – no need to switch apps to check upcoming events
– Richer Xperia themes
– New Settings menu icons
– Additional options for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in notification menu

PSA: Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition is now getting Android 5.1


According to a few different tips around the web, those who own the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition — which isn’t that many people, mind you — are now receiving an over-the-air update to Android 5.1. Yep, that’s the version of Android that started rolling out to Nexus devices a full six months ago.

An Android Police tipster says that the update is arriving on a LRX21P device, updating to Android 5.1 with build LMY47O. You can download the update straight from Google’s servers by clicking here. Otherwise, just keep an eye on your device for an over-the-air update notification to pop up sometime soon.

If it took this long for the phone to get 5.1 Lollipop, I wouldn’t be surprised if we never saw Marshmallow. And who knows if and when the Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition will get the latest 5.1.1 Lollipop build.


LG G4c review: A budget curved-screen Android phone with a few notable compromises [Video]


LG’s G4 is one of the best phones on the market this year. It has a phenomenal camera, great display and lasts all day on a single charge. So, when LG used the same brand name for a mini version, expectations were understandably high. Does the G4c deliver as a mid-range smartphone?


BLU Pure XL coming soon: 6-inch QHD display, fingerprint sensor, octa-core Helio X10 + more for $349


UPDATE: BLU has officially announced the new device. The device is made predominantly from metal, like many of the current high-end phones on the market. BLU has partnered with MediaTek and claims the Helio X10 chip being used to power the new smartphone is among the fastest chips available on the market, and scores some of the highest benchmark results on AnTuTu. What’s more, the camera on the back is covered by sapphire crystal while the 8MP front camera is wide angle, to fit more in to your selfies…


Alcatel’s disruptive, popular Idol 3 gets a splash of color, with the OneTouch Idol 3C


If the only thing holding you back from buying the awesome and super-affordable Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 is the color choices (or lack thereof), you’ll be glad to know the company is releasing a more colorful range. The Idol 3C is identical to the Idol 3 in almost every way, except you can kit it out with an interchangeable rear shell in a choice of five “juicy” colors.


Moto X Play Review: A serious mid-tier phone without the flagship features and price [Video]


As far as the major manufacturers go, Motorola is one of the few trying to push the boundaries of what we should expect to get for our money. It wants to give us the best mobile Android experience possible for each price range. The Moto G is the king of the low-end phones and the Moto X has been a wonderful high-end phone. The Moto X Play sort of sits in between, and despite not being absolutely perfect, it’s a very good phone overall.


Huawei Mate S is official, packs 5.5-inch display, all-metal body and Force Touch


After weeks of speculation and leaks, Huawei has finally announced the Ascend Mate S, what many see as a direct competitor to the likes of the iPhone 6 Plus and HTC One. It has a bunch of flagship staple features as well as a couple of unique selling points which will get you talking, if nothing else.