1. We heart Easter eggs!
To set the mood, let's start with a relatively well-known feature (yes, feature) of Android 5.0 Lollipop – the hidden Easter egg.
As some of you will know, Google is in the habit of putting those in all major Android updates
– Gingerbread had one, and so did Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat. Lollipop is no exception, but here's the twist: Google added an entire game. That's right, if you go to Settings > About phone > Tap on Android versions 4 times in a quick succession
, you'll unlock the Easter egg. But to get to the game itself, you'll have to tap on the lollipop in the image several times and then long-press it. Yep, it's a Flappy Bird tribute, courtesy of Google itself!
2. Tap & Go
If you're switching to an Android 5.0 Lollipop device instead of updating, then you'll love the new Tap & Go service available during the initial phone setup. Its function is fairly simple from where we're standing: Google gives you the option to pair the Lollipop-touting device with any Android 4.1+ smartphone through NFC in order for things like your accounts to be quickly transferred to it over Bluetooth. From there, you can also choose whether you'd like to restore a backup generated by your old device, including apps and app data.
This is extremely handy and should make the transition to a new Lollipop device easier than ever – even your icons and folders are installed and then arranged in the same way they were on the host device!
3. Full charge ETA
Another tiny bit of functionality that Google added with Android is a new indicator that will try to estimate the time left until your battery is fully charged when you're plugged in. The firmware needs a few minutes before giving you an approximation, so sit tight.
4. Captain Obvious: Lockscreen shortcuts
This one should be painfully obvious, but in case you haven't noticed, the lockscreen of (stock) Lollipop gives you two shortcuts – the Dialer and Camera app on the bottom left and right. Just swipe up from the icon to access them.
5. Access Google Now cards
While still on the topic of the Lollipop lockscreen, you should also know that you can quickly access your Google Now cards without even unlocking your phone – just swipe down starting on top of your existing notifications to reveal them.
6. Find businesses' phone numbers easily
The much-improved Dialer in Lollipop allows you to search for the phone numbers of various publicly-listed businesses. All you have to do is use the search bar on top and input, say, Hard Rock Cafe. You'll get a number of suggestions depending on your location – just tap on one and the relevant phone number will be automatically dialed. Handy!
7. Overwrite default Camera settings
This one has been true for a while now, but if you just got yourself a stock Lollipop device (say a Nexus 6), you should definitely check up with the default Camera app in order to improve the quality of your shots and video. Indeed, if you swipe from the left once inside and follow the little cog and then enter the Resolution & quality submenu, you'll find a number of options available. Make sure you set the quality to the highest option possible everywhere to get the best results.
8. Activate exposure (EV) correction
You can also enable exposure (EV) correction by going through the same cog button and then > Advanced > turn on Manual exposure. Despite its outright misleading name, this feature will only let you do EV corrections, and won't allow you to manually set exposure on a per-shot basis.
9. Search in Settings
Never before in the history of Android has the Google Search bar been as omnipresent. But the type of Search bar you get with the Settings differs in that it only looks for relevant options within the menu's confines. Our knee-jerk reaction was to shrug it off, but we consequently warmed up to it and started using it – if you know what you're looking for, it's almost always faster then going after a particular option manually.
10. Quick access toggles
Google redesigned the notification bar in Android 5.0 Lollipop and it behaves differently then in the past. For example, there's no longer a secondary panel that holds your toggles – you instead pull down a second time to reveal them. Thankfully, Google kept a little sliver of functionality from previous versions, in case you were wondering – you can still pull down the expanded notifications bar with toggles shown with just one slide, so long as you use two fingers to do it.
11. Built-in Flashlight
A feature we all occasionally need to call upon is the flashlight. Whether because we're looking for our keys, or the lights go out, having the ability to quickly light your way is a great convenience. Unfortunately, in the past, you had to rely on a third-party app for that, which is obviously not an ideal situation. With Lollipop, however, this changes, as a Flashlight toggle is now available in the notification pane. Just use the two-finger pull down trick to quickly get to it.
12. Quickly check your data usage
The pull-down notification panel underwent more changes still. For example, you can now get at-a-glance information about your data consumption by taping on the cellular icon. This is handy if you are on a limited plan and know that you easily get carried away.
13. Quickly access your Alarm
Another neat sliver of functionality added with Lollipop is the addition of upcoming alarms to the notifications bar. Not only does this small rectangle indicate that an alarm is set (so you don't have to make sure every night), but it also gives you quick access to the Clock app – just long-press it.
14. Stop notification spam
Sooner or later, all of us end up with an app that relentlessly triggers notifications – it could be a free app nudging you to go for premium, or one of those Farmville-like "social" games that never stop pestering you. In Lollipop, identifying the source and blocking more notifications from being sent your way is super-easy. Just long-press the offending notification, and that will reveal the culprit. From there, you can go to the app's settings and take away the privilege.
15. Hide sensitive notifications from your lockscreen
Speaking of notifications, one of the bigger changes in Android Lollipop has to do with the lockscreen – it's now a full-blown hub for your notifications. And while we expect most people to embrace the convenience offered by this feature, all of us should keep in mind that this poses a privacy concern – anyone can go to your lockscreen and check out your latest notifications (some of which reveal sensitive info).
Thankfully, Google has thought of this and has added code that developers can make use of with their apps. Go to Settings > Sound & notifications > When device is locked > Hide sensitive notification content. That way, apps that make use of this new perk will hide their content from the lockscreen.
16. Disable lockscreen notifications altogether
As you probably noticed, you can also forbid notifications from going to to your lockscreen altogether by following the same procedure:
Settings > Sound & notifications > When device is locked > Don't show notifications at all.
17. Smart Lock
Smart Lock is another often overlooked feature-from-heaven for those of us who make use of Bluetooth gadgets or NFC tags. For example, if your smartphone regularly connects to a Bluetooth device (like your smartwatch, car, stereo), you can make it a trusted device in Android Lollipop. This will remove the security challenge when unlocking the device even if one is set-up. Especially handy in the car, where you want to spend as little time fumbling with your docked phone.
If privacy is a concern, you can grab one of those NFC rings online – that way, the phone will only unlock when you're holding it (or are very near it).
18. Priority mode
Google finally implemented a proper Do Not Disturb mode with Lollipop, and it's exceedingly easy to access – just click either of the volume keys on your device to summon the volume slider, which now lets you access three different modes: None, Priority, and All. If you'd like to get no interruptions, even alarms, None will do it, and you can even set a time frame as long as 8 hours (or indefinitely). On the other end of the spectrum is the All mode – everything goes through.
As you can guess, Priority mode sits somewhere in the middle. It allows you to filter the types of interruptions that go through and the ones that don't. For example, you can set up the mode so that only calls and texts from your starred contacts are allowed. You can also be very specific about the parts of the day Priority mode kicks in – for example, the time you typically go to sleep is usually a good starting point.
19. Limit connectivity for guest and user accounts
Some of you will have heard that a feature available with most modern Android tablets is finally trickling down to smartphones running Android Lollipop – user profiles. These come in two types: Guest profiles and normal User profiles, the distinction between the two being that a Guest profile is mostly intended for use when you want loan your device to somebody for a short amount of time, while a normal User profile is one you create if you intent to consistently share your device with someone else – say your better half.
That said, not everybody might know that you, as the admin, can actually curb the functionality of these profiles by restricting phone calls (Guest) or both phone calls and messaging (User). That way, the only calls anyone else but you will be making are emergency ones.
20. Pinning apps
Guest mode is a great feature to have if you're loaning your device to somebody for a few hours, but what about if someone just needs to make a call on your phone? Most of us wouldn't find anything to worry about in such a situation, but perhaps you do. Thankfully, you're not helpless in Lollipop – you can "pin" apps so that whoever ends up using your phone is confined to that one app. In order to escape, one would have to press both the recents and back key simultaneously and then go through your security challenge.
To activate the feature go to Settings > Security > Sceren pinning. From then on, you can pin the last app in your recent apps menu by clicking the mint-green pin button on the app's bottom right.
21. Shoot images in RAW format
There's a reason this feature has so far mostly flown under the radar – while the new camera API in Lollipop has been vastly improved and now also includes the ability to shoot images in lossless RAW format, the built-in camera does not yet make use of it. One of the few ways to take advantage of this new feature is to sideload the L Camera app, which should be treated as nothing more and nothing less than alpha software.You can read more about RAW in Lollipop here
22. The little things: Clock app
We love it when companies go that extra mile, and Google certainly did with the Clock app. Besides the functionality it offers, the Clock app now constantly refreshes its background, mimicking the time of the day. Early morning, you're met with a cool blue one, going through purple, and finally settling on dark gray.
23. High contrast text
There's a new options available with Android Lollipop that is extremely helpful in making out text on bright backgrounds – High Contrast Text (Setting > Accessibility). Also handy for people with non-perfect sight.
24. Non-intrusive calls
Android wisened up with Lollipop and is more considerate than ever – incoming calls, for example, will not take over your entire screen if you're using Google Maps to navigate around or playing a game. This is more welcome than some of you might suspect.
25. Reboots don't kill off your background apps
Before Lollipop, restarting your Android device meant a clean slate – all apps were closed and removed from the Recents tab. With Lollipop, however, Google moved to change that, so your Lollipop device will actually keep the apps that were running in the background before and after a reboot within your Recents tab (they're still not powered in case you're wondering). Awesome!
26. Built-in color correction
Approximately 7% of the human population suffers from one of three types of anomalous thricromacy. Simply put, this means that they perceive colors a bit differently from the rest of us. In Lollipop, Google added a new Color correction feature (Settings > Accessibility > Color correction) that will visibly tweak the display's color reproduction. There are three types of color corrections for folks with the above problem: Deuteranomaly, Protanomaly, and Tritanomaly.