Android L Q&A: your questions answered
A couple of weeks ago, we posted our preview of Android L, which was based on our experience with the platform's beta release. Soon after that, we invited you to ask us anything that you wanted to know about Android's newest flavor. Many of our readers took this opportunity and submitted questions for us to answer; those who did are getting their responses today.
When will my phone get the Android L update" post. That's where we've listed the phones and tablets due for an update, and the article will be expanded over time, as more info is released by manufacturers. With that out of the way, let's get to the answering part.Before we continue, we'd like to remind you that all the available official information regarding L's release is in our "
"We're currently referring to it simply as the L-release. A version number and name has not yet been confirmed." Furthermore, we heard from the Twittersphere that Android L will get a proper dessert name once the best one is picked. Lollipop does indeed sound like a fitting name, but it isn't the platform's official and final name yet. As for Android L's public release, we don't have an official date, but we're guessing that we're still at least a couple of months away from seeing the version in its final form.About the mystery surrounding the platform's name, we sent an inquiry to Google and received the following response:
It looks like the complete hardware requirements for Android L aren't known yet, but is safe to say that the platform would require at least 512MB of RAM and an ARMv7 processor to run. It is early to say whether or not the L release will run well on a phone with just 512MB of RAM, but there's very few of them being released now anyway. As for Project Svelte and Project Butter, rest assured that the benefits they bring aren't going anywhere.
That's a great question you got there, but we're afraid that we can't answer it with absolute certainty. At least not right now. We executed our standard battery test – the same one that we use when reviewing any phone or tablet – on our Google Nexus 5 running Android L, but the "boost" in battery life vs the exact same phone running KitKat was literally under three minutes. Perhaps our testing method does not benefit from L's power management optimizations. Google, however, is promising significant battery improvements thanks to project Volta, and other medias confirm that they've recorded a boost of over 30% in battery life.
Yes, Android L brings new camera APIs which could potentially make not only the stock Camera app better, but also the third-party apps that take advantage of these APIs. Here's a post dedicated to these camera APIs in Android L. Whether or not the stock Android camera would be better than those by Nokia or Samsung is hard to say right now – determining this will surely require proper real-life testing. As for the Moto X camera app, there's a chance of seeing improvements if its camera app is updated to take advantage of the new software in Android L.
We don't like it that the 2-finger swipe-down gesture for bringing the quick controls is gone, and we miss the button for clearing all notifications. Also, we're hoping that the design of the recent apps list will be tweaked by the time L is ready for release. Some might miss the lock screen widgets, but we can live without them. One of the little things we like is the intelligent automatic brightness adjustment – even if you set a level manually, the system can still fine tune the brightness of the screen if doing so is needed. And, of course, the Material Design looks pretty sweet, although we have yet to see how the Android UI will look like when the overhaul is complete. Right now in the Android L beta, most stock apps look like they did before.
Custom ROMs based on Android L should come once the platform's final version is out, along with the code necessary to build one.
Android L will benefit from 64-bit processors to some extent. So will the 64-bit Android apps running on 64-bit hardware. Plus, Android's 64-bit compatibility will pave the way for smartphones with 4GB of RAM to be manufactured. However, one should not be expecting a huge leap in application performance out of the move to 64-bit. As a matter of fact, ordinary folks might no see any difference at all. It is the heavy apps, the ones handling large chunks of data, that might be faster on 64-bit gear, but your Contacts list isn't going to load any faster. Note that 32-bit support won't be dropped, so existing handsets like the Galaxy Note 3 will still work with L just fine.
ART shortens the time an app needs to launch and it should also improve applications' responsiveness and performance. But right now, it is hard to feel a big difference as the Android L beta is still a bit shaky. Some apps and games don't load up at all, and synthetic benchmarks don't indicate that any boost in performance is present. Apps don't have to be converted in order to run on ART.
The Android L beta is using kernel version 3.4.0-g370231c, as indicated in our phone's "About" page. As for your other question, the developer preview is missing some of the design changes that are coming. In the Android L beta, Google's apps and services are still with their old design. And about changing the colors, we seriously doubt that would be an option.
Yes and no. There are 10 country flags that you can technically use (here's a screenshot), but for some odd reason, they aren't listed in Hangouts. Perhaps an update to the keyboard will take care of this. By the way, you can totally download Android L's keyboard from the Play Store.
We don't really know. The screenshots on Google's web sites have the old icons, and so does the L beta. But they don't fit well into the whole Material Design thing, so seeing them in a redesigned form is possible.
The Android L beta does not support lock screen widgets, and we're assuming that we may not see them in the final release either.
Manufacturers can still put custom on-screen navigation keys on their phones. The new stock ones are definitely different, but we wouldn't really call them worse compared to the previous set of on-screen keys.