Android 5.0 Lollipop on Nexus 6Each successive generation of the Google Android platform has demonstrated a good deal of growth, evolving the smartphone and tablet experience into what it is today. And just as many of the Android 4.4 KitKat features helped to make your life that much smarter and much more convenient, Android 5.0 Lollipop has gone even further with a dramatic new design and loads of new features. Some of these might be dismissed as little more than eye candy and others are “under the hood” improvements that the user may never see directly. And then there are these awesome changes that breathe new life into Google Android.

Double-Tap Lockscreen Notifications

In the past, users could load custom builds of Android or install special applications in order to see or interact with notifications from the lockscreen. With Android 5.0 Lollipop, these notifications have been a standard feature, letting you know right away whether you have a new text message, e-mail, Instagram comment or a missed call. And if you double-tap on any of these notifications, the phone will go directly to the associated app.

Bypass the Lock Code with Trusted Devicess

Smart Lock Options on Lollipop

Smart Lock Options on Lollipop

Dubbed the “Smart Lock” feature, it is now possible to skip entering your lockscreen password when you establish trusted devices, trusted places and trusted faces. Trusted devices include not only Android Wear smartwatches, but just about any Bluetooth device. When the phone is connected to this device, you don’t have to enter your password. Trusted places are based on GPS and trusted faces uses the front-facing camera to identify the user.

Check Your Wireless Data Usage

Overage charges from cell phone carriers can get very expensive, very quickly. When you have a limited amount of data to use each month, you don’t want to be hit with a massive bill when you go over your bucket. The data tracker has existed in Android before. With Lollipop, you can more quickly access this basic information from the quick access panel (swipe twice from the top of the screen) by tapping on the cell signal block.

Last Longer with Battery Saver Mode

Few things are worse than running out of battery when you’re only partway through your day and there is nary a charger in sight. Some companies have produced battery saver modes for Android before, but now there is one built right into Lollipop that reduces performance and minimizes background data so you can last just a little bit longer. It can be set to activate automatically when you have either 5% or 15% battery remaining.

Cast Your Screen to Chromecast or Miracast

Mirror Your Display Without Wires

Mirror Your Display Without Wires

Do you want to show a cool picture, video, webpage or app on your Android smartphone to those around you? Rather than having everyone huddle around a 5-inch display, you can wirelessly cast it to a Chromecast or a Miracast-compatible device quickly and simply. Again, this is a feature that has existed before, but now it’s just one tap away from the quick access settings panel

Illuminate Your Day with Native Flashlight

That quick access settings panel is apparently the gift that keeps on giving. Google has borrowed a lot of inspiration from what third party apps have provided to the Android platform and this is yet another example of this. If your phone is equipped with an LED flash on the back, you’ll be able to use that as a flashlight from–you guessed it–the quick access settings panel in one convenient tap.

Switch Phones Easily with NFC-Enabled Setup

Getting a new smartphone can be pretty exciting until you have to go through the process of re-installing all your apps and re-entering all your settings. Android 5.0 Lollipop has made this process a lot easier, because you can tap your old and new phones together via NFC for the “Tap & Go” automatic restoration. Enter your Google credentials and it’ll take care of the rest.

Avoid Interruptions with Priority Mode

Block Unimportant Notifications

Block Unimportant Notifications

All those notifications can get pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re in the middle of an important business meeting and nothing but the most important of notifications deserve your attention. Similar to a custom “do not disturb” mode, priority mode lets you define which notifications can come in and which will not. You can even set priority mode to last for a specified length of time, in case you forget to deactivate it after that stressful TPS report consultation.

Navigate All Chrome Tabs with Multitask View

The way that the multitasking menu worked before was that the Chrome browser showed up as a single “task.” This was both a blessing and a curse, because sometimes you wanted to return to a specific website. Now, when you bring up the multitasking view, each Chrome tab shows up as its own task, so you can quickly jump from one to the other to another app.

Say “OK Google” When the Screen Is Off

You might recognize the “always listening” feature from the Moto X and now it’s a part of the core Android 5.0 Lollipop build too. If you have a device with digital signal processing support, you can set it up so that you can say “OK Google” even when the screen is turned off and you’ll bring up the voice-based Google assistant. That supports search, as well as basic instructions like sending text messages or getting driving directions.

Image credit: TechStage / Flickr

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