Android L at Google I/O

This Wednesday, Google announced the latest version of Android, Android L (they haven’t officially announced a dessert codename). Google has also released the developer preview (which has already been rooted on the Nexus 5 and 7).

It brings a fresh UI they call a Material Design, which brings more aesthetic consistency when compared to the User Interfaces on other Google sites. It’s a bit flatter and brighter, designed to be easier on the eyes. These visual changes are coming to all of Google’s platforms, including the TV and Android Wear.

Along with the new visual comes a cleaner keyboard without boxes around each key.

Under the hood, one key difference is the way apps are run: Android has historically run a virtual machine, Dalvik Virtual Machine, to help with compatibility across all the devices (in much the same way that, when you run a Java app, Java compiles more cross-platform code into instructions that your computer can understand). Virtual Machines are not without downsides: they tend to be slower and can be less memory efficient.
In Android 4.4 Kitkat, there is an option to run the new Android Run Time. Now, instead of converting code from a developer into code for your phone right when you run it, ART compiles the program when you install that program. Whereas Kitkat’s default runtime was Dalvik, the newest version of Android has done away with Dalvik altogether, opting for ART as the only option. You can expect that Android L will run apps a good amount faster than previous versions.

Also under Android L, there will be more power controls – how fast the CPU runs, whether a radio is on  – that help extend battery life.


Of course, there will surely be many other changes in the final version. What do you think about Android L?

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