With Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google has given the OS its biggest visual makeover since Ice Cream Sandwich. Every single nook and cranny of the OS has been touched by Material Design and the new animations. However, there is more to Lollipop than just Material Design.
The OS comes with a number of new features that provide a big usability boost. While some of these features are pretty straightforward and easily visible, there are others that only seasoned Android users could know about. Below we have mentioned such features, tips & tricks that will help you master Lollipop.
Did you know that Lollipop comes with a very handy guest mode? Under this mode, the OS hides all your app and other personal data allowing you to give your phone to anyone without worrying about them stealing a glance at your personal photos or other data.
Enabling Guest Mode in Android 5.0 is pretty simple. Simply drag down the Quick Settings by pulling down the Notification bar twice. Then tap your profile photo on the top right of the display and select the ‘Add Guest’ option. Your device will then instantly load a guest profile with only the core Google apps pre-loaded and with all your data hidden.
Quickly switch keyboards
On Android 4.4 and below, changing keyboards while using an app was a pretty tedious process. You had to first drag down the notification bar, tap the IME switcher and then select your desired keyboard from the dialog box that popped up.
Thankfully, Google has made this process easier and quicker in Lollipop by moving the IME switcher to the navigation bar. Now, when you are in an app using the keyboard, the IME switcher icon will automatically show up on the bottom right of the navigation bar. Simply tap on it, select the keyboard you like and type away!
Use Android Beam to send any file
Google introduced Android Beam with Ice Cream Sandwich allowing you to quickly share content with other devices via NFC by simply tapping the back of the two devices together. Frustratingly though, Android Beam could not be used to send files, except for images, to other devices.
Google has fixed this gripe in Lollipop by adding an option to send any file via Android Beam. Simply select the files you want to send, tap on the Share menu and select the Android Beam option. Then proceed to bump the back of both Android devices to initiate the file transfer.
Smart Lock is a nifty little feature introduced by Google in Lollipop. Before you can enable this feature though, you will have to enable some kind of lockscreen security, including a PIN or Password protection. Then, you can set your device up to automatically unlock when it is paired to a trusted Bluetooth device like your car’s Bluetooth stereo.
However, you can also set up Smart Lock to have ‘trusted faces’ so that it will automatically unlock the device when you are using it. Head over to Settings -> Security -> Smart Lock and enable the trusted face feature.
Once enabled, your Android device will scan for a trusted face when you press the power button first. In case it detects a trusted face, it will automatically unlock to your homescreen. If not, it will prompt you to enter a PIN or password.
Tap & Go
Google has made it extremely easy to switch between Android devices for users by including Tap & Go. When you are setting up your new Android device running Lollipop, simply touch the back of the device to your existing Android device to quickly copy over your Google accounts, your backed up apps and its data. The pairing process happens over NFC, which is present in most Android devices released in the last couple of years. The 2013 variant of the Moto G is the only notable device that lacks NFC though.
Google has given the notification system in Android a major revamp with Lollipop. It has also added ‘Interruptions,’ a feature that is very similar to the Do Not Disturb mode in iOS 8.
Under the Interruptions option in Sound & notification, you can specify the ‘priority interruptions’, which can include calls and messages from a particular group of contacts, Events & reminders and more. You can either manually switch your notifications to Priority mode by pressing the Volume down button and selecting Priority, or specify the days and time when it should automatically kick in.
Notifications on lockscreen
Google has also given the lockscreen in Lollipop a major revamp. By default, it now shows all your notifications and allows you to interact with them without unlocking your device. You can, however, also hide certain notifications from the lockscreen if you wish to.
The option is tucked under Settings -> Sound & notification where you will need to scroll down to the ‘When device is locked’ option. Tap on it and select the option to either hide sensitive notification or disable notifications altogether. You can also disable notifications from a certain app to be displayed on the lock screen by going into App notifications, selecting the app and toggling the Sensitive switch to On position.
Increase/Decrease the animation speed
Animations are everywhere in Android 5.0 Lollipop. Everytime you touch the screen, an element of the UI will animate. Every UI movement is preceded by an animation. These animations are beautiful and don’t come in your way while quickly navigating the device.
However, if you are not fond of the animations, you can either turn them off completely or increase their speed. To do this, you will first have to enable Developer options by going into Settings -> About Phone and tapping on Build number 7 times. Then jump into Developer options from the Settings menu and change the Window animation, Transition animation and Animator duration scale to Off, or .5x to increase its speed. Alternatively, you can also decrease their speed to enjoy their beauty.
Quickly check your data usage
Android had a built-in data monitoring tool right since the Ice Cream Sandwich days. The option was present under Settings -> More where the OS provided users with their total data usage and its breakdown on a per-app basis.
With Lollipop, Google provides another way to quickly check the data usage. Simply bring down the Quick Settings and tap on the Mobile Data icon, which will show your current data usage and other relevant details along with it.
Smart Network Switching
If you connect to a Wi-Fi network that is not working, Lollipop will automatically switch back to your mobile data network and display an exclamation mark against the Wi-Fi network icon to inform you about it. An incredibly useful feature to have if your primary internet connection keeps going down or if you frequently connect to a Wi-Fi network that requires you to login first.
Bonus: Lollipop easter egg is a Flappy bird clone
Google has always slipped in an easter egg with a new release of Android. With Lollipop though, it has gone ahead and included a Flappy Bird clone. The bird, however, has been replaced with the green Android robot.
To play the game, head over to Settings -> About Phone and tap on Android version a few times. Then tap the Lollipop displayed in the middle of the screen and then proceed to long press it. The game will then automatically load. Simply touch the screen to start playing. Do keep in mind though that the game is as tough, frustrating and addictive as the original Flappy Birds so proceed with caution.
It has only been less than a weeks since Google released Android 5.0 Lollipop to the public. As time passes by, users will find out many other nifty little features that Google has snucked into this OS and which were not worth mentioning on Lollipop’s website. If you have already managed to find any such feature or trick, drop in a comment and do let our readers know.