So, over the weekend some significant Lollipop related news came out. Namely that Motorola was conducting Soak Tests for Lollipop on the new Moto X and also that LG is doing similar in Poland with the LG G3.
Needless to say I was beyond surprised in a most pleasant manner when I woke up Saturday near noon and saw that the OTA update for the Moto X 2014 had been captured. Naturally I decided I had to download the update immediately and sideload it.
Simply put, my mind was blown once I was up and running. It took a full day for me to become even remotely comfortable with Lollipop. There are a number of significant changes and that's without getting into all the little ones that you don't notice until you really start digging and then there's the animations. Oh those glorious animations which are everywhere and for everyone!
Of course I'd be remiss to not point out that naturally the version of Lollipop isn't the final one that will go out to end users, at least for those using the Moto X 2014 better said. Hell, it isn't even the latest one for the soak test, that would be the one that went out yesterday. That said, I figured since I've now had some serious hands on time with Lollipop I could share some thoughts with you all and let you see some of the changes.
Please keep in mind, again, that I am running unfinished software that is still subject to tweaking before being 'finalized' and released to all Moto X 2014 owners.
Since I'm running the OS I will include quite a few screenshots for this review with only a few exceptions for items that take place upon first boot.
Let's get to it!
Your average first boot is a somewhat tedious and length process, you've got to enter your credentials, login to your WiFi or ensure your mobile data connection is working and so on and so forth.
Upgrading though requires its own separate set of items that must be done before you can see your homescreen.
First and foremost is the installation process that takes place from within the stock Android recovery. For those without patience this can be truly nerve wracking.
For those with some patience and an interest in all things Android this can be some entertaining stuff though. Once the update is verified and all that jazz the process of opening the package and installing everything is run and there is little I like more than seeing scrolling text as something installs on my Android devices. It's like being my birthday, Halloween and Christmas combined!
I won't get into covering everything that happens, but once it finishes you're given a message that pretty much says "hey, you're done, now select from the following options..." Short story made shorter, just select "reboot device" or something to that effect. You want to see the update for yourself already, amirite?!
Your device will now reboot and you'll see your boot animation, on the Moto X this is the stock Motorola boot animation not that lovely new one that comes with stock Lollipop.
Once you get past that is where you get to the stuff you most care about, the new OS!
Oh wait, you don't just yet.
It is at this point that you will see the first of many changes. You're presented with a white window in the center of your screen saying "Optimizing apps" or something like that, I always forget the exact wording. All your apps will now be optimized for the new and updated OS. This can take some time depending on how many apps you've installed, for me the process was relatively quick as I keep app installations to the bare essentials on my phone.
Once that has run you'll be presented with the new and updated Lollipop update!
That is a screenshot of my homescreen, you'll notice almost no changes from a stock homescreen or Kit Kat. Of course you wouldn't, I'm rarely if ever fully stock. In point of fact all my settings and changes from Kit Kat came over perfectly fine, that includes having Nova Launcher set as my default launcher and Lollicon for my icon pack of choice. Not too mention running nowPaper and Muzei to change my background wallpaper automatically given the different times of the day.
It's when you start checking this or that where you'll notice some serious changes.
The Status Bar and Quick Settings menus, accessible by pulling down from the top of the screen, have changed dramatically. There's now a better Cards UI look to both and also a somewhat less bland look.
A significant change that I noticed right away was "You're device is connected to a trusted device." On the Moto X you have the option since the original to automatically remain unlocked when connected to a Trusted Device, this means no more having to enter your swipe pattern or pin or anything to unlock your phone. Of course that also meant you had that message and a symbol in your status bar showing that you were in fact unlocked. No more! Both of those are officially gone as of Lollipop! The GIF on the left expresses my exact sentiment and reaction when I noticed that most kickass of changes.
Okay, so sticking to the homescreen stuff, any other notable changes?
There is one, Google Now has the rather expected Material Design update. The look has changed, everything else remains the same.
That's the only new thing on the homescreen area?
Not at all! The dialer is now Material Design looking.
So too is what you see when you're in a call.
Any other updated homescreen apps?
Dur! Contacts is the other one that got some great changes.
As for Favorites, that's none of your damn business.
There is one really neat thing though that has changed for your contacts. Previously you had a rather drab looking thing per person. Nothing fancy, all their contact info. That's seriously changed. I won't bother explaining, since seeing in this case is much, much, much better.
Material Design, all the contact info (which I forgot to expand) and recent contact stuff with them (in this case our last few texts to one another).
Not bad, any other little changes you noticed before moving on to the good stuff?
Look who you're talking to, of course I noticed some other little changes!
There were some minor changes to what you see on your lockscreen and also the font used therein. It was radical enough that I noticed it right away. Of course, it might not be obvious to all but I live and breathe all things Android and given that I've tried custom ROMs and stock ROMs and made alterations to each with additional tools and modules and what have you even the smallest of design changes stands out to me.
So I take it you're going to move on now?
You take it correctly! Wait. That sounds wrong. Phrasing!
This is the part where we dive into the settings and everything that has changed in there, from the overall look to the changes you'll note within some of the respective settings that have some added features and changes we've never seen before.
Rather than overload you at this point with pictures of everything within Settings and then backtrack and go over it after we're going to cover it on a one by one basis. Translation: I'm going to do a screenshot of a given area and then dive into everything you see within that before moving on to the next screenshot of the next area and rinse and repeat.
Up first you'll see Wireless & Networks, nothing you haven't seen before there. Minus the obvious change to the look of things.
Diving into More also reveals absolutely nothing new.
Yay! We're done with the first part! It's from here on out where you might have your minds blown to some of the changes made by Google and Motorola.
The next area we're moving on to is everything under Device.
It is here where I am going to focus on the three that have had changes. Display, Sound & Notification and Users. Everything else remains exactly the same from previous Settings found in older versions of the OS.
Click on Display and you'll see a few added items you can enable or delve into further.
Adaptive Brightness is the first one you can enable or disable and it's pretty self-explanatory given it has a description of what it does.
I've been playing on and off with it since I updated my phone and overall I've found it to be incredibly useful, to the point that I've mostly left it on.
At home and in my room, which borders on "how much more black could this be", it keeps the screen lit enough to see the device and yet not enough to blind me in the darkness. Stepping out of my room and into the somewhat more well lit areas of the house causes the screen to change noticeably with the light levels and leaving the house does the same.
Attentive Display is the next new item you'll notice and it's another one I am already in love with as far as my relatively short every day use goes.
The display quickly dims when I'm not looking at my device anymore rather than just waiting to turn off completely per my usual "go dark after a minute" preference in the Display Settings.
Moving on you'll note Ambient Display, which is basically Google's version of Active Display. Correction, Moto Display since it was officially renamed with the release of the new Moto X.
Enabling it gives you what us Moto device users have long loved about our devices, namely you known what's going on on your phone without having to unlock it.
Of course, per the screenshot above, enabling it disables Moto Display. I for one am a huge fan of Motorola and their handful of incredibly useful additions and tweaks to stock Android, so naturally I would much rather have Moto Display pulling and doing that duty.
The last change you'll note in my screenshots is the Cast Screen option, which was also seen in the Quick Settings one earlier.
Unfortunately I've got no DSL at home again, yay AT&T! On the bright side, I spent Saturday afternoon, evening and night at my bestie's house and when we finally decided to crash around 8 AM Sunday (we spent the entire time there drinking and laughing at almost everything we said or watched) I switched on WiFi and connected to his network before passing out like a champ. Upon waking up I remembered the Cast Screen option and since he has a Chromecast that I got him I tried connecting to it.
No such luck. It didn't work. I don't know if it's not enabled yet or if it's since I'm running a not fully baked version of Lollipop, but I know that per my one time try I got nothing. Your mileage will likely vary once you do get Lollipop, assuming you do at all.
Moving on from Display we come to the next area with some notable changes, Sound and Notification.
To be honest, there's only one thing any of us will care about in here that is new and that is Interruptions.
Interruptions is very much what it sounds like, interruptions. What is this new thing?
Put simply, it's a new setting where you can specifically decide what you want to be bothered with, if anything at all, and by whom. Easily explained and everything within is pretty intuitive in regards to figuring out.
So the first big change I found with Lollipop actually came with trying to silence my phone, my ringer is never on. I basically know something is incoming either because of my Moto 360 or Moto Display. Notification sounds though? Yeah, that ain't happening on my device.
When I tried putting my phone on silent I was met with a "wtf" surprise. I couldn't. It was either have notifications sound or have my phone vibrate, both options I don't really care for. Diving into settings I found the first of what would be some unexpected surprises and the one that mattered to me was within Interruptions, that being "When calls and notifications arrive".
Your given three options, which you can see above. Selecting those three then gives you sub settings within, which it'll be easier to show you as it appears when seen on your homescreen (or anywhere else when you click the Volume Up and Volume Down keys).
None is very self explanatory. You get notified of nothing. NOTHING!
Of course you can set that as indefinitely (which you can always change at any time, unless you don't want to) or for a given period of time ranging from one to eight hours (that's the limit). Perfect for when you're sleeping and just want to be left alone completely or for when you're about to walk into a theater to catch a flick. (If you're one of those assholes who leaves their ringer on or checks their phone while its set to "blind everyone in the theater with those insanely lit display" then fuck you. You're an asshole and I hope your phone breaks and/or that you get hit by a car when you walk out. I'm joking. Maybe. Regardless, fuck you.)
The next option is for priority interruptions, think anyone you have "starred" and any and all alarms. Other things will come in, but you just won't be alerted to them per the normal method. You'll get heads up notifications, which I've not caught a screenshot of just yet, and you can interact with them or swipe them away and deal with them later.
This is my go to option, if you aren't special in my book then you aren't going to be bugging me.
And then there's all. I am not a fan of all. Anything and everything comes in and you know about it immediately. To each their own, if you prefer this option then more power to you.
Back to the Sound and Notifications menu and the other things of note within though!
Per a previous screenshot, you can see the option of Calls/messages from. This is the one that you click to determine who, if anyone, can get through to you. The three choices therein are pictured above.
Per the knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "Choose wisely."
At the bottom, last but not least per one of the screenshots above, is Downtime. This is basically what you mess with when you want to be left alone on specific days or at specific time with only the chosen being allowed to reach you. Me time for me is all week long from midnight til the time my alarm goes off. I might be sleeping, reading, tinkering or something. If you're not dying though you can't reach me.
The other big change under Device is Users.
This one is very much what it sounds like, you can now add additional users to your device.
Guest as far as I can tell and based on what I've heard and read so far allows others to temporarily sign in using their Gmail account to your device and then limits them to making calls.
A good way to think of it is with the following example: My bestie has broken his phone. His mother is in the hospital and he wants to check on her. He is an idiot who does not know his mom's number, but he does know it's saved in his Google contacts. He can sign in, temporarily, as himself on my phone and then access his own contacts and call his mom from there. He then signs out and his nonsense is gone from my phone as if it was never there to begin with.
Additionally you can add other users to your device, with them being free to do what you see above. If memory serves me correctly you can also places restrictions on them.
Think along the lines of giving your kids leeway to use your device but limiting them to games you install for them and things like that.
Moving on from there to the next section of settings, Personal, you've got all the usual suspects.
The stuff you really want to check out though, which is now not limited to Motorola devices, is found in Security.
In Security you'll find things you're already familiar with or you may have never seen before. (It's in here where you can allow for the ability to install apk files you download via "unknown sources".)
The new one though that I'm specifically referring to is Smart Lock. You might read that and think what is that, before I show you I should explain though.
Smart Lock is Google's take on Motorola's amazing feature Trusted Devices. If you've got a lock on your device, which you really should have setup, then you will definitely appreciate this feature. Trusted Devices, as originally created by Motorola, basically allowed you to keep your device unlocked when it was in range of certain trusted devices. Thus the name and all that. Be it your Moto 360, your car, your headphones, etc. If it was a Bluetooth device and you could connect to it then you could have your phone unlocked when the two were in range of each other.
Smart Lock is Trusted Devices baked into Android and it is also the home for Trusted Devices now that Lollipop is rolling out to Motorola devices.
Clicking on Smart Lock shows you the two options above, the former I sort of covered already. So I'll show you a few more screenshots.
Any Bluetooth device you've connected to your device is recognized to a degree in Lollipop, albeit from a Bluetooth connections perspective. If you're on a device like the Moto X though you no longer have Trusted Devices. Well, sort of. You have to re-add them as Trusted Devices within Smart Lock. It's a minor inconvenience, but it takes seconds to do. Click the FAB (Floating Action Bar) allows you to do that quickly and easily.
Going back out though you'll note that Trusted Face setting. Clicking on it can allow you to enable it and for those who don't instinctively grasp what this is, think Face Unlock that was around for quite some time in previous versions of Android.
You basically unlocked your phone with your face, except it's always taken awhile and any significant changes could throw it off. Basically, it was a feature that was very much a gimmick. Neat to show off what Android could do but not practically useful in every day life.
That is no longer the case! It works incredibly fast. It also has that Improve Face Matching option, which you can click on, and which will start learning variations to your own unique face. If you've shaved for instance or with or without your glasses on and so on and so forth.
I've played with it a little, but truth be told the bigger deal to me was and still is Trusted Devices. Between my Moto 360 and my car I've always got something around that will keep my phone unlocked.
Of course the one area where there was some serious change comes after that, Language & Input.
Now, you might be wondering just what could be worth mentioning in there. I'll tell you now, "OK Google" detection.
This is my second Moto X from Motorola, I had the OG one and now I've got the updated one. Why have I bought these phones? Active Display, Trusted Devices and the other feature I can't live without which is Touchless Control. Or in normal person terms, the ability to do it all with my voice and without touching my phone.
Google has incorporated similar functionality into Lollipop and it works amazingly well. You'll find it under Voice.
Once you're there you'll want to click on "Ok Google" Detection.
The functionality is similar to that of the Moto Voice (the renamed version of Touchless Control on the new Moto X) and that would be why you don't see much activated/enabled in my screenshots. I've already got the setup exactly how I want it.
For everyone else, enable what you want/need. That would be "all of it". : )
Damn, son. That's a lot of settings stuff you just went over. Got any more?
No, I do not have any more. That is literally all the new stuff found in Lollipop within Settings worth covering.
Well, mostly, the other new thing is that Lollipop by default enables encryption. At least on new devices, on devices that get the upgrade it may or may not. On my phone it has to be enabled manually, which I'll likely do this weekend.
What is encryption? Man, that is far too lengthy a subject to get really into and cover as well as I know I should. The long and short of it to be honest is that nations and governments do not have your privacy interests in heart. They don't. If they can spy on you or get info on you in any way, shape or form they will. Encryption at least gives them fuck all if they get it. Without your personal password to unlock any data they acquire from your device they've got nothing. A nice collection of 1s and 0s that their computers and experts read as "gibberish".
Some of you might have read that and now think I'm some anti-government paranoid loon. You'd be partially right, I am definitely somewhat paranoid (as many of the people who know me would gladly attest to). The thing is am I wrong? No. Proof has come out in the past year or so that proves me right. Governments don't care about you and they want all the info on you they can gather. So why make it easy on them?
First person to say "if you've got nothing to hide" I will personally track down and slap in the face. Everyone has something to hide and if you are the kind of person who has or ever will use that as an argument against me caring about my privacy then two things. 1. Fuck you. 2. Give me your social security number, copy of your driver's license and birth certificate and your banking information. Right now. Nothing to hide, right? Yeah, that's what I thought.
So long thing made simple, encryption is great. Just don't forget your password otherwise you're so screwed. Lol.
Well, now that you've got your Lone Gunmen X-Files "I want to believe" nonsense off your chest, anything that doesn't make me want to close the tab?
Depends. I mean what more do you want from me? There's really nothing further to share insofar as big things overall within Lollipop worth checking out.
Truth be told, in day to day usage you won't notice any difference from Kit Kat.
There are animations, oh there are animations. They're absolutely lovely to behold and see in action.
There's also more overall smoothness for the OS itself and as a whole.
I've noticed somewhat better battery life, largely as a result of a new runtime (ART) and Project Volta (better battery life).
The only other thing I noticed that I really liked was the handling of multitasking. Notably within Chrome. Any given tab now shows up as its own separate item when you look in the multitasking/previous app part of the operating system, you can do that by clicking the Playstation Square on the bottom right of your screen.
Like I said, tabs within Chrome each get their own thing when you click that Square button on the bottom right you see there. Perfect for switching between tabs and apps.
Anything else beyond those things?
Yes, one last thing. I've been keeping tabs on Lollipop for some time now as you all may know, outside of a handful of you already using it or as seriously into Android as I am not many people get the big deal. Trust me when I say it is a big deal.
It really did take me an entire day to get familiar with and feel comfortable using my phone after the update. It felt and looked that radically different from Kit Kat.
Or put another way, "The jump from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich blew our collective minds. It was that significant. This makes that look like chump change and we're coming from Kit Kat." That's basically what I've been telling anyone who asked since Saturday. Ice Cream Sandwich was a big deal when it dropped, Lollipop, in my opinion, is an even bigger one.
In related news, Motorola as of today is rolling out Lollipop to the Moto X (2014) and Moto G (2014)! Woohoo! I guess I'll be rolling back to stock here soon and then taking the finalized OTA update of Lollipop. Or I might just keep my current setup and roll back when the Factory Images are available direct from Motorola. I seriously forgot how much I love firing up ADB and sideloading OTA update zips and flashing files via fastboot and all that. Missed it oh so much!
But in light of this being the end of my sorta review of Lollipop and that kickass news regarding the Lollipop OTA update for at least two Motorola devices, I'd like to leave you with a little diddly called "Land of 1,000 Dances". More specifically the version by Wilson Pickett.
There has been a ton of Android related news that has dropped within the past two hours, so I'm gonna get to catching up on all of it and hopefully having today's regularly scheduled Wednesday Android Update written and posted before I leave for the day. Otherwise you can expect it tomorrow. You cats take care!