Learning Center

How Android Lollipop Puts More Power in the Hands of Mobile App Developers

Written by delaPlex Software
December 15,2014

In the battle between Android and iOS for North American market share, Android has repeatedly placed second. Time and again, studies have revealed that iOS users are far more likely to use their phones to surf the web, play games and make online purchases than Android users. Android Lollipop 5.0 is poised to give Google additional traction in its struggle with Apple.

Lollipop 5.0 is basically a reimagining of Android’s potential. The new version of Lollipop has been engineered to unify user experience across Android-powered devices, but it has also been designed with the special needs of business users in mind. Google has essentially reworked Lollipop from top to bottom, adding more support for faster hardware and more efficient execution. With Lollipop 5.0, Google has laid a strong foundation for mobile app developers to reach higher when designing for the next generation of wearable tech, tablets and smartphones — and it extends Android’s reach to televisions and cars.

Performance

Android now uses the new ART runtime exclusively, which supports a mixture of just-in-time, ahead-of-time and interpreted code. ART enhances the responsiveness and performance of apps. Garbage collection events are reduced in both number and the duration of pauses, and because events fit inside the v-sync window, apps will not suffer from skipped frames. Performance optimization through dynamic memory allocation offers significant benefits for foreground uses. ART is supported on x86, MIPS and ARM architectures.

Android Lollipop 5.0 is the first to offer 64-bit support. Although many apps currently in use are 32-bit, the next generation of tablets and smartphones can be designed to incorporate efficient, more powerful processors, RAM and GPUs. Gmail, Play Music and Chrome are already 64-bit native. In addition, many apps are built on the Java engine that is also 64-bit native.

Material Design

Lollipop 5.0 includes an expanded user-interface toolkit for adding new designs to apps. New 3D views allow elevating elements that cast real-time shadows, even while they are in motion. Activity transitions flow seamlessly with impressive animated motion. Checkboxes, buttons and other touch controls can be enhanced with ripple animations.

The new Android also allows developers to use XML to define vector drawables and then choose from a variety of animation methods. Vector drawables retain definition when scaled, making them ideal for monotone in-app icons.

Material design in Android 5.0 Lollipop translates into apps that are more colorful and provide superior transitional animations. Navigation is more intuitive, thanks to visual cues. In addition, it provides a shallower OS, eliminating the “rabbit holes” and confusing menus that have been an unwelcome part of Android’s history.

Android for Work

Android for Work gives a mobile device a dual personality by separating personal and business apps. Sensitive business data is isolated from personal information, even if the same app is used for both personal and business activities. Android for Work is designed around three primary business needs:

• Management of mobile apps
• Support for business or IT policies
• Security for devices as well as data

Android for Work gives IT administrators the tools to manage both BYOD and company-issued devices. Apps in the launcher are identified with a “Work” badge, and IT manages the data. Company-issued devices can be configured and issued with the device owner app pre-installed for configuring global settings. Android is set to release Android for Work for mobile management servers in 2015, which will give IT administrators the ability to make bulk deployments of apps to devices and centralized control of sensitive functions.

Power Efficiency

Android 5.0 Lollipop’s job-scheduling APIs help developers build apps that optimize the life of the battery. A new command, “dumpsys batterystats,” generates statistics regarding power use to help developers evaluate an app’s impact on the device’s battery. Developers can view a history of the device’s power usage and approximate power usage per UID. Jobs can be deferred to run under certain conditions, such as when the device has established a wi-fi connection or is being charged. By batching tasks that are battery-drainers and deferring them to a more optimal time, the job scheduler reduces the number of individual instances in which the OS must draw power from the device’s battery.

Improved Audio and Video

Audio and video functions have been redesigned and enhanced in Lollipop 5.0. Among the features offered for audio are:

  • Low-latency audio input
  • Fast capture thread that only blocks during a read
  • Up/down bit depth and channel mix and resampling available in normal capture
  • Multi-channel mixing offers ability to mix as many as eight channels
  • Apps can browse media from different apps or expose their own media content
  • Text-to-speech synthesis has been improved

Enhanced camera and video functionality includes:

  • New APIs for capturing raw formats, such as Bayer RAW and YUV
  • ISO sensitivity, exposure time and frame duration can be controlled for each individual frame
  • Support has been added for multimedia tunnelling
  • High-efficiency video coding for streaming data
  • Graphics have also been enhanced.
Lollipop 5.0 offers support for Khronos OpenGL IES 3.1, which brings stencil textures, advanced texture rendering, shading, standardized texture size, accelerated visual effects and much more to both 2D and 3D apps.

Additional Features:

A new lock screen.

Notifications are now displayed directly on your device’s lock screen.

Searchable settings.

Can’t find what you want in the Settings menu? Android 5.0 Lollipop now includes a search option specifically for settings.

Share your phone, maintain your privacy.

You can now let friends or family members use your phone without worrying that they’ll see or get into areas you would rather they didn’t. Lollipop allows you to crate multiple user profiles to keep your apps, contacts and photos separate from those of other users. You can also put your phone in “guest” mode via the Notification menu.

More uses for NFC (Beam Sharing).

While before you could share Web links, contact info, directions and YouTube videos, now you can share ANYTHING just by placing two NFC-equipped Android phones back to back and tapping the screen. This functionality will also allow you to transfer all your app and settings data from your old Android device to your new one.

In Conclusion

With Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google has virtually rebuilt the platform to make it easier for developers to create more powerful, better-looking apps. Numerous features have been added with the business user in mind, but recreational apps will also benefit from the changes. Developers can find several thousand new APIs to help them design apps for Android that do more, run faster and look better than ever before.

To Learn More

The team members at delaPlex are excited about the redesigned version of Lollipop and are already harnessing its power for mobile app development. Contact us today to learn more about the new and improved Lollipop’s potential and what it can mean for your next project.