Google’s biggest event of the year is now officially underway. Google brings thousands of developers together each year for its annual I/O conference and thankfully, it also streams the opening keynote live so Google fans around the world can see all the action as it unfolds. This year, Google’s first big announcement is Android “L.” Google says Android L will have 5,000 new APIs and a fresh new design that will carry Android across not just phones and tablets, but many other device categories as well.
Android L is characterized by “Material Design,” which is a new design identity that uses shadows and elevation to distinguish layers in the user interface. All new animations provide easier transitions between apps, and they also enhance the experience when new elements appear on the screen.
The Roboto font has also been updated to better suit the new devices Android will power, such as smartwatches and other wearables.
Android L completely revamps parts of Android’s notifications system as well. The lock screen now includes a full list of notifications that are actionable — notifications can be swiped to dismiss them or tapped to open the relevant apps.
A new type of notifications — heads up notifications — were also introduced. These notifications appear over an open app and are actionable as well.
Google also added a smarter unlock feature to Android L. Devices running L will be aware of the locations and devices around them. So, for example, a phone’s lock screen might be bypassed when the user’s smartwatch is connected.
In terms of performance, Google said that Android L moves from the Dalvik virtual machine (VM) to Art in order to dramatically improve application performance. Art is also fully compatible with 64-bit architecture.
Additionally, Android L features a number of optimizations that will improve battery life, including a special new battery saver mode that will extend usage time by 90 minutes when remaining charge is low. “Project Volta” is an internal initiative that involves a huge amount of analysis, and it will result in what Google claims will be dramatically improved battery life for Android devices.
In terms of security, Google’s Android L release will support a remote wipe feature for lost or stolen phones that restores a device back to factory settings. There are also additional malware protection features built into the Google Play app store.
The developer preview of Android L will launch for developers later today.