Google announced the preview of its latest version of Android today at its I/O developer conference. Google isn’t yet ready to give the newest version of Android a name, instead calling it the “L” preview (Google names version of Android in alphabetical order after tasty desserts).

The biggest change for the “L” version of Android will be a completely new design and user interface that Google calls “material design.” The new design allows developers to build apps that will work for every size screen without having to code for individual smartphones and tablets. Animation, typography, color, design components and layout are the featured changes of the “L” preview of Android.

Google’s head of Android engineering Dave Burke showed off some of the new user experience and elements of material design in Android “L” including new material themes and animation capabilities, 3D views with real time shadows, and shared “transition elements” that assist in switching from one app to another.

Here are some other features of Android “L” that you need to know.

Design, Performance And 64-Bit

Sundar Pichai, chief of Google's Android division, introducing the L Developer Preview.

Android “L” enhances the notification in the operating system as well including new lockscreen, prioritized and “heads up” notifications. 

“L” also introduces new authentication system for Android smartphones and tablets called “personal locking.” It recognizes when a smartphone is in a trusted environment by noting if it is near the Android Wear smartwatch it is paired with.

Google updated the mobile Web experience in “L” as well, employing the themes of material design in the Android Chrome browser. Animation for material design works at 60 frames per second, giving it a smoother appearance.

Chrome’s “recent pages visited” will be more card-like in “L,” rather than appearing like browser tabs. The stacked card style of the recent pages visited includes apps as well, blurring the distinction between apps and the Web.

App indexing—Android deep linking—that was announced with Android KitKat 4.4 in October 2014, has been updated for the “L” preview allowing users to search through a browser but directly open an app. App indexing is being opened up to all 3rd party Android apps as of today.

Android Runtime—ART—is officially replacing Dalvik as the compiling engine in “L” as ReadWrite reported last November. ART supports ahead-of-time (AOT) and just-in-time and interpreted compiling. ART supports ARM, x86 and MIPS computer processors.

Android is finally gong 64-bit with ARM processors, as Apple did when it announced the iPhone 5S last year. 64-bit Android has increased addressable memory space, cross platform support and doesn’t require modification in Java. 

Graphics performance in Android has been improved in “L” with new tessellation and computer and geometry shaders to bring videogame quality graphics to smartphones and tablets. 

The battery support in Android “L” for battery life called Project Volta that features a variety of functions to help apps cut down on battery use.

The Android “L” software developer kit will be available from at developer.android.com starting tomorrow. 

Lead image by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

dan rowinski

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