The newest version of Android boasts a revamped interface and tons of features to help you be more productive. The update, code-named Android L, has the features you expect from a refreshed operating system, such as speedier performance and design tweaks. But it also packs fresh features for business users, such as new ways to act on notifications, better security and improved multitasking. And to improve battery life, it also helps your Android smartphone or tablet run apps more efficiently. Android L, the first major Android update since Android 4.4 KitKat launched last November, is coming to consumer devices this fall. While you wait, read on for five features that make it good for work.
Some Android phones show you notifications on the lock screen, but most make you unlock your device and open the app to act on each alert. Android L speeds things up by letting you act on notifications right from the lock screen. When a new message, email or alert arrives, you can view it just by waking your phone. From there, you'll be able to take a variety of actions, depending on the type of notification. For example, you can dismiss a new SMS message or email, or quickly respond to it using a prewritten message, without launching the full app. The new functionality lets you respond to incoming alerts quickly so you can spend less time fiddling with your phone and more time working.
Setting a PIN code or a swipe pattern on the lock screen of your Android device is a good way to keep your data secure. But tapping out a password every time you want to use your smartphone or tablet is tedious and time-consuming. The new version of Android has a solution, letting your phone use context clues — such as GPS location and proximity to familiar Bluetooth devices — to determine if a password is necessary.
For example, if you set your Android phone to recognize your Bluetooth-enabled smartwatch, you can pick up your phone and simply swipe up to unlock it. But if you take off your watch — or if someone else tries to use your phone — that person will be prompted to enter a password first. This functionality will be customizable, and users can set their device to respond to other cues such as geographic location. That way, your smartphone won't ask for a password when it's safe in your home, but will ask for a password at other times. Those features deter theft, and keep you from having to constantly enter a password dozens of times per day to act on incoming alerts.
Android already enables you to quickly switch between applications by tapping the recent apps button at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. The button lets you view all your open apps so you can toggle between them with just a couple of taps. Android L retains this functionality, with some notable improvements. The list of items in your recent-apps menu now includes individual tabs from your Web browser, as well as recently used applications.
That's a useful addition for business users who conduct research and view Web pages on their smartphone or tablet, since it's now easier and quicker to jump back and forth between the Internet and other apps. And this new functionality isn't just limited to the Web browser. As an Android app developer you will be able to create your own apps and populate multiple tabs in your recent-apps list, putting everything you need to access in a single, convenient location.
Longer battery life
New features won't get you very far if your device is always running out of juice. Android L promise to be not just more powerful, but more efficient as well. That could help apps draw less power and give your smartphone or tablet better battery life during the workday.
For starters, it adds a new app called Battery Historian, which gives you an in-depth look at the particular apps that are draining your battery, and also provides a detailed timeline showing exactly when each app was drawing power. That can help in two different ways. First, it lets users zero in on which apps are causing their devices to die, so users can troubleshoot to remedy the problem. Second, it helps developers to better understand how their apps are running, so they can make more power-efficient applications.
Also included is a new Battery Saver mode, which reduces background updates and forces your phone to run more efficiently. You can toggle the mode on or off at will, or set it to automatically kick in when your device's battery is low. On top of that, new software tweaks let apps run more efficiently in general, so business users should see a battery boost no matter what.
Like any good operating-system update, Android L includes general performance enhancements to make it run more quickly and smoothly. Google says it has reduced the amount of pauses and stutters users will experience while launching and using applications. And memory is allocated more efficiently, so apps running in the background demand fewer resources — which also helps extend your battery life. And because it's the first version of Android that's compatible with 64-bit processors, Android L opens the door to even more powerful mobile devices in the coming years.
Originally published on Business News Daily.