Android LEditor: Andrew Martonik
Breaking out of the mold from previous releases, Google took to the stage during its Google I/O developer conference to announce a new version of Android, dubbed simply "Android L," which is expected to be released as Android 4.5. The name comes from the Android naming convention that goes in alphabetical order, where L would follow the previous release, KitKat. The difference this time around being that all we are offered is Android L, rather than a true brand name, which will come when the software is released to consumers in the fall of 2014. Android L is in many ways simply a placeholder name as a developer preview.
Android L comes with yet another interface design tweak, this time coming with the name "Material Design." The design language builds heavily on some of the interface experimentation Google has done with Google Now, leveraging the "card" metaphor throughout the Android L interface. Cards of various colors and sizes appear throughout the system, with different colors and shadows providing a feeling of depth in the interface. Apps can respond to touch with different shadows and ripple effects to make the interface feel as though it is being manipulated directly by users, and bold new colors palettes give apps distinctive personalities.
Under the hood in Android L are dozens of new features and over 5000 new APIs that developers can plug into as well. Things like new notification hooks to work with Android Wear, better control over battery with Project Volta and cross-platform compatibility with Chrome OS devices are huge pillars of Android L.
The first builds of Android L were distributed to developers at Google I/O 2014 with factory images made available for both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7.