Android L

The Android L developer preview is out, and we've brought you our first impressions of the next iteration of Google's mobile OS in our hands-on video. But if you want to take a closer look at the new version of Android launching later this year, you'll want to check out our extensive screenshot gallery below — we've got shots from the phone UI on the Nexus 5 and tablet UI on the Nexus 7.

Look closely and you'll even see a few overlooked features of this new version of Android, like the search functionality within the Settings app, the new battery life prediction chart and redesigned sharing intents menu. Enjoy!

Tip: Click the expand icon to go full-screen.


Reader comments

In pictures: Android L


Well it's sure as hell a breath of fresh air from the past 2-3 years of Holo-based UI.

It's getting old. Not sure I'm totally in agreement over the super bright colors though. Still is nice to have a change.

I think it looks rather nice. I am looking at google seriously. If devs keep within the guidelines and create awesome apps, I will eventually make the switch. I already use Google services.

Not sure I like notifications being displayed on the lock screen as sensitive info could be viewed without authentication. Also... the new task listing/switching looks like a step backwards. The old way with vertical 'tiles' shows a bunch at once and its easy to swipe to close or tap n switch.. instead now we have to swipe through everything to see whats open? Other than that looks fantastic.

Pretty sure you shifting uncomfortably in your seat and moaning will be more of a hemorrhoid giveaway than a lock screen notification.

from what i saw in the pictures, liked like it shows the name of who its from and the first bit of the notification... Happy to be wrong here

Hey so im thinking of putting it on my N5 and N7. even though its the preview, is it daily driver capable? or is it FILLED with tons of bugs?

I wouldn't recommend putting it on your daily driver (I.E. your phone). I haven't come across any actually system breaking bugs, but I still am not going to put it on my Nexus 5. I just don't feel like its quite stable enough for that. Other than that, it is running great on my Nexus 7. No app crashes, no OS crashes, and no excess battery drain. It still is not finished, and has some occasion stutter, but I feel confident enough to put it on my tablet which is mainly used for YouTube.

I would wait to use it until close to actual release on devices that must be fully functional at all times.

most of the bugs i find are only minor visual ones like sometimes the in the recent app list the app image is completely transparent. VLC doesnt work (crashes when you try to open it), and facebook messenger chat head conversations are transparent. this is on my Nexus 5

From what I'm seeing, it *looks* like the recent apps "tiles" now work the same way Chrome does when you click the "show tabs". Should be able to slide down and "open up" the list. The further your pull down, the older the apps you'll see. I think it will likely work quite well.

That's the point, it requires that extra swipe down, the current implementation lets you jump to any one of your last four used apps with two taps. The same action will require a tap, followed by a swipe and a tap, a step backwards.

While, personally, I don't think it will be a big deal, I do so your point. It does mean however that you will get much larger previews, and you shouldn't have to swipe down at all to get back to at least the last 2 recent apps.

Gave up on the game after a while. They made it much too hard to play by yourself, and I'm never able to do those "meet ups" because of work and the kids and such. It's a shame. I really wanted to love it.

Still no battery percentage indicator in the status bar? Seriously Google?

Posted via Android Central App

on kit kat a double drag down on the notification bar shows the %, i'd imagine it will be the same. Saves space on the status bar and doesn't take that long if you need to know the exact %...

Same here. The % combined with those bright blue icons when it was still on 4.2.2, disgusting.

Posted via Android Central App

A native option is much better than those crappy apps. Plus, the point of an option is so you can turn it off it you don't like it. IOS has had this for years. It boggles the mind why Google won't add it.

Posted via Android Central App

The design is mice looking but I'm feeling a bit of form over function here ESPECIALLY with the keyboard and notification bar

Posted via Android Central App

I have to agree about the keyboard. Thankfully, we're not limited to using just the stock keyboard. Other stuff feels (to me, anyway) like Google is trying to further "polish" the UI.

I gotta say the material design keyboard looks pretty, but doesn't seem very functional with that skin. Thankfully, in the [keyboard] settings there was an option to set the keyboard style to either;
a)Material Design
b)White (4.4.x KitKat)
c)Blue (4.x ICS/JB)

I could be wrong, but it seems as if the keyboard looking that way is just a setting,not the required appearance for the whole thing.


Not a fan of the new design either. Seems like a good way to eat up phone resources with rendering drop shadows and tracking pixel depth, emphasizing animations for mundane tasks, and whatnot. Seriously, white settings menu? It's like it's not even Android anymore. Everything used to have an engineering reason, like black menus to reduce power consumption. This seems too much like Honeycomb, visual flash just for the flashiness, not because it adds anything (and it's not even good looking flashiness). Unlike Honeycomb, there are some substantive improvements I'm looking forward to as well.

Google actually optimizes their software. Yea the older versions have bugs but Google is mature now they're not babies.

Posted via Android Central App

I absolutely agree with you, I just can't get behind this new redesign. I generally liked staying on Stock due to the fast updates and stability, but this is seriously making me consider getting a ROM so that I can make it look like Holo Light when this comes out.

The main thing for me is the obnoxious brightness, wasted space due to the new design language, and those stupid new buttons that don't tell you what they do from a glance, you know, like intelligent design tells you to do?

Posted via Android Central App

Couldn't agree more. But hey, they've got to move things around all the time to make it look "fresh" and to appear on the news, so that's the way it works.

Tried it for a few hours, was going to keep it until my phone started to reboot every 10 seconds. No matter what I did -- reboot. It was unusable. I'm back to KitKat

You would have to unlock your phone (S-Off) to flash the image, but not necessarily be rooted. As for difficulty "going back" I can't really speak to that.

I'm actually liking the UI improvements. It's kind of bright, reactive, less confusing. It'll be easier for that hot girlfriend of yours to know how to use when you try to convert her from iOS. Unless she's ugly... Then she keep her iPhone and her mediocre updates.

Posted via Android Central App

i love it. so grown and sexy. they are borrowing features from manufacturers though. that battery chart has been available on recent lg phones

Agreed. Looks like they're really taking a lot of the features that OEMs have been adding and baking them into Android proper. That's a good thing, IMO.

oems could butcher the hell out of this

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5

LOL they are notorious for doing exactly that. Never could get my old HTC Amaze to run any non-Sense based ROM without something going screwy and they refused to release the source code to help us. They make the best hardware, not the worst software/UI.

Posted via Android Central App

Previous incarnations of sense were very heavy

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5

Can't wait for Samsung's OEM of this. Will probably be an utter shitshow. Sammy was finally getting a few things right.

Posted via Android Central App

You can't wait until Samsung messes this up? So you're going to take time out of your day or out of your wallet to see for yourself how Samsung is going to mess this up, right? Okay. Cool story, bro!

Posted via Android Central App

I think it will really compliment Samsung's designs actually, especially the flat look that they are going for.

Posted via Android Central App

I've been running it for most of the day. Though I do like the design, I'm having problems with things like WiFi hotspot, MMS, and a few apps don't seem to be supported yet. Completely understandable, given its only been out for a few hours. But I'll have to flash back to my KitKat backup later this evening.

Posted via Android Central App

It totally looks like a complete ripoff of Windows Phone.... /s

Seriously.... This looks nothing at ALL like Windows phone.

Got Nexus?

I am serious. I don't see any exact resemblance to WP. It is going more in the flat direction, but still doesn't look anything like it.

Got Nexus?

Just because something is flat doesn't automatically mean it looks like windows phone. This really doesn't look like wp at all. Wp's design is heavily focused on typography, where as material is focused on layers, colors, shapes, shadows, and animations.

Posted via Android Central App

Windows Phone's design is a lot more than just "flat". Android (and iOS for that matter) having been moving towards "flatter" UI's for the past year or so. This is basically Google bringing the same design language that they've been using in their apps lately to the OS itself. It looks like the "cards" design language is here to stay, at least for now.

I don't like the white menu screens. Don't know about the task switcher either. Looks nice but will it function better? Idk..

Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5

My main deal is Android L will need a LOT of work (yes I know the preview was just released today) battery percentage, notification bar, sort of lock screen still getting used to swipe up and not anywhere' and adding an option to add lines to the keyboard, and last adding a list view to the settings app

My 2 cents

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5

I friggin HATE those white screens! A dark theme needs to be an option. If you're in a dark room (theater), vehicle, airplane, or cockpit (like I am on some evening and night flights), that bright light is going to adversely affect your night vision. Come on Google. Give us an option. Don't be so draconian in your decision for the "bright" look. Offer something like a "night" mode or a "dark" theme.

There at plenty of 3rd party launcher for that but I totally hear what you're saying

Posted via Android Central App

That's not really what he's implying, what he's asking is for a mode that would have a flag that would tell properly made apps to use dark colors instead. People have been asking this forever, as many people (myself included) much prefer the darker look to this obnoxiously bright and colorful look.

Posted via Android Central App

I like this. Now if they can make a nexus with SD card support and has a battery of at least 3000 mAh I'm sold.
Posted via Android Central App

SD card support will never happen, they've listed their reasons multiple times, and tech website websites (this one included) have written on it before. Just in case you don't want to go read up on it yourself, here's the gist of why. *Deep Breath*

Consumers really like consistency, so they get mad when random things are way slower than the rest. SD cards would do just that, as they are way slower than the internal storage, so anything that had to come off of them would be instantly noticeably slower. People like you and me might not care and will know the reason, but the general public won't, and when they complain, their iPhone buddies will tell then how iOS never has that problem and that it's because they're on Android, so they switch away because iOS must be better.

The next sore point is permissions, or the lack thereof on SD cards due to the format they all come in. And while yes, they can be reformatted to a different format that supports permissions, that would make it no longer work with many other devices that use SD cards, and so then there would be this big fuss about how using your SD card on Android locks it down to only working on Android, which again, would cause problems. You might be asking yourself, "why do permissions have anything to do with this?" The reason would be, is that anything that is supposed to be secure can't be due to there being no permissions, as anything could access the information, and profiles on tablets and some phones also wouldn't work properly.

And lastly, you might be asking, "Why can't you just use SD cards for non-sensitive data, like photos and videos?" Well, this would also cause problems, as if someone filled up their main storage, they would be wondering why they couldn't just install anything onto their SD card that has like 30 gigs left or something, which would cause confusion again, which is something they want to avoid at all costs.

So there you have it, due to those issues, plus some I probably forgot about, Google decided that SD cards weren't worth it. As a side note, this is also probably why Apple never had SD cards either. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Posted via Android Central App

And yet their Android One project includes an SD card slot as part of the reference hardware.

Sorry, Google's justifications against SD cards have always been bullshit (I don't think Apple has even tried to explain their reasons, their insane markup for storage upgrades speaks for itself). If you don't like them personally, it's as easy as never putting one in the slot. Problem solved.

I'm pretty sure Google views SDCards as a necessary evil on a sub-$100 device, since they know that they will have next to nothing for internal storage. Doesn't mean that they wouldn't prefer flagship devices not have them, for all of the reasons Dehaha1 listed. Beyond potentially making the device slow, they are a big vector risk for malware.

Those are all fair points, but what I don't understand is isn't the Nexus targeted at the more technically inclined crowd? I just find it hard to wrap my head around when most of the points are about accessibility, yet all the flagship Android phones targeted at the mainstream consumer have them, but the developer/techie device doesn't. SD support isn't a big deal to me, never needed it and probably never will, but I just wanted to make an observation.

Nexus is Google's way of saying "this is what we think devices should be like". They were, initially intended as developer phones so that dev's and OEM's could test apps and custom firmwares against a "basic" hardware running pure Android.

Their popularity made them develop into something more. Event, then, Google doesn't like SD cards for all the reasons Dehaha1 pointed out, so they're not going to include them in their "reference" devices, but that doesn't stop the OEM's from putting them in their anyway. If the OEM's think SDCard capability will help sell devices, they'll put them in there regardless of what Google thinks.

Visually (and also performance wise) I doubt anything can approach Sense 6. Thats my opinion - but I like the fact that Google is not sitting on its laurels and keeps changing things up in new and interesting (if not always popular) directions

I really like the new direction, very seamless to use. Feels a lot more up to date and slick. It's very fast even as a preview. I'm using it as a daily driver and no problems have popped up yet other than one or two random apps not working but I can cope with that, it's only going to get better.

I dont like the colors! Looks more of a circus and lack of serious business! Most screens are like the 3rd party launchers. I dont like the keyboard either mostly because i dont know where one button ends and the other begins.makes ur fingers clumsy and keyboard confusing! Bad move. I think now this will increase ram and gpu consumption. Battery backup will worser with so many white backgrounds! Ofcourse a white screen drains more battery than a black one, thats the reason i was always a fan of vanilla android.

Posted via Android Central App

A white screen will only drain more battery on an OLED screen, not an LCD. I do agree about the keyboard, though. At least that's very easy to swap out.

I'm not too fond of the color choices they seem to be going with here in L. I left IOS when 7 was first announced because of them and it looks a lot like the same pastel crap to me.

Posted via Android Central App

Fortunately, Android makes it easy to swap out the launcher, and many of the 3rd party launcher provide the ability to completely re-theme the way everything looks, so you're not even "stuck" with how those look. Check out Nova launcher, or one of the others. Personally, I use Action Launcher, because I like the app drawer sliding in from the left, but that's just me. There's plenty to explore and installation works just like any other app. After you install one, the next time you hit the "Home" button, Android will ask which launcher you want to use.

I like the overall design (two column settings menu? Yes, please!). The icons in the status bar strike me as more mature, and I like the idea of rolling the Now style cards into the Notification Shade.

But I'm still perplexed by the idea of a Quick Settings Menu. Why not just make a series of toggles that sit in the Notification Shade itself a la TouchWiz or PowerToggles? It's one of the things that OEM skins do right. I'm also not sold on the color scheme. The white is too harsh, and the pastels aren't doing it for me.

That Notification Shade is the one and only reason I won't use a Samsung TouchWiz device. It takes up WAY too much room for something so infrequently used.

I agree that Samsung's implementation is roughly twice as big as is necessary; I feel like PowerToggles does it better. It's their presence that I appreciate.

I access the Notification Shade to turn on WiFi, Bluetooth, or the flashlight fairly regularly. Getting to those options (without PowerToggles) with only your left hand is a pain.

The quick toggles on Samsung devices aren't *that* bad. At least, not the ones I've used (Note 2/3). i do like how Google has made them initially hidden, with just an extra swipe down to get to, though. They're still there, but not taking up space unless you actually want to use them.

Overall I think it's going in the right direction but Google's color pallet still sucks to me. The navigation buttons need more attention and I'd love an alternative dark theme across the UI. I'm curious to see how OEM's integrate this into their skins.

Did all the prominent software designers go to the same one or two universities; OR are the premier design colleges in the world influenced by the exact same small group of people? I'm serious about that. The designs throughout all of software, system agnostic, is beginning to become homogenized. It seems to me that this decade all the prominent designers think eerily alike much too alike to be coincidence.

None of it is horrible but with all software gravitating to the same design it gets staid incredibly quickly.

Just to preempt "It looks nothing like (insert name)!" I am not saying Android now looks identical to Apple or Windows Phone or whatever. There are differences however as a whole the design language is becoming very similar as the new lead designers are finally seeing their influence in fullness.

You're not wrong about the similarity. I think we're reaching a point in the mobile space where designers are trying to do away with the things that tried to make mobile feel "familiar" since we're all pretty well familiar with mobile now. It's like iOS removing all the wood and felt background textures in iOS 7. Android has always been a fairly minimalist (or "flat" if you prefer) UI, so this isn't a *huge* departure like iOS 7 was for Apple. That said, it feels like Google is really trying to polish their UI and make it more consistent with the "card" design (ie: Google Now) they've been putting into their apps for a while now.

I can't wait to use L, but I think it'll take some time to get use to the new look, which is normal for me.

Posted via AC App on HTC One

I'm 3 years on Android already and I honestly think that this MATERIAL DESIGN is just a piece of shit. Awkward and overused colors, white backgrounds and menus (think about using your phone at night), and nothing serious here, this design looks childish to me. ICS Holo has made Android look superb, and I don't care if it's got boring or anything. I hope biggest CM ROMs will get an option to get rid of this awful design, or I'll stick with SlimKat forever. And just FYI, I don't like KK to much either, JB was the last version with nice design.

And please don't tell me about 3rd party launchers, I've started to use them before you even get to Android from iOS. They cannot change design of the system, just home screens.

- Heavily disappointed long time Android user.