Tap and flick your way around Android Lollipop, and you'll quickly see that the "surfaces and edges" with "seams and shadows" approach does in fact readily reveal what can be touched to trigger actions, as Matias Duarte, Google's vice president of design and lead architect of Material Design, said at this year's Google I/O. This translates into richer, more colorful apps with vibrant transitional animations and visual cues that make navigation more intuitive. It also means a shallower OS, ditching the deep, often confusing menus and rabbit holes of Android's past and placing more of what you need at the surface.
Google's Material Design guidelines give developers the tools to create a unified experience across device sizes. It's true that the Android tablet experience is in some measure that of an enlarged phone, as some have suggested, but it is clear that Google aims to improve this based on Lollipop's developer guidelines. This emphasis on uniformity is also in evidence in Google's simultaneous rollout of the Nexus 6 smartphone and the Nexus 9 tablet, enabling developers to target the latest smartphone and tablet at the same time. Material Design should extend that unified experience to wearables and beyond.
For a tour of Lollipop's new Material Design, check out our first look at Android's fresh new face.
Lock Screen, notifications, and the app drawer
Some of Lollipop's most notable improvements can be found among Android's central elements: its lock screen, notifications bar, and app drawer.
Android's new lock screen provides a quick view of unread notifications, which can be swiped down to reveal more content, double-tapped to open, or simply swiped away. You can control which notifications, if any, that you would like to be displayed on the lock screen by navigating to the Sounds and Notifications settings.
And if your device is locked with a PIN or password, you can choose to show only the top line of a notification instead of its sensitive content (defined by either the user or the app developer). As in previous versions, the lock screen also provides direct access to the notifications bar, camera, and the device's various user profiles (more on that in a bit).
Lollipop's notifications bar can now be swiped down once for a top-line view of your notifications and pertinent Google Now cards or swiped down twice (alternatively, with two fingers rather than one) to reveal Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location settings, along with toggles for airplane mode, rotation lock, and a flashlight.
The notifications bar also contains a slider to control your display's brightness and a one-touch button to "cast" (aka share) your screen with any compatible device (such as Chromecast) on the same Wi-Fi network. In addition, the bar provides access to your device's full settings menu and user profiles.
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