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Android 5.0 deep-dive review: Exploring Lollipop's many layers

JR Raphael | Nov. 17, 2014
Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop release is all about the platform's move into maturity.

All sorts of sharing

Just a few more features to cover before we wrap things up — and they're all related to the subject of sharing.

The biggest is multiuser support, which gains a few new tricks with the Lollipop release. Multiuser support has actually been available for Android tablets since 2012, but with Lollipop, it spreads to phones as well. That means you can allow your significant other, child or friends to have their own separate home screens, apps, settings and data within a single device, which is a wonderful option to have.

With phones, you can choose whether secondary users will be able to make calls and send texts — via your number — or, in what seems like a more likely scenario, be limited to using the phone only as an Internet device.

(I should note that the feature has been pretty glitchy on my Nexus 6 review unit; I'm able to test the basic functionality, which works as promised, but the phone often acts erratically when I'm adding a secondary account or switching between accounts. This is pretty clearly the result of a bug and something I have to imagine will be fixed in short order — Google is aware of the issue and has confirmed that the phone will be receiving a software update of some sort within the coming days — but as of now, it does feel somewhat unfinished on the phone front.)

In addition to the full-on multiuser support, Lollipop offers a new "guest mode" that allows you to create a temporary space so that someone can use your device without signing in or gaining access to any of your stuff.

And if you want something a little less involved, Lollipop provides a third option called "screen pinning." Once you've enabled it in the system settings, you just tap the Recent Apps key and then tap a pushpin icon that appears on the most recent card in the list. That'll lock that app to your screen so that anyone using your phone can use that app and nothing else (which is most effective, of course, if you set a pattern, PIN or password to secure the device).

One final sharing-oriented feature that warrants a mention is an expanded version of Android Beam. In addition to being able to share links and contacts by touching two devices together back-to-back, as has been available in Android for quite some time, you can now share any type of file — an image, a document or practically anything else imaginable — simply by using the standard system Share command and then selecting "Android Beam" from the list of options. Once you've done that, you just tap your device to the back of another Android device and a wireless transfer will instantly begin.


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