Get Ready for the Sweet New Release of Android L
By Josh Galde | September 16, 2014
Lollipop? Lemonhead? Life Saver? Licorice?
Nobody knows what sweet concoction will be the moniker for Google’s newest mobile operating system, but one thing everyone does know is this: Android L will be the biggest shake-up of the OS in years, functionally and aesthetically. This ultimately will be exciting news for consumers. But for developers, it means still another layer of permutations on top of the already crazily fragmented Android ecosystem, making it more important than ever to thoroughly implement mobile app testing for compatibility with the new Android L as well as your users’ other main device-OS configurations. Will your app or website display properly on phones running the new OS? Will it function properly? Will the experience live up to user expectations?
These are questions that need to be answered now, so that on day one, your mobile presence can bask in the excitement of Google’s next-gen mobile OS—and not stumble out of the gate, alienating users who have been loyal to your app and are counting on it to perform. Fortunately, Keynote has the tools you need to be ready on day one when the new Android flavor goes live in October/November—as well as the new iOS 8, which will go live on Day One on Sept 17.
The new directions for the Android OS and iOS share some broad themes:
- The continued evolution of “flat” visual design
- Increased integration with wearables
- More robust and flexible notifications
- Greater device-to-device continuity as users move from smartphone to tablet to laptop
Mobile Testing Solutions Essential to Analyzing the Taste of New L Candy
But the UI changes in Android L—dubbed “material design” and described by Google as “a visual language for our users that synthesizes the classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science”—are far more sweeping. They are more akin to the design overhaul from Apple’s iOS 6 to iOS 7, when Jony Ives’ flat design was introduced, only more so. The card metaphor from Google Now has been expanded throughout the OS, and almost everything about the UI has been changed visually, with new colors, shadows, and animation throughout. Touches to the screen can trigger movement and ripple effects, giving users a heightened sense of control over the interface.
Of course, what’s on the screen is just a reflection of the tremendous goings-on underneath the hood, where developers will find more than 5,000 new APIs, including new notification hooks and new hooks for Android wearables. Android L will run exclusively on ART, Android run-time, which was experimental in the Kit-Kat release but is now taking over prime time. The new OS will also debut on Android TV and Android Auto (though sadly, Keynote will not be offering real device testing for the Z51 Corvette.) “Android for Work” will be baked in (thanks to Samsung’s contribution of Knox software), so users can keep their business life secure and separate from their private, personal smartphone activity.
The L Candy Impact on IT
So, big exciting changes to be sure. What does that mean for you as a developer? First, you’ll need to make a projection of how much of your user base will embrace the new operating system and how quickly. Looking at your current users and their distribution among previous Android Os's should give you a good indication of what to expect, though the excitement around this release is greater than it’s been in some time, so it’s likely adoption will be more enthusiastic than for a typical incremental Android release.
Mobile App Testing Tools for Lollipop, Lemonhead, Life Saver, and Licorice
Keynote’s Mobile Testing solution provides direct, on-demand access to the largest library on of real mobile devices on the planet. And we’re going to be ready Day One. Keynote has planned support to update our existing device library with Android L to include the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, Nexus 5, HTC One M8, and the LG G3. We also plan to support new devices coming out in the market including the Nexus 6 and 8, so you can test your apps using the real OS on real devices, which is the only way to know how they’ll behave for users. Keynote also has devices available running the major earlier releases of Android, as well as tools to help you select a test pool of devices that will reflect the distribution of devices and OSs in your user base—also including iOS 8 which, if past experience is an indicator of future performance, Apple users will rapidly adopt.
So today, you can test how your app looks and feels in the new "Material Design" scheme. If you’re leveraging the new notification functionality, you can check to make sure it’s working the way you intend it to. Same for the new “recents” feature, or any of the other Android L functionality you’re incorporating. With Keynote, you can see exactly how your app will behave on a real device in a user’s hands, so there won’t be any bad surprises when they make the upgrade.
Last, but certainly not least, monitoring your app’s ongoing performance is vital to maintaining a satisfactory user experience, and Keynote can help you put an implement a mobile app monitoring solution as well.
It’s a great time to be an Android fan, and I, for one, am eagerly looking forward to seeing how the now OS looks and works on Samsung and other devices. And personally, I’m voting for Android “Lemonhead.” What’s your favorite L-candy?