Android 5.0 Lollipop, A Gigantic Nexus 6, And More: Here's All You Should Know

Late Wednesday night, Google announced a few new Nexus devices — the new Nexus 6 phone, the Nexus 9 tablet, and the Nexus Player, a streaming set-top box for movies and games. It also made Android 5.0's code name official: Lollipop, and it will run first on these new Nexus devices.

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Android 5.0 Lollipop

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Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android and Chrome, announced the new software and hardware in a blog post. Android 5.0 "Lollipop" is the first version to employ a new design paradigm, which Google calls "Material," first announced at the Google I/O developer conference in the summer.

Android 5.0 Lollipop is debuting on three new Nexus devices — the Nexus 6 smartphone, Nexus 9 tablet, and Nexus Player streaming media device — and will be available on the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Google Play Edition devices in the coming weeks.

Lollipop's most obvious new features come in the form of visual enhancements and user interface changes, which Google has dubbed Material Design. The platform has new, more fluid animations, a cleaner design with a bolder color palette, a revamped multittasking menu, and offers new ways to interact with your voice.

Many of the new Material Design features can be seen in the recent updates that Google has released for its own Android apps such as Google+. The Material Design initiative is meant to unify the software's look and feel across various form factors, whether that's a tablet, smartphone, home media streamer, or something else.

The new version of Android gives users more granular control over notifications, with the ability to limit them in certain situations. For example, you may want to limit notifications to a few specific people when you're in a meeting or on personal time. This could have big implications for smartwatches and other wearables, where smart notifications are central to the experience.

Android Lollipop also includes a battery-saving feature that Google says can extend the life of a device by up to 90 minutes. It's unclear whether the battery saver limits functionality in any way, but considering it's just a fraction of what Samsung, HTC and others get from their ultra low-power modes, Lollipop's battery saver likely keeps you connected.

In addition to a visual overhaul, Lollipop brings over 5,000 new APIs for developers to tap into and lets multiple different Android devices with various form factors work better together. Google says that things such as songs, photos, apps, and recent searches can be seamlessly synced across various Android devices.

Security has improved, too. Lollipop includes a Smart Lock feature, which lets users designate trusted devices — such as a Bluetooth earpiece or smartwatch — to keep their phone unlocked when it's present. It's a feature that was previously available on some Android phones, Motorola's in particular, but with version 5.0 it's part of the OS.

Lollipop also includes Factor Reset Protection, according to Re/code, which lets device owners disable their phone remotely, which makes Android 5.0 devices compliant with California's cellphone kill-switch law, which goes into effect in 2015. Encryption for the phone's data is also enabled by default.

Watch Google's 'Android: Be Together. Not the same' video:

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Google has taken the wraps off the Nexus 6, a six-inch smartphone (phablet) that is essentially an enlarged Moto X. It runs Android 5.0, which is now officially called Lollipop. It will be available to pre-order from October 29, and will appear in stores/on your doorstep in the first week of November. Pricing starts at $650 off-contract — or about twice what the Nexus 5 cost.

Google says the Nexus 6 — which is made by Motorola — has a Quad HD (2560×1440) display, dual front-facing speakers, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and Turbo Charger tech (get six hours of use from a 15-minute charge). Internally, there’s a Snapdragon 805 SoC clocked at 2.7GHz, 32 or 64GB of storage, and a large 3,220 mAh battery. Dimensions-wise, the Nexus 6 is large: 160 mm long, 83 mm long, and 10 mm thick. It weighs 184 grams (6.49 ounces). It is significantly larger than both the LG G3 or Galaxy Note 4.

Watch Nexus 6 demo video:

And here's how Google's gigantic Nexus 6 stacks up to the other giant-smartphones out there

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Nexus 9

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The Nexus 9 tablet, as rumored, is built by HTC. It has and 8.9-inch IPS (in-plane switching) LCD screen (the same size as the larger Kindle Fire HDX), protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Similar to the Nexus 7, which was made by Asus, the Nexus 9 has a soft-touch backside, but it also has a brushed-metal edge.

The front and rear-facing cameras have also seen a slight improvement on the previous model with the inclusion of a 1.6MP front camera and an 8MP rear camera. HTC’s dual front facing speakers and Boomsound – which featured on the One M8 and Desire EYE and scored well with reviewers – is also included in the Nexus 9.

Google has added some innovation to the tablet and created an foldable case called a “keyboard folio” that magnetically attaches to the Nexus 9 and can be folded into two different angles. The new tablet will be available for pre-order on Friday and will be ready to purchase on November 3rd. The Nexus 9 was expected to cost $399 for the 16GB and $499 for the 32GB LTE version, but that’s yet to be confirmed.

Nexus Player

The Google Nexus Player with its voice-activated remote control and optional game controller.

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The company also unveiled the first device to run Android TV: the Nexus Player. Built by Asus, the hockey puck-shaped device is a " first-of-its-kind Android gaming device," Google says. The Nexus Player represents the official launch of Android TV, the spiritual successor to Google TV, which didn't see much success in the marketplace.

The Nexus Player is a streaming media device, the first to run Android 5.0. In addition to doing Chromecast-style streaming, it will let people play Android games from their phones on their televisions. The media player with a remote will cost $99. There’s also an optional game controller that’s a $40 add-on.

Android TV brings the power of the Android app platform to power a streaming device similar to a Roku box or Apple TV. Unlike Google TV devices, the Nexus Player doesn't come with a keyboard. Instead it includes a voice-activated remote and a visual graphical user interface. Content syncs with other Android devices, letting users start watching on the Nexus Player and finish on a tablet or phone. The device is also compatible with Google Cast, meaning it also has all the abilities of Google's Chromecast dongle.

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