Why Android L Is The Game Changer

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This post was published 9 years, 10 months ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.

Anybody who follows technology, knows that in the numbers Android is ahead. We have the largest user base, and that group of people is growing exponentially, faster than for any other platform. However, there are still a few things holding it back and I think L will address this.

One of the largest misconceptions about Android is that it is slow, laggy and unstable. This idea has been around since Android’s very conception, despite the evidence showing iOS7 to be much less stable than Android Jellybean and beyond. This is difference not actually new thing either as Gingerbread had fewer crashes than any version of iOS up to and including iOS7 despite being technically the least stable version of Android.

In fact, it has been found that iOS 7.1 crashes more than twice as much as any Android 4.x version and about the same as Gingerbread which is 4 years older. Yes, a 2010 Nexus One is more stable on average than Apple’s latest and greatest flagship the 5s.

I don’t find this particularly hard to believe given that the 5s that calls my family home completely freezes at least once a day. There are almost no apps on this iPhone. Just a few apps used for work by grandfather. There’s only one song on it for goodness sake. Comparatively, my Rooted Galaxy S4 running Samsung’s version of 4.4.2 KitKat with 150+ app installed, several thousand pictures and 1,200+ songs freezes… Well it doesn’t actually. So why does this problem of perception exist?

Well it’s quite simple really. The biggest problem is budget devices. Let me run through a quick scenario, one I know to be oh so true. A teenager is given their first smartphone. It’s a budget Android device. At first, it amazes them. Their world is opened up to apps, and social media.

However, once just a few apps are installed it starts to act up perhaps. If they tax it too hard, it begins to lag and stutter a bit. Their iPhone touting friends never complain of this problem. Eventually, they can get a new phone. Perhaps they’ve saved to buy themselves something new, or maybe their parents are treating them. They go into the shop, and see the iPhone counter. They pick one up. It’s faster than what they have certainly. It’s smoother and it doesn’t seem to crash as much! They have found their new phone.

Now as tech enthusiasts, that perhaps wouldn’t happen with us. We’d understand the device’s hardware limits, and know that a flagship Android device is entirely different to a budget device. We understand about Android skins, and would likely look into something closer to stock, a Moto or Nexus comes to mind. This doesn’t happen with the average user. At least not often. As far as they’re concerned Android is now to be considered bad, laggy and slow. They’re effectively saying “I don’t wanna play with you anymore! You ugly!” Whilst they embrace their new Apple overlords.

Many average users don’t even understand who makes Android. Many believe Samsung make it, as is the case of a friend of mine. Rest assured, the “you gon learn today!” conversation resulted, and they are now painfully aware of who makes Android. Others think it’s HTC, or LG. It doesn’t really matter. The point is, they don’t know it’s Google’s child. They also think Android is the same no matter that you buy. So if they dislike TouchWiz, they aren’t likely to give Sense, or more sensibly stock Android a try.

The iPhone is obviously completely different. All Apple devices, as long as they run the same version, look the same apart from tablet and mobile UI differences of course. iOS has also only ever been available exclusively to Flagship devices. And if you’re coming from a budget Android, even a one or maybe two year old iPhone is a hardware upgrade.

So, why does Android L (5.0) change things? Well it is the next step in what started with started with Project Butter back in Jellybean. That sorted out all the lag on high-end devices. But for budget phones, it was still to resource intensive. Enter KitKat with a developer version of ART and project Svelte. Svelte meant Android could run on older and cheaper systems, even if you only had 512MB of RAM. Butter made it smooth, yet fatty, and Svelte put Android on the treadmill.

Android L is going further. All the animations are at 60FPS. This not only looks amazing, but beautiful animations help make things “feel faster”. It’s also pushing project Svelte even further, promising even better performance along with ART now being the default Android runtime.

But what is this years project? Butter, Svelte, what now? Introducing Project Volta. Volta gives much more detailed information on what’s draining your battery and slowing it down. It offers a power saving mode, much the same as the one found on TouchWiz and Sense devices for years now. It also analyses apps, and reduces wake-locks to drastically improve battery life. In fact the developer preview, something that isn’t even finished yet, has improved life by over 30%! Imagine what it will do when it’s finished!

So, what have I gone over so far? Well, Android will now be fast no matter what device it’s on. Its visuals will have a major polish, which is good because personally I think Holo is starting to show its age. Its battery life will be improved significantly, and overall it’ll provide a better experience even on budget devices. Hopefully, it should definitely shut some iOS fanboys up. If it overcomes one final obstacle that is.

Updates my friends! Updates! While not being anywhere near as bad as Apple claim, nor being too big a deal normally thanks to Google Play Services, there is still a problem. How many existing devices will even get L? Nexus devices certainly, Moto devices probably. HTC have also promised to deliver within 90 days of release which is better than nothing. Ever the strong silent type, Samsung have said nothing however. Will the S5 get L? Certainly. My S4? Doubtful.

Samsung used not having enough RAM as an excuse not to update the S3 to KitKat, something I find ridiculous considering only 512MB is required which is half what the S3 is equipped with. With the S4, ART is unavailable in developer settings while the S5 does have it and so I wouldn’t put it past Samsung to deny me my L update based on ART being the new standard runtime. But with OEM’s like LG, Sony, HTC and Moto are getting better with updates most should see it, and it should make an impact.

For me, all of these improvements will make Android L the best version yet, and quite probably put an end to a lot of misconceptions about Android. What do you think? Will it finally be enough for the average user to fall in love with? Are you looking forward to L? Let us know!

You can find a report on the whole stability situation of Android vs iOS here: http://pages.crittercism.com/mobile-app-experience-benchmark-report.html

label_outlineAndroid L, crash, Google, KitKat, LG, moto, Samsung, stability
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