Google began rolling out Android 5.1 Lollipop this week, and while some of the most important updates since Android 5.0 include bug fixes and stability improvements, there are a few new features that are more visible.
If you have hardware that supports HD Voice features, Android 5.1 now include support (for T-Mobile and Verizon customers in the US). Have a dual SIM phone? You can now set custom colors for contacts depending on which SIM they’re associated with. And there’s a new Device Protection feature that locks your device until you login with your Google account — even if the phone or tablet has been factory reset.
There are some features that don’t require special hardware though. Here are some of the most visible changes in Android 5.1 Lollipop.
When you pull down from the top of the screen to open the Quick Settings panel, there are a few new things you may notice.
First, you can tap the auto-rotate button to view a new animation when you toggle rotation on or off.
Second, when you tap below the WiFi or Bluetooth icons, you can view a list of networks or devices that you can connect to without exiting Quick Settings and going to the full Settings view.
Third, when you long-press on Hotspot or another icon that shows up only after you use a feature, there’s an option t hide the icon. Previously you had to wait 30 days for the icon to disappear on its own if you weren’t using it.
You can still swipe from left to right to dismiss a heads-up notification. But now you can also swipe up from a notification to dismiss it while keeping the icon in the notification tray.
This lets you keep a visible reminder that there’s an email, text message, or other notification that requires your attention while getting rid of the pop-up.
Use the volume bar to decide whether all alerts will be delivered, if only priority interruptions are allowed, or if none are allowed. This has been true since Android 5.0, but starting with Android 5.1 when you set a specific time (between 15 minutes and 8 hours), you’ll see exactly what time the interruptions settings will revert to normal.
If you use LED notifications, they’ll also now shine no matter what setting you use for audible notifications: even if they’re set to none.
Swipe down on the lock screen and you can bring up the Quick Settings view. Swipe up from Quick Settings and now instead of returning to the lock screen, your device will be unlocked (unless you need to enter a pattern or PIN to unlock it first).
There are new animations in the clock app (switch between timer, countdown, alarm, and clock views to see the icons do a cute little dance) and in the Google Play Store if you have the latest version installed (the transitions between apps and the main screen are more attractive).
Now when you pin an app, not only will it remain stuck on top until you press the back and recents (overview) button, but you’ll see a nice little graphic to make sure you’re aware of that fact.
Google has also added APIs to Android 5.1 which let wireless carriers create apps “that can perform carrier provisioning tasks” while being distributed through the Play Store.
Phones with multiple SIM cards can also now use apps that are alerted to a change in the phone’s network connection.
See anything else new in Android 5.1? Let us know