The new Android update for 2014 may arrive as Android 4.5 or Android 5.0, depending how big the change is and what Google is planning to show off. One rumor suggests this jump from KitKat will land on Lollipop for the friendly name that Google gives to a new version of Android.
Google I/O 2014 kicks off in late June, and this event is one area where the company announced new versions of Android, but a rumor and recent changes to how Google handles update timing and improves apps independent of Android updates like it did during Google I/O 2013 and more recently with the new Android Camera app.
The latest Android 4.5 release rumors suggest Google is planning to show off the new version of Android at a Nexus event in July, and will leave the focus of Google I/O on software and services outside of a major release. According to a report in February Google plans to announce the Nexus 8 and Android 4.5 in July. This is possible, and it could leave room for another jump in the Android release cycle later this year timed with a Nexus 6.
The Android 4.5 release may also break root apps, according to a report from a well-known root app developer in late January, but there is still time for this to change and potential fixes.
New Look for Android 4.5
The Android 4.5 release could bring a flatter look for the system and several new looks for key apps like Gmail and Google+. A series of leaks from Android Police show a new look for icons that could arrive in Android 4.5.
In a screenshot and comparison we see how Google is potentially changing the Android icons in a new version of Android to more closely match the web. The confusing part about this leak is that the new icons don’t completely match the web, but they do match icons found on a Google Partner site on the web. This may tip a complete overhaul for these icons on the web and on Android to provide the same style.
These potential icon changes for Android 4.5 show a new style that is flatter, similar to the change iOS underwent in 2013 and that we are seeing in many app designs and in general across the web and mobile devices. These various icons also include slight shifts in colors and look as well, but are close enough to be believable. As Android Police notes, this is leak is likely legitimate, but depending where Google is in the process the final product may change from this leak.
Further backing up a planned change is a Google+ app leak that shows a new look for the app that makes use of the circle that is now part of the Google+ icon on the alleged Android 4.5 leak. Yoel Kaseb shares a series of screenshots on Google+ showing the new look, including the two screenshots below.
The Gmail app for Android 4.5 could also see a visual change and new features. Geek shares screenshots of a new Gmail app that incorporates a new flatter visual look and subtle color changes. This new design includes more tabs to separate email and a pinned feature to sticky important emails you need access to while on the go. There is also a snooze option to essentially hide an email for a set amount of time, after which it appears at the top of your inbox.
The Calendar app for Android is also in the process of a makeover with slight tweaks that include the circle that makes an appearance in Google+. This could be part of a plan to add a standard spot for users to interact through Google apps. Geek shares details on this update with a collection of new features and a more pleasing visual style.
Overall it appears Google is preparing for a new look for Android and possible the web. Some of these apps and changes could arrive at Google I/O as individual services see updates and new features that are available to Android users immediately. Some changes might not arrive until an Android 4.5 or Android 5.0 announcement.
Google shifted to a new method of updating apps outside of major Android updates last year, but updates like Android 4.5 can bring major increases in performance and new features that can improve the user experience. Google is currently prepping to roll out Android 4.4.3 to Nexus devices.