Android 5.1 Update: What to Expect

The Android 5.0.2 Lollipop update and Android 5.0.1 Lollipop update no longer serve as the company’s most current version of its new operating system. That distinction belongs to Android 5.1 Lollipop, a mysterious new update that is currently available on select Android One smartphones. Today, we want to set the table and take a look at what we expect from Google, its Android 5.1 update and the Android 5.1 release.

In November, Google released its brand new Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system. While the update delivered brand new features and enhancements to owners of Android smartphones and tablets, it also brought a collection of new Android problems to Nexus users and owners of other devices including the Samsung Galaxy S5.


In an effort to remedy some of these initial Android 5.0 Lollipop problems, Google released two bug fix updates dubbed Android 5.0.1 Lollipop and Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Some of Google’s Nexus devices remain on Android 5.0.1, some on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. Companies like HTC and Samsung have also opted to release these newer versions of Android in an effort to stave off potential Android 5.0 Lollipop problems.

Despite their best efforts, Android 5.0 Lollipop problems continue to be a problem for many Android device owners. While there are a number of potential remedies out there, many Android users are hoping for a much larger Android Lollipop bug fix update. Enter Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Nexus 4 Android 5.0.1 Update Review Early -   2


Earlier this year, Google quietly confirmed an Android 5.1 Lollipop update for arrival. The company has since scrubbed all reference to the new firmware on its websites but evidence of its existence remains. Google’s Android One devices in Indonesia and the Philippines are currently running Google’s new and mysterious update and we’ve even started to see Android 5.1 Lollipop details trickle out for Nexus devices. It’s clear that something is brewing though users are still looking for answers.


We can’t profess to have them all though we, like many others, have started to put together a list of Android 5.1 Lollipop expectations regarding the update itself and its release. Today we want to share our Android 5.1 Lollipop expectations with you. Here’s how we see this release playing out in the future.

Google to Remain Silent

The first thing we expect from the Android 5.1 Lollipop release is for Google to remain silent in the initial buildup to what we expect will be a wider roll out. We do not expect the Android One series, mid-range devices for developing countries, to be the only ones to get Google’s latest maintenance release. That would be strange, especially when you consider the problems many Nexus users are having on Android 5.0.1 and Android 5.0.2.


The update could be big enough to warrant an actual announcement on its blog but we don’t expect Google to rent out space to make an announcement on stage. The company also isn’t known for disclosing software release details well in advance. So, we’d expect it to detail the update’s contents, if it does detail the update’s contents, in and around the actual public release date.


Expect official information to be hard to come by in the buildup to the release though we may continue to see details emerge here and there as the company prepares the software behind the scenes.

Android 5.1 Lollipop Release in March

Yesterday HTC’s Mo Versi stated that Google’s next MR release, MR stands for Maintenance Release, will be coming in March. Versi is well known for his candidness on Twitter and he’s probably as plugged in as anyone is when it comes to Google’s software releases. He’s not Google but he runs the Android update show over at HTC. At this point, you can expect Google to start rolling out the Android 5.1 Lollipop update by the end of March assuming it doesn’t run into any delays in the testing process.

Nexus Android 5.1 Lollipop Release

Versi seemed to confirm the Android 5.1 Lollipop update for the HTC One M7 though he didn’t mention any others. That said, we know that there is a very good chance that the Android 5.1 Lollipop update will reach Google’s Nexus devices in the future.

Several weeks ago, it became clear that Google is least testing the Android 5.1 Lollipop update on the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, and Nexus 9. Testing doesn’t confirm a public release but it makes one likely.

Earlier this week, a new benchmark, first noticed by Dutch site TechTastic, shows a Nexus 5 model running an Android 5.1 Lollipop update. The benchmark is from the popular GeekBench database. The listing could mean that Google, or someone else, is testing the software on the Nexus 5 behind the scenes. It does not, however, mean that a Nexus 5 Android 5.1 Lollipop release is imminent. Again, the expectation is that it will arrive in March.


Nexus 2015 - Exciting Tech 2015

We expect Google to push this update out to its Nexus devices. There are simply too many complaints (lack of silent mode, anyone) about Android 5.0.2 and Android 5.0.1. Google could opt to wait for the next major Android release to tackle these issues but with summer and the fall (typical release windows for new Android updates and Nexus devices) still far off the horizon, it makes sense to tackle at least some of these lingering issues right now.

It would also make sense to perhaps unify all of its Nexus devices under one piece of software. Right now, everything is extremely disjointed. And while that might not be a problem for some people, it makes things very difficult to follow for the average consumer.

Familiar Process

We expect Google to utilize a very familiar roll out process. We expect the Android 5.1 Lollipop update to appear in the AOSP ahead of time, giving developers a chance to sideload it ahead of the OTA. We expect OTAs to follow shortly after the update is posted in the AOSP though we expect Google to use a staggered approach. We rarely see the company roll its updates out to everyone at once. The cellular versions of the Nexus 7 are a prime example of that.


We also expect Google’s OTA process to take a week or so, like it always does, to hit users of a particular device. Google slow rolls its updates to ensure that they don’t cause massive problems for Nexus users.


We’d be shocked if Google failed to pass this update on to its stable of Google Play Edition devices, most of which currently sit on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop, and we’d be surprised if companies like Motorola failed to latch on, especially if HTC is planning to move some of its smartphones to Android 5.1. Look for Nexus devices to be among the first though.

Bug Fixes

Despite the Android 5.1 update’s presence on Android One smartphones, we still know very little about the update itself.  The Android 5.1 Lollipop update is rumored to have a number of fixes on board, fixes that could quell some of the lingering Android 5.0 Lollipop problems still plaguing owners of the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Nexus 9. Here’s the rumored change log:

  • Silent mode added after missing on Android 5.0
  • General improvements in system stability
  • Improved RAM management
  • Fixes for sudden app closures
  • Improved battery management
  • Excessive consumption of network devices when used Wi-Fi fixed
  • Issues with wireless connections fixed
  • Problems with Okay Google function solved
  • Notifications problems solved
  • Some sound problems experience by certain devices fixed
  • Other improvements and changes

At the very least, we’d expect Google to bring back a silent mode for Nexus users. This is one of the biggest complaints about Android 5.0 Lollipop and it’s a feature that some companies have already brought back to their devices ahead of the Android 5.1 upgrade.

Versi’s comment says it all though. Android 5.1 should be an MR update and MR update’s typically focus on fixes bugs and performance problems on smartphones and tablets. We expect this to be a massive update on par with last year’s Android 4.4.3 KitKat update that delivered huge fixes for KitKat-related problems.

New Features

Intentional or not, we expect the Android 5.1 Lollipop to mirror what Apple does with its iOS x.1 updates. Apple’s iOS x.1 updates are larger than standard bug fixers in that they deliver bug fixes on top of new features. iOS 8.1, for instance, brought Apple Pay to owners of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While we don’t expect Google to roll out a new mobile payment system with Android 5.1, we do expect there to be some new features tucked away in the change log.

We actually already know about one of them. Thanks to the Android One roll out, we know that Google’s tacked on a new way to toggle Wi-Fi that’s far less intrusive than the current method. To get a feel for the change, take a look at the video below. We expect this feature to be universal for Nexus smartphones and tablets.

The Android 5.1 Lollipop release could bring more than that but we would not expect it to deliver a boat load of new features to Android smartphone and tablet owners. The focus will be on the bug fixes with maybe one or two surprises baked in to keep owners happy until the next major Android release.