I’m not so much a fan of Google’s Android operating system as I am of Motorola’s Moto X 2014 flagship smartphone. I purchased the Moto X 2014 in the hopes that the Moto X 2014 Android Lollipop Update would make me an Android fan though. Having come from the cleanly designed, Windows Phone operating system, on paper the Moto X 2014 Android Lollipop Update should have made a believer out of me.
There’s a new design language that runs throughout the operating system. Google calls it Material Design. Also included are some pretty huge updates to the Moto X 2014 notification area. The lock screen also usurps the entire Android Lollipop interface after the Moto X 2014 update. Classic Moto x 2014 features are built into the software running on the update too.
Google can talk at length about how its changed things under the hood to make Android Lollipop a better mobile operating system than what it offered previously. That’s ok, but users aren’t salivating at the idea of slightly longer battery life. They are hungry for the new features the Moto X 2014 Android Lollipop Update brings. There’s also that redesign I talked about at length in my Moto X 2014 Android Update: First Impressions.
It all starts with the lock screen. Lock screens used to be so simple and elegant. Regardless of whether you used a passcode, pattern lock or your face, the lock screen was easy to use and did exactly what you thought it would. In Android Lollipop, the lock screen isn’t just a gate keeper; it’s a gatekeeper who asks questions. Notifications are surfaced in a big way in Android Lollipop. They’re tied to the lock screen so that users can triage alerts without completely unlocking their device. The lock screen also offers access to the notifications and settings area. Buttons for quickly accessing the phone dialer and camera are preset at the bottom.
The Android Lollipop lock screen is infinitely more useful than other lock screens because Google is hoping that by surfacing all of this information before unlocking it can save users some time. I’d say it does that pretty effectively. Once I realized that all of these options were there I stopped bothering with my pin code and just did everything quickly from the lock screen.
The notification area in Android Lollipop is magnificent. Notifications from apps are surfaced in little tiny and often expandable cards that can be dismissed inside or outside the operating system. Tapping on the top area with the lighter gray are open and closes the quick settings area with a snap. Tapping on the icon in the right lets you switch users. Tapping on the batter opens the battery app. Tapping on the cog gets you to settings.
My favorite feature here would have been the simplified and easily accessible settings. You’re never more than swipe and tap away from Wi-Fi and more. Unfortunately, Google didn’t go all the way. I can’t manually put a setting on this screen and don’t understand why. To get the hotspot setting to show in my Settings area I manually created a network three times. Someone thought way too hard on the issue and forget to include some pretty basic functionality.
Every time you open a game or browse to a website in Chrome, it opens a card in the multitasking menu following the Moto X 2014 Android Lollipop Update. It’s supposed to make sorting through your different tasks easier. If each web page is its own app essentially, it makes operating from two different web apps – or any apps, really, much easier.
Swiping a card to the right or left kills the app. Of all the major updates to the user interface, I’d say this is the one I truly don’t like. My mind grasps the concept of different cards from different apps – other mobile operating systems handle this in the same way. What I don’t get is why Chrome tabs needed to be a part of this. I kept looking for my Chrome tabs and having to remind myself why they weren’t on the right side of my screen.
For a lot of people, this update is about getting the common sense features that they’ve seen on the Moto X and Moto X 2014 but could never experience for themselves. Depending on different hardware, there’s a new Ambient Display mode that surfaces notifications without an Android phone being turned on. Moto X and Moto X 2014 users have this already and they can swipe at their screen to activate it. For us Ambient Display isn’t a big deal. Android Lollipop also includes a new option for pairing an Android device with a Bluetooth device so that the lock screen is automatically disabled. Again, that’s something that Moto X 2014 owners have been able to do since September. I will say that Google’s built-in solution seems more reliable than Moto Assist ever did for automatic unlocking in my car.
Downtime and multiple user support are my surprise favorites. Downtime lets you kill off chimes for events and reminders, calls and messages on specific days and times. You can still let priority contacts through if there is an emergency though. It’s something I liked on Windows Phones and like here too. Multiple user support final kills off any reason to have Zoodles or the dozens of other kids apps for locking you device down. I created a guest account and let my little brother have some fun without me having to stand over his shoulder. You can create your kids their own Google Accounts and switch between them too.
Performance, Bugs & Battery Life
Two days after I installed the Moto X 2014 Android Lollipop Update I thought Google and Motorola had managed to get this upgrade out the door with no bugs. Almost a week of having Android Lollipop on the Moto X 2014 has shown me otherwise.
First, Google says that it’s done a lot of work behind the scenes for better battery life. I’m not really seeing that here, the new lock screen does keep me from unlocking my device a lot. Surely, that’ll boost some users battery life. Battery life is averaging about a day for me.
Along with that user interface change comes a ton of different visual effects and transitions. I like them but every so often one will stall on me. There are only two major bugs so far. One involves the Clock app not giving me a way to silence alarms in the morning. I’ve completely turned off my phone every day to get it to be quiet in the morning. The Moto X 2014 with Android Lollipop has broken the Bluetooth integration in my car. I’m getting a lot more lost connections than I ever did before. Audio sometimes speeds up for absolutely no reason too.
The Moto X 2014 Android Lollipop Update is great. Finally, the Moto X 2014’s insides are just as attractive as it is outside. Overall, like the update and anyone with the device should definitely be thinking about upgrading. Again, I’m not seeing amazing battery performance over what I had before, but Android Lollipop does actually make Android easier to use. I say download it the moment you can – if you’re not big on Bluetooth car audio. If you are, wait a bit for a fix on the Bluetooth audio issues.