Jul 11, 2014 05:11 AM EDT
Developers and curious minds, start your engines. A developer preview of Google's latest version of its mobile operating system, Android L, is now available for download.
Bear in mind that the build is an early iteration and should not be considered stable. And the installation process requires a little finesse and command entering. If you have doubts but still want to try Android L out, don't load it on a device you use a lot. Oh, and the preview is only for the Nexus 5 and the 2013 Nexus 7 Wi-Fi edition at the moment. The Nexus 5 package is dubbed "hammerhead," while the Nexus 7's is "razor."
You can download the 32-bit images and instructions at the Android developers site. The 32-bit images also contain emulators so app developers can program for 64 bits, a new feature Android L supports.
The developer preview contains over 5,000 APIs, making it the largest release to date. Among the main new features is the Material Design wrapper, which completely revamps the Android UI. The slick new look seems like a mash-up of Android, iOS and Windows 8, and it includes more effects, such as shadows and ripples. Google has also implemented a deep grid system, allowing developers to easily translate apps to devices with different screen ratios -- smartphones to tablets to laptops to televisions. Material design also revamps animations, providing smoother transitions between programs.
"Material design is a comprehensive guide for visual, motion and interaction design across platforms and devices," reads the developer website.
Android L is also more cognizant of devices around it, making it easier to interact with and through wearables, appliances and more. The newest version of Android also tackles the monstrosity that is Android fragmentation. Google will provide vital updates, such as security, via Google Play directly to the Android L user, bypassing OEMs and carriers. This will, in some instances, cut out months of consumers waiting.
And longtime Android users will certainly appreciate some little touches to Android L. Incoming notifications can now be silenced, and users have more settings across the board for how notifications appear. There's also a new battery life estimator, complete with a graph, and users will be able to search for specific settings within the Settings app.
Android L also introduces a new runtime, ART (Android Runtime), setting the mobile operating system up to be more efficient and provide full 64-bit support for all the upcoming chips.
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