clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ten Things to Know About Android 5.0 Lollipop

As Android 5.0 Lollipop begins to roll out to devices, get acquainted with some of the new features in Re/code's user guide.


Google’s latest mobile operating system, Android 5.0 Lollipop, is slowly making its way to the masses. It is available on the new Nexus devices, and the update is beginning to roll out to other models, such as the older Nexus products and the latest Moto phones. Lollipop (Google names each major OS update after a sweet treat) is a massive overhaul of the platform, and I briefly mentioned some of the new features in my review of the Nexus 6. But there is a lot more to the OS, so in this column, I’ve included some other settings and functions that will help you get the most out of Android Lollipop.

Ready, set, tap and go

If you’ve ever switched between Android devices before, you know that the set-up process can be a pain. You never know if all your apps are going to download to the new model, and you have to customize all your settings again. But Android Lollipop helps simplify the process in two different ways.

If your old and new device has NFC — a short-range wireless technology — a feature called Tap & Go allows you to transfer your apps and settings wirelessly via Bluetooth. Simply touch the backs of both devices to each other until you hear a beep. Tap OK when prompted on your old phone, and sign in to your Google account. Then go grab a tasty beverage while your data downloads to your new phone or tablet.


If you don’t have an NFC-enabled phone, or need to reset your current model, bypass the Tap & Go screen during setup, and enter your Google login and password. You’ll then be given the option to restore from a previous backup. From the drop-down menu, select which device/backup you want to restore from. Beneath that, you can also choose which apps you want to transfer over, or simply select all.

Where is that setting again?

All the major smartphone platforms, including Android, offer a quick-access menu for frequently used settings, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and screen brightness. But trying to find a more specialized feature like font size can be like a scavenger hunt. To make it easier, Android now lets you search the Settings page. Just go to the Settings menu and enter what you’re looking for in the search field at the top of the screen.

All the better to see you with, my dear

Google has added a couple of experimental features to Android to help with screen visibility, especially for those with color blindness or poor vision. Both are found under Settings and Accessibility menus. Color correction allows you to change the display based on three different types of color blindness (deuteranomaly, protanomaly and tritanomaly.) Meanwhile, another setting called High Contrast Text outlines white- or light-colored text in black, so it’s easier to see against various backgrounds.


Be my guest

Guest mode has been available on Android tablets for a little while, but Android Lollipop now brings this function to phones, too. It’s useful if someone needs to borrow your mobile device, but you don’t want them accidentally seeing your personal information like text messages, social networks and so forth. To turn it on, open the notifications drawer by swiping down from the top of the screen, and then tap the person icon and select Add Guest.


For situations where you share a device with roommates or family members, user profiles is the better way to go. It lets each person create their own profile and customize the device with their own accounts and apps. You can do so by following the steps listed above, and then selecting Add user, or you go through Settings > Users. The owner of the device always has the power to uninstall any of your apps or profile, though.

Put a pin in it

Another way to restrict access to your apps and information with other users is to use the new screen-pinning feature. When activated, the person can only use one app, and only when a combination of buttons is pressed can the phone’s full functions be accessed again. I can see this being useful for parents with young kids.

To enable it, go to Settings, Security and toggle the Screen Pinning feature to on. Next press the Overview button (the square icon at the bottom of the screen), bring the app that you want to pin to the front of the screen, and tap the blue pin button.

For your eyes only

As I noted in my Nexus 6 review, one of my favorite features of Lollipop is the new lock-screen notifications. Now, you can see and take action on all your alerts right from the lock screen. The downside is that anyone can see your notifications, even if your device is locked. To shield sensitive information from wandering eyes, there are two steps you need to take.


First, go to Settings > Sound & Notification > App notifications. Then select an app from the list, such as email, and turn on the Sensitive setting. Repeat for each app you want to remain private. I should also note that in order to get these settings, you have to have some kind of security lock in place, whether it be a PIN or pattern lock.

Lastly, go back to the Sound & Notification menu, tap on “When device is locked,” and select “Hide sensitive notification content.” There’s also an option to disable all notifications.

In these devices we trust

Android Lollipop offers new ways to unlock your phone, including something called Smart Lock. Whenever your phone is in range of a trusted Bluetooth or NFC device, such as your smartwatch or car, it automatically unlocks your phone so you don’t have to fiddle around with entering your password. To add a trusted device, go to Settings > Security > Smart Lock.

Do not disturb unless …

There may be times where you don’t want to be interrupted at all, or only when it’s important. When you’re sleeping, for example, or in an important meeting. Android Lollipop now gives you control over that.

If you press the volume buttons, you can toggle between All, Priority and None. If you select Priority, only notifications that you’ve designated as important will come through. You can configure these under Settings > Sounds & Notifications > Interruptions, and also set a time schedule for when Priority mode automatically turns on.

T-minus X minutes to dead battery

Right now your smartphone might give you a general idea of how much battery life you have left, but rather than a percentage, it would be more useful to know what that equated to in real-life usage — kind of like how some cars tell you the number of miles before your fuel tank reaches empty. Huzzah! Lollipop does that.

To check, bring up the Quick Settings menu from the top of the screen, and tap on the battery icon. A screen will appear that breaks down battery stats, including the approximate number of hours or minutes left in your battery. If you’re running low, there is also a new battery-saver mode that minimizes battery-draining features until you have more power. To turn it on, tap the menu button in the top right (the three dots), and select Battery saver.

Easter egg

I’ll leave you with a fun one. Hidden within Android Lollipop is a Flappy Bird-type game. From the Settings menu, go to About Phone and then quickly tap four times on Android version. This should bring up a Lollipop icon. Quickly tap on that four times, and then end with a long press, and poof, the game should appear. Fair warning: It’s challenging and addictive.


This article originally appeared on