Android Lollipop Features You Should Be Using Right Now

A built-in flashlight, more control over notifications, and more

Android Lollipop (5.0) added a lot of useful features, but have you tried all them out? If you've updated your phone to this version of Android, you've likely noticed the more obvious changes to the interface and navigation, but have you tried out Smart Lock or Tap and Go? What about the new, sanity-saving notification settings?

The information below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Android Lollipop (5.0O Update Complete on an Android phone
Lifewire / Marina Li

Got Multiple Android Devices?

In addition to phones and tablets, Android Lollipop works on smartwatches, TVs, and cars; and all your devices are linked to each other. When listening to a song, viewing photos, or searching the web, start the activity on one device, say your smartphone, and pick up where you left off on your tablet or Android watch.

You can also share your device with other Android users with Guest mode. Guests can log into their Google account, make phone calls, send messages, and view photos and other saved content. They can't, however, access any of your personal information.

Extend Battery Usage and Manage Power Usage

If the battery runs out of juice on the go, the new battery saver feature can extend battery life by up to 90 minutes, according to Google. Also, the Battery Settings show how much time until the device is fully charged when it's plugged in, and the estimated time left until you need to recharge. This way you're never left guessing.

Android battery settings

Notifications on Your Lock Screen

Sometimes it's a hassle to unlock a phone for every notification. Now you can choose to see and respond to messages and other notifications right on the Lock screen.

Android lock screen notifications

Or, opt to hide the content, so you can find out when you have a new text or calendar reminder, but not what it says (nor can that nosy friend sitting next to you).

Android Smart Lock

While locking the screen keeps your data safe, there are times you don't need your phone to lock every time it's idle. Smart Lock keeps a smartphone or tablet unlocked for extended periods of time, based on individual requirements.

Android Smart Lock

There are a few options. Set the phone to stay unlocked when linked to trusted Bluetooth devices, in trusted locations, and while you're carrying your device. You can also keep it unlocked using facial recognition. If you don't use the phone for four or more hours or reboot it, you'll have to unlock it manually.

Tap & Go

Have a new Android phone or tablet? Setting it up used to be somewhat tedious, but now you can move your apps, contacts, and other content by tapping the two phones together as part of the setup process. To use Tap & Go, enable NFC on both phones, sign in to your Google account, and within minutes, you're ready to go. How cool is that?

Enable NFC on Android

Google Now Improvements

The Google voice control, OK Google, has been enhanced in Android Lollipop. You can now enable or disable phone functions with your voice. For example, you can tell Android to take a picture without pressing the shutter button. Previously you could only open the camera app by voice. You can also turn on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the built-in flashlight using simple voice commands, though you may need to unlock your phone manually first.

On some devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and later, Google Now has been replaced with Google Assistant, which is similar in some ways but offers some enhancements. It's built into Google Pixel devices, but you can get it on Lollipop if you root the phone. Instead of rooting the phone, update the smartphone to Marshmallow or its successor, Nougat. The Assistant still responds to "OK Google," and also understands follow-up questions and commands, unlike others that require you to start from scratch every time.

Check out our guide to Android Marshmallow if you're ready to leave Lollipop behind.

Google continues to update Lollipop, like with the Android 5.1 release, which included tweaks to the Quick Settings pull-down menu, improved device protection, and other small improvements.