Android Lollipop Features You Should Be Using Right Now

A Built-In Flashlight, More Control Over Notifications, and More

lollipops

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

Got Multiple Android Devices?

In addition to phones and tablets, Android Lollipop also works on smartwatches, TVs, and even cars; and all your devices are linked to each other. Whether you're listening to a song, viewing photos or searching the web, you can 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 via Guest mode; they can log into their Google account and 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/Manage Power Usage

If you find yourself running out of juice on the go, a new battery saver feature can extend its life by up to 90 minutes, according to Google. Also, you can see how much time until your device is fully charged when it's plugged in, and the estimated time left until you need to recharge, in the battery settings.

This way you're never left guessing.

Notifications on Your Lock Screen

Sometimes it's a hassle to unlock your phone for every notification you get; now you can choose to see and respond to messages and other notifications right on your lock screen. You can also 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 your screen keeps your data safe there are times you don't need your phone to lock every time it's idle. Smart Lock lets you keep your smartphone or tablet unlocked for extended periods of time, based on individual requirements. There are a few options: you can set your 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 your 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. Just enable NFC on both phones, sign in to your Google account, and within minutes, you're ready to go. How cool is that?

Google Now Improvements

Google's voice control, aka "OK Google" has been enhanced in Android Lollipop, now letting you enable or disable your phone's functions with your voice. For instance, you can tell your Android to take a picture without having to press the shutter button. Previously you could only open the camera app by voice.

You can also turn on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the new, 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's Pixel devices, but you can get it on Lollipop if you root your phone. Of course, if you go that route, you may as well update your smartphone to Marshmallow or its successor, Nougat. The Assistant still responds to "OK Google," and can also understand follow-up questions and commands, unlike others that require you to start from scratch every time.

And 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.