Android 5.0 Lollipop's Material design, reworked notifications system and advanced array of security and productivity services make it the best version of Google's mobile operating system to date.
Clean user interface, upgraded security, new camera API and battery saver mode
Still not as secure as iOS, managed profile support not active
Free to run on compatible devices
Google has released a steady stream of important, but not groundbreaking, updates to the Android mobile operating system in the past few years.
For example, Google unveiled Android 4.3 Jelly Bean in 2012 which added fairly unassuming restrictive profile, Bluetooth Smart and OpenGL ES 3.0 support.
The firm followed this in 2013 with Android 4.4 KitKat, which offered a slightly rejigged user interface, enhanced voice command powers and a reworked dialler app.
This year, though, Google had changed its tepid update cycle with the launch of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Adding more custom features than you can shake a stick at, Android 5.0 is a major step forward that completely reworks the personal and enterprise offering.
Material design and reworked app interfaces
The most immediately obvious change is the new 'Material design' interface. This aims to improve and simplify Android's interface, and make it work better across multiple devices regardless of screen size by giving it a flatter look more akin to iOS than past Android versions.
The OS is designed to have what Google describes as a "paper-like" feel where icons and windows appear like floating cards over the main UI.
Material design does this by changing the way Android displays depth, adding a shadow effect to the interface. Unlike past Android versions, where shadows used hard-coded image files, Lollipop uses a dynamic real-time 3D shadow system.
This makes shadows on icons or graphics look more realistic during transition animations.
While the change sounds small, we found it made Android 5.0 Lollipop feel significantly slicker and more pleasant to use than previous versions. For example, when moving between windows and widgets, shadows reacted to the movement and adjusted accordingly, making the OS feel more natural and dynamic.
The clearer feel is further aided by a refreshed colour scheme. Lollipop replaces the fairly grey looking scheme seen on KitKat with a vibrant, bright one, and adds the ability to coordinate tones between app icons. The refresh makes the OS much more pleasant to use.
Google has also redesigned several application interfaces. For example, the email app now displays the inbox alongside the current open message so that incoming messages can be seen while reading another email.
Next: Notifications, speed and performance