Google’s showing no signs of slowing its pace of Android development, with Android 4.0 appearing on the Galaxy Nexus late in 2011, followed in July of 2012 by the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean release that arrived powering the superNexus 7.
But, forward-looking, update-obsessed people that we are, we can’t help but imagine how Google’s going to maintain the pace of innovation in its next version of its mobile OS, Android 5.0.
All we know so far is that Google’s working away on the K release of Android, which it’s developing under the dessert-related codename of Key Lime Pie. Regarding the version number, it’s likely that the Key Lime Pie moniker will be given to Android 5.0. We thought we might find out on 29 October 2012 but as yet there is no official word from Google.
So now as we wait on official news of the Android 5.0 release date and features, we can start to pull together the Key Lime Pie rumours from around the web, with the first sighting of Android 5.0 on a benchmarking website, apparently running on a Sony smartphone. There has previously been speculation that Sony is in line to produce the next Nexus phone, which may lend some credence to this rumour.
Android 5.0 release date
Google has announced that its next developer conference – Google IO – will take place from May 15 to May 17 2013, a month earlier than 2012’s June dates. Given that Google announced Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at 2012’s IO conference, it’s not unreasonable to expect to see Android 5.0 at this year’s event.
On 31 January, a Google IO showing of Android 5.0 looked more likely whenscreengrabs of a Qualcomm roadmap were leaked, showing Android 5.0 as breaking cover between April and June 2013.
On 24 April 2013, we read that Key Lime Pie may not make its debut at Google IO after all. Apparently, “trusty internal sources” told a site called Gadgetronica (a site we hadn’t previously heard of) that Google has decided to delay Android 5.0 for two to four months to give hardware makers the chance to properly roll out Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
We’d take this rumour with a pinch of salt and add another pinch of salt for good measure, as even if Google decides not to ship the finished build of Android 5.0 until later in the year, that doesn’t preclude the company from talking up the new OS at what is, after all, a developer-focused conference.
However, the notion of Key Lime Pie being off the menu at Google IO raised itself again on 26 April when Android 4.3 surfaced in server logs over at Android Police. Those log entries supposedly came from Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 devices running an updated version of Jelly Bean – Android 4.3 – and apparently the IP addresses of those devices trace back to Google HQ. So might that point to a delayed Android 5.0 arrival?
Android 5.0 phones
Rumours of a new Nexus handset started trickling in during the third quarter of 2012, as we reported on 1 October 2012. There was speculation that this phone would be sporting Key Lime Pie, but sources who spoke to AndroidAndMe correctly claimed that the handset, which turned out to be the Google Nexus 4 would be running Android Jelly Bean.
While the Nexus 4 didn’t appear with a helping of Key Lime Pie,speculation that we reported on 21 January 2013 suggests that theMotorola X Phone is the Android 5.0-toting handset that will be revealed at Google IO. According to a post on the DroidForums website, the phone will also feature a virtually bezel-free, edge-to-edge, 5-inch display.
The same leaked Qualcomm documents cited above also made mention of a two new Snapdragon devices, one of which will be, unsurprisingly, a new Nexus phone.
That Nexus phone is most likely the Google Nexus 5, though we’d be surprised to see it break cover at Google IO, given that the Nexus 4 only went on sale at the end of 2012.
On Monday 18 March, supposed images of the Nexus 5 surfaced, with the handset apparently being manufactured by LG. If the accompanying specs, leaked along with the photo by the anonymous source, are true, then the Nexus 5 will feature a 5.2-inch, 1920 x 1080 OLED display, 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 3GB of RAM.
While a sighting of the Nexus 5 at Google IO is unlikely, rumours that we wrote up on 19 April reckon that there will be an Android 5.0-powered Nexus 4 launched at the event. Apparently, the revised handset will also feature 4G capability and improved storage of 32GB.
Android 5.0 tablets
The original Nexus 7 tablet was unveiled at Google IO 2012, so it’s possible that we’ll see a refreshed Nexus 7 2 at Google IO 2013. The speculation is that Google will team up with Asus for this, as it did with the original Nexus 7. We expect an upgraded display on the new Nexus 7 tablet, while Digitimes is reporting that the 2nd generation Nexus 7 will have 3G service and and range in price from $149 to $199.
Samsung’s Android 5.0 upgrades
Although Samsung is yet to officially confirm its Android 5.0 schedule, a SamMobile source is claiming to know which phones and tablets will be getting the Key Lime Pie upgrade. According to the source, the devices set to receive the upgrade are the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2,Galaxy Note 8.0 and Galaxy Note 10.1.
Android 5.0 features
For 24 hours, it seemed as though the first kinda, sorta confirmed feature for Android 5.0 was a Google Now widget, which briefly appeared in a screenshot on the company’s support forum before being taken down. As it was so hurriedly pulled, many people assumed it was slated for the big five-o and accidentally revealed early.
As it happened, the following day, on 13 February 2013, the Google Now widget rolled out to Jelly Bean.
On 28 February 2013, we learned from Android Central that Google is working with the Linux 3.8 kernel, which gives rise to the notion that this kernel might make it into Android 5. One improvement that the 3.8 kernel brings is lowered RAM usage, which would mean a snappier phone with better multitasking.
Android Geeks has reported that Google Babble will debut on Key Lime Pie. Babble is, apparently, Google’s in-development cross-platform service and app with the aim of unifying its various chat services which include Talk, Hangout, Voice, Messenger, Chat for Google Drive and Chat on Google+.
Android Geeks’ source also said that Google Babble will be supported by devices running Android 2.3 and above, which would make sense given that Google will want as many people as possible on the platform.
A screenshot that we were sent from a Google employee on 8 Aprilconfirms that not only is this unified chat service on the way, but that it is now called Google Babel not Babble. Babel will come with a bunch of new emoticons and Google+ built-in so you can jump from Babel chat to hangout. A leaked Google memo on 10 April provided a few more juicy details including talk of a new UI and synced conversations between mobile and desktop.
Following an 18 April tear-down of the Google Glass app MyGlass by Android Police, it now looks as though there may be an iOS Games Center-like service coming to Android 5.0.
Android Police found references in the code to functionality that doesn’t exist in Glass, which suggests that developers accidentally shipped the full suite of Google Play Services with the Android application package.
The files in the package contained references to real-time and turn-based multiplayer, in-game chat, achievements, leaderboards, invitations and game lobbies.
So it seems that Google Games (or whatever it ends up being called) is real, and we may find out more about it – and whether it will ship with Key Lime Pie – during the Google I/O conference. As Android Police points out “It being including in a shipping product suggests that it’s finished and freely floating around Google HQ.”
Android 5.0 interface
While this is pure speculation, we’re wondering whether Android 5.0 might bring with it a brighter interface, moving away from the Holo Dark themethat came with Android 4.0.
Google Now brought with it a clearer look with cleaner fonts, and screenshots of Google Play 4.0 show Google’s app market taking on similar design cues. Is this a hint at a brighter, airier look for Key Lime Pie?
Android 5.0 wishlist:
1. Performance Profiles
It’s bit of a fuss managing your mobile before bed time. Switching off the sound, turning off data, activating airplane mode and so on, so what Android 5.0 really needs is a simple way of managing performance, and therefore power use, automatically.
We’ve been given a taste of this with Blocking Mode in Samsung’s Jelly Bean update on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Note 2 but we’d like to see the functionality expanded.
Something like a Gaming mode for max power delivery, an Overnight low-power state for slumbering on minimal power and maybe a Reading mode for no bothersome data connections and a super-low backlight.
Some hardware makers put their own little automated tools in, such as the excellent Smart Actions found within Motorola’s RAZR interface, but it’d be great to see Google give us a simple way to manage states.
Another little power strip style widget for phone performance profiles would be an easy way to do it.
2. Better multiple device support
Google already does quite a good job of supporting serious Android nerds who own several phones and tablets, but there are some holes in its coverage that are rather frustrating.
Take the Videos app which manages your film downloads through the Play Store. Start watching a film on one Android device and you’re limited to resuming your film session on that same unit, making it impossible to switch from phone to tablet mid-film.
You can switch between phone and web site players to resume watching, but surely Google ought to understand its fans often have a couple of phones and tabs on the go and fix this for Android Key Lime Pie?
3. Enhanced social network support
Android doesn’t really do much for social network users out of the box, with most of the fancy social widgets and features coming from the hardware makers through their own custom skins.
Sony integrates Facebook brilliantly in its phones, and even LG makes a great social network aggregator widget that incorporates Facebook and Twitter – so why are there no cool aggregator apps as part of the standard Android setup?
Yes, Google does a great job of pushing Google+, but, no offence, there are many other more widely used networks that ought to be a little better “baked in” to Android.
4. Line-drawing keyboard options
Another area where the manufacturers have taken a big leap ahead of Google is in integrating clever alternate text entry options in their keyboards. HTC and Sony both offer their own takes on the Swype style of line-drawing text input, which is a nice option to have for getting your words onto a telephone. Get it into Android 5.0 and give us the choice.
UPDATE: Google heard us and this feature appeared in Android 4.2.
5. A video chat app
How odd is it that Google’s put a front-facing camera on the Nexus 7 and most hardware manufacturers do the same on their phones and tablets, yet most ship without any form of common video chat app?
You have to download Skype and hope it works, or find some other downloadable app solution. Why isn’t there a Google Live See My Face Chat app of some sort as part of Android? Is it because we’re too ugly? Is that what you’re saying, Google?
6. Multi-select in the contacts
The Android contacts section is pretty useful, but it could be managed a little better. What if you have the idea of emailing or texting a handful of your friends? The way that’s currently done is by emailing one, then adding the rest individually. Some sort of checkbox system that let users scroll through names and create a mailing list on the fly through the contacts listing in Android Key Lime Pie would make this much easier.
7. Cross-device SMS sync
If you’re a constant SIM swapper with more than one phone on the go, chances are you’ve lost track of your text messages at some point. Google stores these on the phone rather than the SIM card, so it’d be nice if our texts could be either backed up to the SIM, the SD card, or beamed up to the magical invisible cloud of data, for easy and consistent access across multiple devices.
8. A “Never Update” option
This would annoy developers so is unlikely to happen, but it’d be nice if we could refuse app updates permanently in Android 5.0, just in case we’d rather stick with a current version of a tool than be forced to upgrade.
Sure, you can set apps to manual update and then just ignore the update prompt forever, but it’d be nice to know we can keep a favored version of an app without accidentally updating it. Some of us are still using the beta Times app, for example, which has given free access for a year.