A new version of the Android operating system is almost certainly in the works at Google, and is expected to make an appearance later this year – potentially at Google’s I/O conference. Early reports suggest that although it may look a lot like Android 4.4 KitKat, it will streamline many of Google’s integrated apps, change icon styles and gain several new features.
We’re keeping an eye on all the latest Android 5 rumours and will be regularly updating this page as new information arrives.
Android 5.0 name
Google has referred to each version of Android by a sweet-flavoured codename based on increasing letters of the alphabet; the original 1.0 version was Apple Pie, followed by Banana bread, Cupcake and Donut as versions 1.1, 1.5 and 1.6. Version 2.0 introduced the world to Eclair, while 2.2 arrived as Froyo. Gingerbread referred to 2.3 and Honeycomb was 3.0, the first version designed with specific support for tablet devices. Android 4.0 was also known as Ice Cream Sandwich and versions 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 were all known as Jelly Bean.
Google was expected to call Android 4.4 Key Lime Pie, but a tie-in with Nestle saw version 4.4 go by KitKat instead. That leaves the door open for other companies to jump on the bandwagon, with Liquorice Allsorts and Lion Bar being our two favourites, but as these are both UK-centric sweets it’s possible Google will revert to a more generic name instead. Currently, lollipop, lemon meringue and Lime Pie are the three most popular rumours, but at the time of writing the official name is still unknown.
Indeed, it’s possible we won’t actually be seeing Android 5.0 any time soon; the next update could end up being a 4.5 point release rather than a brand new version.
Android 5.0 design
Google gave Android a new look with 4.4 KitKat, but avoided rolling it out to every device by making it specific to the Nexus 5 smartphone. The next version of Android is expected to go further, bringing changes to all devices. These changes could involve tweaks to the layout, design and appearance of the home screen, settings menus, pull-down notifications bar and app drawer, but so far we haven’t seen much in the way of pre-release leaks.
According to AndroidPolice, a set of leaked icons show a revised look that will appear first on the next version of Android. They share a lot in common with the current crop of icons used on Google’s websites, but differ from the existing Android icons, and are apparently being developed under the codename “Moonshine”.
So far, there are new icons for Google Play Music, Books, Movies and Games, Calendar, People, Chrome, Maps, Google+, Gmail, Hangouts, Camera, YouTube and the Play Store. The images above and below show the current web icons on the left, current Android icons in the middle and proposed new icons on the right. They are significantly flatter and more closely follow Google’s own guidelines for designing icons, which further solidifies the rumour.
A further leak came when Google accidentally tweeted a picture of a revised dialler app from one of its own official Android accounts, which ditches the dialler icon and replaces the grey menu bar with a blue one, although there’s no matching dialler icon from the original leak to verify whether the colour matches. It certainly corresponds to existing apps, including the Keep note-taking app which has a yellow menu bar to match the yellow icon.
The current Android dialler on the left, with the leaked updated version of on the right
Whether these icons will arrive as part of Android 5.0, or will form an updated Google Experience launcher specifically for Nexus devices, remains to be seen.
Android 5.0 64-bit compatibility
With Apple already supporting the 64-bit chips found in the latest iPad and iPhonewith a 64-bit build of iOS 7, it is widely expected that Google will update Android to support 64-bit processors in the next update in order to compete.
Both Qualcomm and Intel have already developed 64-bit systems-on-chip (SoC), but until Google adds 64-bit support to the operating system these new pieces of silicon won’t be able to take advantage of their processing power.
64-bit chips and 64-bit operating systems are able to address more memory, meaning we could begin to see smartphones and tablets with 4GB or more RAM once Android supports it. Unfortunately, it could also mean fragmenting Android even further than it already is, as certain apps could be written to only work on a 64-bit device.
Android 5.0 release date
Although it’s still far from certain, Android 5.0 is expected to arrive on the 25th of June – the same day as Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco. It will likely launch alongside Android Wear, a customised version of the operating system designed specifically for wearables including the LG G Watch and Moto 360.
That doesn’t mean it will appear on customer smartphones and tablets on the 25th, however; it will likely appear first on a new Nexus device, possibly the Nexus 8 or Nexus 10 2, before rolling out to other Nexus and Google Play edition devices. Manufacturers are usually at least a month or two behind Google when it comes to adding the latest version of Android to their new phones, so it could be September or October before we see the first Samsung, Sony or HTC Android 5.0 phones on sale.
Once the files are made available to manufacturers they can begin updating their handsets with Android 5.0, but with phone networks having final approval it could be months before your particular phone gets an update – if it gets one at all.