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Android 4.5 Features We Want to See

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Android 4.5
Android 4.5

Our Android update most-wanted list

Google's I/O conference takes place in June, and you can be pretty sure we'll see Android 4.5 revealed at the event, along with fresh hardware and other cool features.

Below are some of the things we want to see in the new iteration of Google's massive popular mobile OS. We can't guarantee we'll get them all, but our fingers are firmly crossed that some, if not all, of our wishes come to pass.

Improved Google NowGrey

Google Now is already better than Apple's Siri in so many respects. It's hardly worth comparing them any more - but one thing Siri gets right is that the whole experience feels a little more organic and personal. The voice inside your phone sounds like it genuinely understands what you're saying and why you're saying it.

Google Now is more abrupt, and the supplied speech often feels superfluous. Google needs to make its AI assistant feel a little more human in Android 4.5 - especially with the rumours that Microsoft's Cortana is going to be combine the best bits of Google and Apple's challengers to create the ultimate personal helper on your handset. Google Now already goes beyond the call of duty to give you traffic alerts, email updates and weather - now it needs that "more human than human" impact to leave its rivals in the dust.

Find out when your Galaxy phone will get Android 4.4

Better security

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ScannerThe fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S is likely to be one of the most imitated features of 2014, with Samsung's Galaxy S5 already confirmed to have a similar mechanic. However, we think it's highly likely that Google's 2014 Nexus phone will showcase this function as well, and that of course means baking such security measures into the next edition of the operating system.

We'd also like to see Face Unlock receive an overhaul in Android 4.5. It was a neat party trick when it was unveiled alongside the Galaxy Nexus, but it's still not accurate enough to be completely useful. Our phones are now packed with vital and personal information, so the mobile OS that offers the most robust security method is likely to gain plenty of support - hopefully Android 4.5 can deliver the goods.

Faster performance with better battery life

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We're going to get slightly techy now. Android at present uses the Dalvik runtime, which is the process that executes application instructions. Dalvik is what is known as a "Just in Time" compiler, which means it only processes things as and when they're needed. It has served Android users well up to now, but Google is moving to ART runtime soon.

Introduced experimentally in Android 4.4, ART is known as a "Ahead of time" compiler. It processes data just before it's needed to speed things up. In theory, it should allow for a smoother user experience and better battery life, and we should get to see if these claims are true when Google replaces Dalvik entirely with ART. That could well happen in Android 4.5.

Multi-window support

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Samsung's Multi Window feature has been part of its TouchWiz UI for quite some time now, and makes a lot of sense when you consider how large smartphone screens are these days. It lets you run two apps on-screen at the same time. Being able to use two apps simultaneously is a real boon, and saves you having to constantly switch between them.

The only issue is that Samsung's execution is a little clunky, and what we need is for Google's software engineers to cook up a more agreeable solution. Apps could snap into halves of the screen automatically when they detect you're about to switch to another process, or something similar. The feature needs to feel more natural than it does on Samsung's phones, otherwise it will continue to be little more than a gimmick.

A vastly improved camera

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When Google launched the Nexus 5 with Android 4.4, users were up in arms about how poor the camera was. Shots took too long to focus and the resultant images were fuzzy and washed out.

Many feared that LG's hardware was to blame, but a quick software fix - in the shape of Android 4.4.2 - solved the issue, to a certain degree. Android's stock camera software remains disappointing when compared to iOS and those seen in the custom UIs created by Samsung, HTC and LG. Google has to make some big improvements in 4.5 if it wants to catch up.

Smartwatch connectivity to beat them all

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WatchGoogle's smartwatch announcement is due any time soon, and its own wearable tech will be going head-to-head with the Samsung Gear 2 and Sony SmartWatch 2. As ever, it would be wise to expect Google to cut through the nonsense and come up with an accessory that complements your handset and provides intuitive features that elevate the concept above that of a money-grabbing gimmick.

We've seen smartwatches with clumsy interfaces, atrocious battery life and pointless functionality, but what we need now is a timepiece that can genuinely compete with your G-Shock when it comes to looks, stamina and durability. By bonding the tech with Android on a basic, fundamental level, Google can ensure that users are tempted to purchase the watch to complement their phone and gain the full experience - so expect Android 4.5 to come with exclusive elements that can only be used with its own brand of wearable tech.

Smarter functionality

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One of Android's primary strengths is that users can customise their experience by downloading a selection of apps from the Google Play market. Unlike iOS, Android allows users to dig quite deeply into the functionality of their handsets, and apps like Screebl and Tasker allow them to perform tricks like allowing the screen to stay alive when you're holding the phone or automatically shut down features depending on your location, battery level or time of day.

Manufacturers such as Samsung and LG have already started to bake such features into their custom UI skins, but what we really want to see is Google make them a core part of the Android experience. These kind of cool little tricks are what could make the OS even more desirable to outsiders. For example, Screebl now comes with the ability to automatically lock your screen when you slip your phone into your pocket, and then fire it up again the moment you pull it out - a simple thing, but still impressive. We'd love to see Android 4.5 come with a suite of these tricks, thereby removing the need to download separate apps.

Next, read our Nexus 5 tips and tricks

Mark

March 18, 2014, 4:10 pm

NO informed, responsible journalist should call for or compliment the provision of biometric security for any consumer authentication whatsoever whether for phones, laptops, ATMs, shopping, nightclubs ... if anything they should be calling for it to be outlawed. I'm not just talking about someone having their finger cut off to aid in stealing their Mercedes (has already happened - just search for the news article). Biometrics are simply fundamentally and irredeemably insecure and unsuited to this task. When (not if) my ATM card PIN is stolen I only have a security problem with that one ATM card, and I can change its PIN. When (not if) my fingerprint gets lifted in the future I will have a security problem with every single device and account that uses my fingerprint, because they are all the same. And I cannot change it, so I am compromised forever. We are stupidly cheering on a march into a future of nightmares for those affected.

jdanielcook

March 18, 2014, 5:47 pm

It will most likely be Kit-Kat and I hope they do a lot with the battery, always listening, and smart actions. I guess we are asking them to push many of the Moto X features into the core (or more likely Google Play Services). Biometric is problematic but face recognition has come a long way in the past few years so it would be good to get into 4.5. It would require no hardware changes either.

Scriptwriter

March 18, 2014, 5:54 pm

"Faster performance with better battery life" - This statement makes no sense. You cant have faster performance without consuming more battery.

In my opinion, Android is already fast enough, they just need to fix battery life (which is often down to OEM who designs and makes the handset)

andyvan

March 18, 2014, 6:06 pm

Not really. The history of the microprocessors show you absolutely can. Google Moore's Law.

Redmond Jennings

March 18, 2014, 11:12 pm

There's a tradeoff, but that doesn't mean better design can't boost both. My Moto G is faster than my Galaxy Nexus was and the battery is much much better.

Anthony Johnson

March 19, 2014, 2:19 am

The major matter of concern in my qi enabled Nexus 5 is that its battery gets drained quickly and if Android 4.5 with its new feature name here “Ahead
of Time” is present there in next version which emphasize the battery life then
I eagerly waiting for its launch that is around the mid of June.

Luke Cranfield

March 19, 2014, 8:55 am

I don't want to talk to my phone and I don't know anyone that uses the voice aspect of Now or Siri for anything other that messing about. Do people not feel stupid talking to their phones?

Couldn't care less about biometric security, if I wanted to lock my phone I am more than happy with a pin code.

Multi window support sounds OK for tablets but on a phone I can't imagine using it.

I am currently a Samsung Galaxy S3 user and also have a 2012 Nexus 7. The few things I would like to see are:

Stop phone manufacturers being able to add their own interfaces, Touchwiz is awful and I don't want your uninstallable apps!

Performance - The keyboard should appear when I want it to, not 5 seconds later. Something that iOS devices seem much better at.

Really struggling to decide which phone to go for when my contract expires in a couple of months.

MadJoe

March 19, 2014, 12:18 pm

By making code more efficient, you can squeeze better performance out of it with less battery use. Your comment is ridiculous. It's based solely upon flawed thinking. The problem with mobile OS's and their respective apps is that as hardware get's better, developers get lazier. They can code the same app as they did before, except they don't have to eek out every single little bit of efficiency because new quad-core phones can just muscle through their sloppy code. That's where battery life and overall performance is being adversely affected, and can be improved most.

Kasey Clark

March 19, 2014, 4:05 pm

Quit complaining and do some reading there are 10,000 articles on the web about how to make your phone more snappy. Samsung phones are especially customizable. If you're that disappointed in Android, by all means, get an iPhone. sounds more your speed anyhow.

Luke Cranfield

March 19, 2014, 4:09 pm

That's my point though... I shouldn't have to read articles to make it snappy, it just should be out of the box! Don't get me wrong, I prefer Android to iOS having used both and I'm not disappointed by Android I just think they focus too much on new features that are there more to pad out a feature list than actually being of use and not just gimmicky.

Guest

March 20, 2014, 4:09 am

I love my nexus 5's camera. Picture quality is great and focus is quick.

Guest

March 20, 2014, 5:18 am

I use my voice functionality all the time. Super useful in the car.

john booth

March 20, 2014, 8:51 am

I would Love to see support for lovefilm/Prime on the next update

João

April 13, 2014, 5:30 pm

I hate Brazil, here we spend a lot of money in smartphones. iPhone 5S costs R$1,999,00 (arround U$900,00) and Galaxy S5 R$2,300,00 (arround U$1030,00) :(

And Playstation 4 costs R$3999,00 (arround U$1805,00)

Rana

May 12, 2014, 3:54 pm

Really want to see native active blur functionality in the notifications background. I know this is very resource hungry but today's processors claim to handle everything.

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