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What is the lollipop version of Android?

Android Lollipop is the fifth major version of Google’s Android operating system. First released in November 2014, Android 5.0 Lollipop was a significant overhaul of the Android platform, introducing a new design language and numerous under-the-hood improvements.

A New Look and Feel

The most noticeable change in Android 5.0 Lollipop was the introduction of Google’s “Material Design” visual language. Material Design emphasized tactile realism, bold colors, responsive animations, and clever use of shadows and lighting to create a paper-inspired interface. Some of the key characteristics of Material Design in Lollipop included:

  • Flatter, more minimalist interface
  • Vibrant colors and transitions
  • Realistic shadows and depth effects
  • Responsive animations and touch feedback
  • “Card” based layouts

The new Material Design aesthetic gave Android Lollipop a more up-to-date look and feel than the previous “Holo” interface used since Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The visual overhaul encompassed the entire system UI as well as stock apps like Messages, Clock, Settings, and others. Third-party apps that followed Material Design guidelines also looked much cleaner and modern.

Under the Hood Improvements

In addition to the cosmetic changes, Android 5.0 also introduced many functional improvements and new developer APIs. Some of the major under-the-hood changes included:

  • Runtime and performance boosts
  • Better battery life and connectivity
  • Enhanced multitasking
  • New camera and media capabilities
  • Major updates to the notification system
  • New location settings and sensors
  • Support for 64-bit CPUs

These enhancements allowed apps and system functions to run faster and smoother, preserved battery life, and took advantage of the latest hardware features. Developers could build apps with cutting-edge functionality using the new Lollipop APIs.

Release and Adoption

Android 5.0 Lollipop was first released in November 2014 on Google’s Nexus and Pixel devices. Among the first devices to run Lollipop out of the box were the Nexus 6, Nexus 9 tablet, and Nexus Player. Porting Lollipop to third-party devices took longer than previous Android versions due to the extensive visual changes.

Here is a table showing the Lollipop adoption rate over its first year:

Month After Release Lollipop Adoption Rate
1 month 1.6%
3 months 4.6%
6 months 23.5%
12 months 35%

As the table shows, it took about a year for Lollipop to achieve just over one-third market share. This slow rollout was due in part to device manufacturers taking time to skin the new version with their own interfaces. Many older and low-end devices also did not receive the Lollipop update.

Feature Highlights

Here are some of the most significant new features that Android 5.0 Lollipop introduced:

Material Design

As discussed above, Material Design was a complete visual reimagining of Android with bold, colorful, responsive UI elements.


Notifications got a big upgrade in Lollipop. New features included:

  • Priority mode for only showing important notifications
  • Heads-up notifications that pop up over the current screen
  • Lockscreen notifications with more controls and privacy options
  • Bundled notifications from the same app

Recent Apps

The Recent Apps (multitasking) view was improved with a new card-based layout and the ability to access both apps and individual activities within apps.


Lollipop introduced new security features including:

  • Device encryption enabled by default
  • SELinux enforcing for access control
  • VPN support by default
  • Trusted Face biometrics (later removed)


Better network connectivity was a focus of Lollipop. Improvements included:

  • Persistent network connections
  • New pairing model for Bluetooth/WiFi
  • Multiple SIM cards supported
  • WiFi/cellular call integration

Camera & Photos

The camera and photos apps gained several features like:

  • RAW image capture support
  • Burst mode shooting
  • Manual exposure controls
  • HEIF image format support

Battery & Power

Battery life was a big emphasis in Lollipop. Improvements included:

  • Project Volta tools for monitoring/optimizing battery
  • Battery Saver mode to extend battery at low levels
  • Power profiling & monitoring for apps
  • Job Scheduler API to optimize background tasks

Comparison to Other Android Versions

How did Lollipop compare to other major Android releases? Here is an overview:

Android Version Highlights
Android 1.5 Cupcake First full SDK release; widgets, folders, video recording
Android 2.2 Froyo Speed improvements, Adobe Flash support, mobile hotspot
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Modernized UI, actions/notifications center, data monitoring
Android 4.4 KitKat Lower memory requirements, NFC payments, cloud integration
Android 5.0 Lollipop Material Design, security enhancements, battery/connectivity focus

As we can see, each major release targeted functionality improvements and key areas like UI, connectivity, productivity etc. Lollipop stands out for its visual redesign and under-the-hood performance and battery optimizations.

Successor Versions

Android 5.0 Lollipop was eventually followed by two incremental successor versions:

  • Android 5.1 Lollipop – First maintenance release in March 2015. Focused mainly on stability and bug-fixes.
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop – Second update in April 2015. Improved audio, connectivity, camera quality, and security patches.

In October 2015, Lollipop was succeeded by Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which built upon the foundation of Material Design and improved core functionality like the power menu, app permissions, fingerprint support and Google Now. However, Lollipop’s bold visual reimagining and technology improvements solidified it as a pivotal release in Android history.


Android 5.0 Lollipop was a milestone release that ushered in a new era of Android design. With its fluid aesthetics, vibrant colors and animations, Lollipop completely revamped the look and feel of Android. Under the surface, expanded security, improved core apps, battery/connectivity optimizations and platform maturity made it faster and more powerful than ever.

Despite a slow initial rollout, Lollipop eventually found its way onto over one-third of Android devices. And it laid the groundwork for future releases like Marshmallow and Nougat to build upon. For many longtime Android users, Lollipop represents a “coming of age” of the platform into a truly modern and stylish operating system.