I've had Lollipop (Android 5) on my phone for about ten days now, so it seemed like a good time to report back on my feelings and experiences with this new, 'material design' laden Operating System.
I received Lollipop early and due to the nature of Google's rollout strategy I have probably received a version buggier than others, for example, my Nexus 7 is yet to update. It is rough around the edges, but lets take a dig around.
Speaking of Lollipop's new design, I personally like it. It's animated enough, but not excessive, screen elements are crisp, text is clearer and somehow it feels like there is more information available in less space. When opening an app that hasn't yet embraced a refresh, it stands out, and not always in a positive way. How the new design paradigm is handled varies from app to app, but generally it's a positive step. My main criticism is that my Nexus 5 is stuck using the Google Now launcher and I wish I could switch it for the default launcher. On the subject of launchers, whilst the rest of vanilla Android is now looking quite slick, the default launcher is long overdue a lick of paint.
Notifications / Settings pane
This are the two sides of the new look notifications and settings panes. I mostly like the compactness of this new layout, apart from one minor annoying omission. There is no longer a quick way of seeing what wifi networks are available, the icon here only switches wifi on and off. It's consistent, but does mean if you want to disconnect from a previous wifi network that you have inadvertently joined, you have to delve into the settings proper.
Notifications modes and the slow irrelevance of the power button
Lets deal with the power button first and possibly one of the more controversial Lollipop changes that may end up as Android's 'Start Menu' and eventually return. All the power button now does is turn the phone on and off. As we have already seen, Airplane mode is now accessed via the drop down settings menu, and silent mode, well it's been split in two. Android's new official way is to use notification modes.
With these modes you can set what levels (all, priority and none) notifications can disturb you when the phone is in each mode. It's not quite a silent mode, but if you do want to access the 'old style' silent mode you hold the volume down button until it hits silent, so it's there, but not as convenient.
Battery life on my Nexus 5 seems to be the same as before, but it's other, more subtle changes that are the real difference, especially power management assistant apps that now seem to be broken.
Many have had some issue with the new battery usage screen.
Instead of showing you the percentage use of an app overall, it shows you the battery use of each app as part of what is remaining. I still don't completely understand it myself...
Lollipop ships with a Battery saver mode that can be set to trigger at a particular percentage, but what it actually does is a bit of a mystery to me! I used to use combinations of Agent and Battery Doctor to achieve the same results and it was very clear what they were doing. With Lollipop all that seems to change is red bands get added to the top and bottom of the screen and auto-sync is disabled. Battery life is prolonged, but it could be prolonged more. It seems that Lollipop has disallowed 3rd party apps on unrooted devices from disabling mobile data, much in the same vein to previous versions of Android disallowing switching airplane mode. This is a bit of a pain for many apps and we shall see what plays out.
Miscellaneous Losses and Gains
Lock Screen Widgets
I used these occasionally, but Lollipops new notifications largely replaces them.
Hear the cries of all the Android flashlight developers as there's now one built into Lollipop.
All in all I like the direction of Lollipop and Material Design, but it is still rather rough around the edges and I am not the only one to think this, even Google has staggered it's roll out far more than it typically would. It does still feel like a beta to me, no major issues, but lots of strange occurrences that have no real explanation, source or pattern. This has all meant that market share of Lollipop has grown a lot slower than other recent Android versions.