The Coolest New Features Of Android L Google Didn't Announce

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

Google announced Android L earlier this week, and it's due for release in late 2014. There are plenty of cool new features, but after playing with the developer preview, we discovered a bunch of sweet things Google didn't mention. Here are the coolest features Google didn't highlight in its announcement.

Disclaimer: This is a developer preview of Android L, so anything could change by the time it's released. There may be even more features that we haven't found, and some things we have seen might end up removed, disabled or changed by the time it hits consumers.

Do Not Disturb Mode Silences Incoming Notifications

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

Up until recently, Android hasn't had the ability to block all notifications if you need some peace and quiet for a little bit. This changes with Android L. Open up the Quick Settings panel in the notification shade and you'll see a Notifications toggle. Here, you can enable a Do Not Disturb mode. Set the silent period for a set time, or turn off all notifications until you re-enable them later.

Search within the Settings App To Find That Obscure Setting

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

The Settings app has a lot of useful functionality, but if you don't know what you're looking for, it can be a mess to find it. Now the app comes equipped with a search box. For common things such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you probably won't need it, but if you're looking for the setting to enable colour correction for red-green colour deficiencies, the search box can be a huge help.

Estimate Time Until Battery is Charged or Depleted

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

Google promised a slew of new battery saving features in Android L. One of the things it neglected to mention was that Android will now estimate how long it takes to fully charge the battery. When your device is plugged in, the lock screen will display how long it will take until your battery reaches 100 per cent. Additionally, while unplugged, the battery section of the Settings app will estimate how long your battery will last and when your phone will die. How accurate these estimates are will probably depend on your usage and Battery Saver settings, but it's nice info to have.

Customise Your Display with Adaptive Brightness

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

Auto-brightness is a feature that works for some, and it's horribly broken for others. In the old version, you can either set your phone's brightness level manually, or set it to auto and give your phone complete control. Obviously, this is less than ideal.

In Android L, Google's introduced a new feature called Adaptive Brightness that combines manual and auto brightness. You can manually adjust the brightness level to a state you like. Once it's set, your screen will adjust based on ambient light so it stays at the same brightness relative to the light around you. This way you can set the screen to your preferences without sticking to an absolute level.

Android Beam is (Somewhat) Easier to Use

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

Android Beam was always one of those features that sounded a lot better on paper than it worked in practice. You had to open up the photo, contact, or file you wanted to share, press two devices together, and tap and hold the screen until a connection is established.

In Android L, you can initiate an Android Beam transfer via the Share menu. This prepares to share a file from your device. Then, you just tap the two devices together to complete the connection. The amount of time you have to keep your two phones pressed against each other awkwardly is drastically reduced. It's not perfect, but it may actually be a feature you use now

Swipe to Access the Dialler from the Lock Screen

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

In previous versions of Android, you could swipe to the right on the lock screen to quickly open up the camera app. Now, Google has added the ability to swipe to the left to jump directly to the dialler app. This seems to take the place of lock screen widgets. This build of Android isn't final, so they may return, but for the moment at least, it seems like swiping to the dialer is your only first-party option.

Display PDFs Without a Separate App

How often do you really need to read a PDF on your phone? Almost never, but just often enough that it's obnoxious when you can't do it natively. If you have one of the commonly pre-installed apps like Quickoffice, you might not have noticed, but if you don't have an app with a PDF renderer included, it's a pain to track one down. Android L now includes a built-in reader. Android Police notes that it's not currently activated, but this is a preview build, so it's reasonable to assume it will be available once it's time for release.

Turn Off Notifications on a Per-App Basis All From One Place

The Coolest New Features of Android L Google Didn't Announce

You can already disable an app's notifications entirely by going to that app's system settings and unchecking the "Show notifications" button. Now, Google's made it a little easier to turn off notifications from several apps at once. In the Settings app, tap Sound & Notifications > Showing notifications > App notifications. You'll be presented with a list of all the apps on your device. Tap a given app and you'll see the "Show notifications" check box. It's not much different than digging through the app list, but it's simplified so you don't have to dig through the Downloaded/All sections, or get cluttered up with other settings.


    Most of these Samsung already does... Blocking mode, settings search, adaptive display... and the others can be done with basic apps.

      Sure, there's probably an app for every function imaginable. But would you prefer installing 8 separate app for 8 separate function, or having all these function integrated into the OS?

        theyre not apps

        theyre native in the Custom Manufacturer versions of Android

        Also CYANOGENMOD has these too

          Re: 'not apps'
          If you're on a Samsung, you do have to live with all the other apps that come with the phone and can't be removed to enjoy these features...
          (Note: that's a dig at Samsung, not at you)

            thats the same story with every custom Manufacturer bloat OS

            its great that Android L is going to have them baked in natively, but im just saying its not a new feature

            When L comes out, the manufacturers will still add their bloat ontop anyway

            THe only benefit is that those who choose to have a stock experience can have a better experience with more features, minus the bloat

            However if you installed Cyanogenmod TODAY, you could get the same thing without waiting

              I agree with you entirely. I was just capitalising on an opportunity to poke at Samsung for their bloatware. The HTC One and Sony Xperia series were not so bloaty (but other HTCs have been just as bad as Samsung).
              I personally switch between PA and CM on a semi-regular basis, and couldn't imagine going back to a manufacturer's rom.

                Any advantage of PA over CM?

                  They have some neat features:
                  When a new notification has arrived it will detect you picking up your phone and show a notification summary on the screen before you press the power button
                  When a new notification arrives while you are already using your phone, a little 'hover' pops down to the top (but you can exclude certain apps, etc)
                  You can go into 'immersive' mode, so everything will be immersive and you sweep up the normal back/home/running apps from the bottom to access it
                  In the 'quick-settings' there are 'alternates', so in quick-settings you can click a little icon in the top right of the 'wifi' box and it will change to be a 'wifi hotspot on'. Similarly with the Bluetooth option you can click the 'alternate' icon and the icon switches to be setting bluetooth to visible mode

                  So there are quite a few little niceties, but I found it ran my battery down notably faster than CM on pretty much every device I tried it on (Nexus 7, 2012; Nexus 5; Galaxy Nexus; Xperia Z) with the exception of the Nexus 10 where I didn't notice any change. The difference seemed to be mainly with idle power use, but I didn't dig too much into the specifics of waking etc.

                  I really like PA, but the gains didn't offset the cost in terms of device longevity. Give it a shot, though - you may have a different experience.

    So if I grab someone's phone, even if it's locked, I can make a phone call to New Zealand - or Africa - or Alaska? Lucky for us phone calls are free.

    Oh, wait...

      that would depend on if the person has a pin code lock...

      If you have security on your lock screen, you have to unlock to get to the dialler. In my case it brings up the pattern unlock screen.

        I'm just a simple iphone user. If someone at the pub leaves their phone unattended, they find highly inappropriate photos on their return - because drunk friends know they can still access the camera from a locked screen.
        Now imagine instead of photographing a penis in your beer, they make a prank call to a government official. Because, this seems to be a way of accessing the phone WITHOUT unlocking it.

          Nothing's changed. You can only use the emergency dialler without unlocking: the swiping is just for speed.

          You must work at the "Genius" bar

    Hopefully L comes out on the next Nexus phone (or whatever is apparently meant to replace Nexus). I will pick one up to replace my S4

      You may find that when the full L source is released, it will be adopted by a bunch of custom-rom developers like CM and you'll be able to get it onto your phone.
      Indeed, someone has made an unofficial 'Google Play Edition' rom for the i9505 that makes it as close as possible to the Google Play S4. I imagine something similar will happen with L.

    I'd love DnD for specific applications. I use the email app for work (and Gmail for personal) and I'd love to be able to set a DnD so between 4:30pm and 8:30am, notifications from the email app are off.

    But still, Android L is looking to be awesome.

    Sounds like good additions, been loving the "Quiet Hours" on WP8.1 with Cortana so I know this will be great for Android!

    The amount of time you have to keep your two phones pressed against each other awkwardly is drastically reduced. It’s not perfect, but it may actually be a feature you use now
    Seriously it was never that hard in the first place. Awkward yes, hard no.

    If you have one of the commonly pre-installed apps like Quickoffice, you might not have noticed, but if you don’t have an app with a PDF renderer included, it’s a pain to track one down
    Really? Its hard? There are numerous free PDF and office apps on Google Play. Just search "PDF reader" and you'll get a gazillion (YMMV) results.

    I welcome the other changes, many of which were on iOS or Windows, but now finally on Android.

      My experience has been that sometimes getting the NFCs to line up for more than a brief moment can be difficult because of cases, having to work out where the NFC actually is on the rear, etc. Not having to balance my phone on the back of my tablet will be nice, too.
      (Hardly a major issue, but very frustrating at times).

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