If you're currently looking to upgrade your Android smartphone, it might be a good idea to put your plans on hold, at least until the autumn.
And that's because Google has just offered the world a sneak peek of what to expect in the next version of its smartphone operating system, currently codenamed ‘L,' and which will be officially launching later in the year.
Thanks to the unique way in which software updates are pushed out to Android smartphones and tablets, even if a device is merely six months old, there is no guarantee that it will receive the next version of the operating system in a timely manner, if at all, unless of course it is a Nexus device.
And you'll be disappointed if you miss out on what version ‘L' has to offer, especially in terms of security, productivity and being able to use the phone for longer before digging out the charging cables.
Better battery life
It's what smartphones crave most above all other features and the next version of Android will be packed full of clever tricks to keep the screen lit for as long as possible between charges. So, as battery reserves start to slip, the handset's processor will slow down, as will the rate at which the screen refreshes. The display brightness will also dim and unnecessary functions will stop. This should all help to keep a phone or tablet useful for longer, but, Google being Google, the tricks don't stop there. App developers will be able to see how their creations impact the battery life of handsets and make tweaks to their apps so that they zap less juice.
Google and Microsoft have already stated that this feature would be rolling out to handsets in the future as a way of making their handsets less attractive to would-be thieves. So, if lost or stolen, a handset can be remotely shut down and wiped for extra security. But, for extra convenience, Google is also integrating a new feature which will allow a smartphone to be unlocked and used without any PIN number or passcode when it is in a very specific geographic location -- for instance, the user's home.
The latest version of Apple's iPhone operating system allows users to start working on something -- be it an iWork document or an email -- on one device then go to another Apple product and pick up where you left off, automatically. It also allows Mac owners to use their computers as smartphone extensions, sending and receiving text messages and making voice and video calls. And now, as long as you've got a Google Chrome OS Chromebook, Android L will offer the same functionality. What's more, you'll be able to run a selection of Android apps, including Evernote, on the Chromebook itself.
Google has a tradition of naming each new release of Android after a sweet or dessert -- version ‘I' became Ice Cream Sandwich, version ‘J', Jelly bean and the current, most up-to-date version is called Kitkat. All of which means that when Android L is officially released, it is more than likely to be known as Lollipop.
Watch: Google shows off 'L', Android One