I have a potted history of Android devices, mixing third party manufacturer with stock interface. In many respects, I prefer the stock launcher and interface for its clean elegance, but I also appreciate and enjoy many of the custom ROMs and manufacturer interfaces or skins that have been applied to Android. With the latest version, Android 5.0 Lollipop the interface has gained many new features, look and feel… and whilst Google have added much to the platform, they have still left some features out. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I present a list of missing features inspired from custom ROMs and manufacturers. Some of these are small, cosmetic differences and a few are rather deeper, but all won’t look out of place on a stock Android device.
I’ll start off my list by asking Google why there still isn’t a battery percentage option in our devices? Alright, as it happens I reckon I know the answer: it isn’t necessary and encourages people to obsess over their battery. Android’s battery meter is more an estimate rather than a precise measurement and besides, in Android Lollipop, you’re only a couple of swipes from the battery percentage figure. Sometimes I am happy not knowing the percentage battery remaining but mostly I’d like a better idea than an ever depleting battery icon. It’s included in many custom and manufacturer ROMs, it would be great if it were included in stock Android.
The next feature is also one that I’m sure it going to become more and more important as developers get onboard Android Lollipop: the ability to quickly clear all applications from the recently used screen. You see, although Android is designed to be multitasking and we shouldn’t ordinarily be closing applications, other than closing something heavyweight. The operating system will handle background applications, hibernating them as it needs to. Google has changed how background applications are handled in Lollipop, the list of recently used application frames is likely to grow as developers take advantage of it (whereby one application can have multiple entries). The ability to close all applications is something many users want and it only needs to be a small, subtle button added to the overview screen, please, Google?
Many manufacturers do it, many custom ROMs do it but Google doesn’t have it: I’d like a “Reboot” option from the long-power-key menu. Having data on and off, fine; but usually when I am turning my device off it’s because I need to give it a reboot. And that likely only happens once a month or so, but that’s still twelve times a year when I lament no “Reboot” option. I would also like the ability to customize the quick settings showing in the list – this is one of my favourite features of most custom ROMs, as usually I’ll leave all the radios on and I’m almost never going to need to worry about my location settings, but I’ll clean up the notification area.
Lockscreen shortcuts would be an awesome addition. We’ve seen some movement on this, but not enough. Please, Google, if you’re going to give me more commands from the lockscreen, please make them editable! And whilst we’re at it, throw in a tap-to-unlock function, too, especially if you’re going to be introducing larger and larger smartphones. That lock key is a stretch away! Why did you remove this feature from the Nexus 6? I am in two minds about including a file manager into Android. We have a Downloads button, so it seems that including a basic file manager is a few kilobytes away. Now this written, people can do a lot of damage with a file manager without realizing what they’re doing, so perhaps it’s for the best that we don’t have one. I’d like a native way to blacklist callers and texters. As with the customizable lock screen shortcuts, we’ve seen a little movement in this respect: we have Priority Notifications and this can whitelist people, but I would to allow calls from anybody apart from a few numbers that I can add to a database. I can’t do that with stock Android.
My final request is inspired by some of the Xposed Framework modifications I made to my Nexus 4; that of finer, granular control over the modem and the networks that my device connects to. Specifically, I would like to be able to tell the device to drop to a lower speed network when the screen is locked. With my Nexus 4, I disabled 3G when the screen was locked and this made an appreciable improvement to the smartphone’s limited battery life. With modern 4G devices, dropping from 4G to 2G makes it a somewhat less elegant switch-up to 4G LTE when I unlock the device. Plus the carriers really don’t want handsets dropping down to 2G networks when they’re building out high capacity 4G (and 3G) networks. This written, I would still like the ability to put my device down to 2G when the screen is locked and I’m not explicitly using the data connection. 2G is perfectly fine for location checking, email and other notifications These are the improvements I’d welcome in stock Android, but there are many more that I could have used! What would you like to see included, what don’t you care so much about; let us know in the comments below.