Recently, Google announced Android 5.1. Finally. While it’s mostly just a maintenance release, Google did change up some stuff and add some new features. We’re going to take a look at what Google did right in Android 5.1 to fix those pesky issues that popped up with Android 5.0.
Native HD Voice
With the Android 5.1 update, we got native HD Voice. Which means that if your carrier supports HD Voice, then you’re going to be using HD Voice. Of course, that also means that you need to be calling someone that has a phone on a carrier that both support HD Voice. While many of us don’t make phone calls anymore, HD Voice does make a HUGE difference.
While dual-sim smartphones aren’t popular here in the U.S., in developing and emerging countries where Android One is right now, its a pretty big deal. Prior to Android 5.1, Android didn’t handle multiple SIMs too well. Now it’s much easier to switch SIMs and networks, which is why we saw Android 5.1 available on Android One devices ahead of the Nexus family.
Overall Speed Improvements
With Android 5.1, Google implemented a few speed improvements on the OS. And it’s really noticeable. If you’ve used the Nexus 6 on Android 5.0, then on Android 5.1 you’ll definitely notice the difference. Not only is the Nexus 6 much faster but it’s also smoother. It also appears that internet speeds are faster, at least on WiFi. Using Speedtest, I was able to get faster speeds on my home WiFi than I got on Android 5.0 and on other Android devices.
Priority Mode Gets Better
Google introduced us to Priority mode in Android 5.0 this past fall. Google decided to do some changes to Priority mode in the Android 5.1 update. One of the big changes in Android 5.1 is that you can now switch to Priority or None, and set it for 1, 2, 3 hours etc. But you can also set until your next alarm. It’s a good feature to use when you’re going to bed, so you don’t get disturbed.
With Android 5.1, you get better security on your device. So if your device is lost or stolen, it’ll stay locked until you sign in with your Google account. This happens even if someone attempts a factory reset on the device. Currently this is only part of the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 that is shipping with Android 5.1. To enable the feature, you’ll need to secure your lock screen, and then be signed into the device with your Google account.
Better Quick Toggles for WiFi and Bluetooth
Google also enhanced the quick toggles for Wifi and Bluetooth. Now you can tap on the down arrow for WiFi and see all of the networks around you. You can also quickly jump into more settings. But the ability to jump between networks without going into the Settings app, should make it easier for some.
Google made some changes, they weren’t all the ones we wanted though. Many of us are still waiting on Google to bring back the silent mode. They didn’t. But now when you are watching a video, listening to music, etc., and press the volume button, you can hit the bell on the side to get to the ringtone volume. Like I said, they made some changes, but not all of what we wanted.
As we stated above, the Android 5.1 release was mostly a maintenance release. It was mostly fixing bugs, but it did also bring in a few new features, mostly the ones we mentioned above. We’ll likely see a new version of Android at Google I/O in May, which will be released in the fall. So it’s more than likely that we’ll see more features at that time.