When Google officially announced Android L back in the summer, the operating system wasn't ready. Google's engineers had planned hundreds of changes to Android covering almost all aspects of the operating system. Android L was the most significant change to the operating system and to underscore this, Google released a developer preview so that customers could download the ROM, tinker with it and provide feedback. This developer preview gave developers time to ensure their applications were compatible with the new operating system.
Eventually, Android L was officially named 'Android Lollipop' and in November 2014 the finalized source code was made available. Over the air updates started for a limited number of (mostly Nexus) devices. There is a certain inevitability of bugs and issues associated with a software update. Many had been caught by the developer preview versions, but many more remained when Android 5.0 Lollipop arrived. Compared with previous software updates, the upgrade from Android 4.4 (KitKat) to 5.0 (Lollipop) was a very protracted affair. The 3G and LTE versions of the popular Nexus 7 tablets received their update just inside the hundred-day marker from once the source code had been released.
Unfortunately, things were not so straightforward with Android 5.0 Lollipop. Without going through all of the bugs reported by users, Android Lollipop has been out in the wild now for close to four months and there are still many issues waiting to be resolved. These bugs and issues include WiFi oddities (devices refusing to connect one day but work fine the next, plus battery drain if left on), the lack of a proper silent mode (always vibrating isn't the same!). Some 2013 Nexus 7 WiFi owners have had issues with video playback and some users are reporting issues with devices getting slower and slower through use, due to a memory leak issue. Many customers are asking the question: how much longer do we have to wait until these issues are resolved?
Did Google release Android Lollipop too quickly? Would they have been better off holding back on the update until it was ready? These are tough questions to answer: let's not forget that people don't tend to go online to explain that their device is working perfectly, but will go on to ask the question and vent about something not working as it should.
And yet… as I write this, I have two Android devices running Lollipop sitting in front of me. One is a Nexus 7 LTE running Android 5.0.2, which is experiencing memory leak and WiFi connectivity issues. The other is a HTC One M8 running Android 5.0.1 and the only oddity seen in the month since Lollipop arrived, is that sometimes the mobile network isn't reactivated after Power Save shuts it down, which it didn't do before. The OEMs sift through Android, introduce their own bugs and fix some of Google's.
It's fair to write that I have enjoyed the Nexus products over the years – I've owned a total of eight Nexus devices, including multiple versions of the same basic product. My experience with Android Lollipop on my current batch of Nexus devices (Nexii?) is making me question if I should upgrade to another Nexus device or instead use a skinned device next time. Should Google and the OEMs work closer together, rather than Google simply provide the code to the OEMs and leave them to it? We've seen Google working with OEMs before, such as Samsung's Knox security software. Is there scope for Google to tap into the expertise of the OEM manufacturers?
Do you use a Nexus? How has your experience been with Android Lollipop? Have you experienced any issues with the software? Do you think Google could – and should – be more accommodating interacting with the OEMs? Let us know in the comments below.