Android 5.1 Lollipop has very recently been released, some four months after Android 5.0 was made available to devices. 5.1 is something of a bug fix after the update to 5.0 but includes a number of improvements and changes under the skin, one of which is significantly quicker storage performance on the Nexus 6. This improvement appears to recognize one of the issues with Android 5.0 Lollipop and the Nexus 6, this being relatively slow internal storage performance, which has widely been believed to have been caused by Google using full disk encryption. The Nexus 6 running Android 5.0 is often slightly slower than the Nexus 5, despite faster hardware, but when running Android 5.1 Lollipop the Nexus 6’s performance is better (it can now keep pace with the Nexus 5). In terms of benchmark numbers, random read performance is twice as quick whereas random write performance is nine times quicker. Long time custom Android kernel developer, Francisco Franco, explains that Google is now using NEON instructions on the Nexus 6 in order to accelerate encryption performance. This isn’t the same as using hardware-backed encryption and the Nexus 6’s 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 doesn’t have this function enabled, but Google have been experimenting with this feature in the Android Open Source Project.
There is another performance adjustment with the Nexus 6: running on Android 5.0 and when idle with the screen on, the Nexus 6 shuts two processor cores down. Now, Android 5.1 always runs with all four processor cores engaged. Theoretically, running with all four cores engaged will increase power consumption but in practice the difference will be trivial as other the 6.0-inch AMOLED screen will use more power than the idle processor cores.
Google’s push into keeping our data safe has resulted in a new feature, Device Protection. Device Protection immobilizes the device without the lock code or password. Device Protection means that the value of the Android smartphone or tablet is very much reduced because without that lock code, it’s a paperweight. Device Protection will keep the device locked down even if it is wiped using fastboot or other developer tools. It isn’t enabled automatically but instead is activated when the user sets a PIN, pattern or password lockscreen. It can also be controlled via the Android Device Manager. Currently, the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 have Device Protection whereas the Nexus 5 has yet to receive this update.
Google also polished how the Bluetooth and WiFi network quick settings work with the inclusion of drop down arrows, increasing the size of the panel to allow quick connection to devices and networks. There are other improvements elsewhere in the operating system too, including changes to dual SIM support and native HD Voice support.
Do you have a Nexus device and if so, have you received Android 5.1 yet? Are you looking forward to the new update? Let us know in the comments below.