As part of the visual changes that came along with Android 5.0 Lollipop, plenty of apps saw their icons get a refresh to reflect the new Material Design style of the updated Android design guidelines. Google did this to their own apps as well, and now with Android 5.1 Lollipop Google has updated a couple of new app icons to look more Material like. This had to happen sooner or later as the original icons were beginning to feel a bit dated and needed a facelift. Once users update to Android 5.1 Lollipop on their compatible devices, they'll notice that the default Android icon, as well as the icon for Google's Android Beam sharing feature, have both been updated to look more like the rest of the icons that have been updated for Lollipop.
Clearly these are not major changes. They're purely aesthetic and serve no purpose on a functional level for users. However, it is nice to see things look universal and in this regard this is what Google is doing with these icon changes. The old default Android icon used to be a more 3D-model looking icon which displayed the little bug droid's entire body, head, antennas, and all. Now, the default icon is simply a more material, flat look with noticeable shadows and is more or less just the top half without the arms and legs showing. Generally users will see this icon when they go into settings/apps and then to the "all" tab.
The Android Beam icon looks nearly the same as the default Android icon but features the rounded beam wave in the bottom left corner. Small little changes like these, while giving users no new features to play with nor any new functionality to the device, are still necessary so the operating system as a whole feels like it's progressing along visually as well as functionally. The update to the Android Beam icon feels especially important as Google introduced Android Beam as a share menu option with the coming of Android 5.0 Lollipop, which people are prone to see pretty consistently since sharing is a big part of smartphones. What do you think about the new icon styles?