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Will Android M fix the broken mess of Lollipop?

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Android Lollipop is as beautiful as it is flawed. It marked a big shift in design and presentation for the Android OS, and along with this shift came many problems that make the operating system perfect for some, but nearly unusable for others. With the smoke now clear after the buzz of Google I/O 2015 and the Android 'M' announcement, we look at Google's focal points for Android M, and whether it'll fix all the things we rightfully hated about its predecessor.

It's hard not to like Android Lollipop. It is, after all, the OS update that turned heads and made the world take note of Android's presentation, where before iOS-owning mothers would shield their childrens' eyes and cross the street to avoid coming into contact with the ugly OS. Lollipop has helped make Android arguably the best-looking and most intuitive OS out there. However, it's also flawed in serious ways, leaving its successor, Android M, with a lot of cleaning up to do.

androidpit broken lollipop
Lollipop is broken in many ways, and Android M is coming in to fix it. / © ANDROIDPIT

So far, we have only Google's announcement of Android M and our short time with the developer preview to judge the OS by. However, Google's approach to announcing M was very revealing about what will be the focal point of the update. With Lollipop, it was all about the aesthetics; "Material Design" was the buzzword, and it all felt very fresh and exciting. Google has revealed much less with Android M, and certainly nothing as 'revolutionary'. This, however, suggests that most of the work on the OS is going to happen 'under the hood'.

I was actually quite pleased to see a lack of features with that big 'wow' factor being announced for Android M. Sure, there were a few usability flourishes here and there, such as the new app drawer (which you can also now install for Android Lollipop), Android Pay and USB Type C support, but these are quite small things compared to those announced for Lollipop last year.

In focusing on improved battery management in the form of Doze (which apparently worked wonders on the Nexus 5), more control over background apps in RAM Manager, and offering more control over app permissions, Google is showing its dedication to addressing users' concerns, rather than blinding us with mind-blowing new features.

AndroidPIT Android M preview memory manager
RAM Manager is one of the features being introduced in Android M to make it more stable than Lollipop, but the biggest fixes need to be made under the hood. / © ANDROIDPIT

Even the improvements announced by Google, however, will do little to comfort people whose phones have been left crippled by the Lollipop update, such as Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 owners who are still smarting from the botched update, or Nexus 6 owners (yes, Google's own phone) who have been unable to connect to Wi-Fi. Lollipop's feature set was great, its issues were much deeper-rooted. What good are such features if the OS is broken for many?

Yet the lack of revelations for Android M suggests to me that Google is focusing on the things that don't make for appealing announcements, yet are crucial for the OS. Improving compatibility across OEMs, more pre-release testing, and stability fixes are a must for Android M. Google is aware that Lollipop left many out in the cold, and a second OS slip-up in a row would be disastrous for the company.

Of course, Google didn't have the humility to acknowledge at I/O 2015 that the Lollipop update was - and continues to be - a mess for many users, with continuing reports of battery drains, crashes, and glitching on many devices. In fact, Google barely mentioned Lollipop at all, perhaps because it would bring up too many painful memories for people, or perhaps  because Google is keen to frame 'M' as a continuation of Lollipop, rather than something to be contrasted with it. That way too, the bittersweet memory of Lollipop might fade as it merges with the hopefully much-improved M.

android m vs lollipop hero
Lollipop was revolutionary for Android, but Android M now needs to clean up the mess that always accompanies revolutions. / © ANDROIDPIT

Every time there's a revolution, things inevitably get a bit messy for a while before settling down and progressing. The French Revolution was crucial to establishing democracy, but heads did roll along the way; Windows 10 looks set to be the best version of Windows yet, but we had to put up with Windows 8 to get there. With Android, Lollipop was the bloody but exciting revolution, and Android M should be the calm, comforting ruler who takes over when things settle down a bit.

Like omelettes and eggs, it seems that if you want to make a great operating system, you've got to break a few phones, which Lollipop certainly did. I'm optimistic that the Android M omelette will make it worthwhile, though it's likely too late for many users to regain faith in the OS after their experiences with Lollipop.

Do you think that Android M will fix Lollipop's many problems, or have you lost faith in Google? Let us know in the comments.

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Robert Zak

Robert Zak
UK Editor

A tech aficionado since he first picked up a NES controller, Robert has written about technology, videogames, and film across a range of sites and magazines, including Den of Geek, Gamasutra, and Computeractive. At AndroidPIT, he'll be bringing you the latest Android news and reviews from the front line in the UK.

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  • 5
    Deactivated Account Oct 11, 2016 Link to comment

    The most important apps that I used to automate and facilitate tasks are no longer working, neither in Lollipop nor in Marshmallow. It seems that kitkat was hard to defeat. The only thing that keeps me (for now) in Marshmallow is the new second space feature that I'm testing.

  • Duncan Smith 1
    Duncan Smith Jun 26, 2015 Link to comment

    Hi I have a Sony Xperia Z1 and what was a great device is now rendered pracatically unusable. I use my phone as a tool at work once the lollipop invaded the phone sucks (please forgive the pun). Message alerts that alert me to the same messages, phone and app crashes. Hangs for absolutely no reason, and it takes 5 times as long to do things that used to be instant with KitKat, and that is not an exaggeration. I am happy that so many users seem to have sidestepped the issues I have. I have jumped ship, two months of putting up with a crippled handset with nothing coming back from Google. Flaws, lollipop is a debacle on the Xperia Z1 who decided to release this "finished" OS in the wilds? Google have lost the plot. I hope you droidians fare better than I. Thanks Google :).

  • 11
    Mark R. Jun 12, 2015 Link to comment

    I've had no issues whatsoever with Lollipop on my HTC One or my Nexus 4. I too am struggling to see why it would be deemed a 'broken mess'!

  • 2
    T L Macson Jun 9, 2015 Link to comment

    I guess I'm one of the lucky ones because I've had no real issues with either the original lollipop install or the update on my AT&T Note 4 . That said, knock on Gorilla Glass!

    GT Ohh

  • 1
    Raymond Low Jun 9, 2015 Link to comment

    To me, every Android release suffers from the same problem - a very vocal minority who experience problems giving the (wrong) impression to those outside. You only have to look at the number and variety of devices running the software, customised from stock to unrecognisable by the manufacturers - of course there will be some issues. But to say Lollipop is a broken mess is a massive over-statement. Having said that, M runs really well on the Nexus 6, and is amazingly stable.

  • 13
    Mark S. Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    I wish there were more stories like this. I generally do like the lollipop update...but what a mess! The inexcusable bugs (memory leaks, can't connect to camera, gps disconnects) have forced me to go back to kit kat. 5.1.1 is much better than 5.0, but there is still work to be done. I wish Google would acknowledge the bugs and push out updates faster. It seems like the Apple pushed an update out within days of their botched releases.

    GT Ohh

  • 4
    J W Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    Where is the integrated Root/SuperUser Mode?

    Android will never be complete or secure as long as it is necessary to use third party hacks to root Android.

    GT Ohh

  • GT Ohh 14
    GT Ohh Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    LolliPOOP Beautiful? It is the most boring, plain, lazy, non imaginative OS ever. It is simply Disgusting.

    • PrashantRev 2
      PrashantRev Jun 9, 2015 Link to comment

      Stay on kitkat.

      GT Ohh

  • 3
    Keith Carr Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    There is no excuse for lollipop ruining my note4. Kitkat was perfect they should have just left it alone. "Like omelettes and eggs, have to break a few phones" what a load of crap. I cannot even believe I just read this. Since I could not root my phone and go back to kitkat (verizon serial number phone) I got rid of it and got iphone 6+. SO now I have a phone with half the functionality of my beloved note4 but at least the OS works. Android sucks, windows sucks, and apple sucks. Consumers are just screwed all the way around. Have to pick the least offensive platform and learn to live with it. And BTW lollipop is NOT beautiful. I hated the way they changed the appearance and functionality. So upset with google samsung and verizon over this lollipop debacle. Mad enough to buy an iphone 6+ which says it all.

    GT Ohh

    • Robert Zak 8
      Robert Zak Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

      The "omelettes and eggs" line wasn't intended to be taken literally; it's a sardonic dig at Lollipop, which I I've said many times has been a mess. Of course I don't think that people who own smartphones should have to put up with broken operating system updates. It's unacceptable, and I've written previously about Google letting smartphone owners down with their handling of Lollipop.

      However, looking to the future, I think that Google's priorities appear to be in the right place for Android M - building on the good parts of Lollipop and fixing the bad, without any drastic changes (which could just lead to another Lollipop mess).

      I agree that it has been a debacle, though I disagree with you about Lollipop's looks. I do think it's a beautiful mess, but each to their own on that one!

      GT OhhPrashantRev

      • 16
        Viktor jovanović v. Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

        I agree at all

    • 12
      Russell Wilson Jun 10, 2015 Link to comment

      Keith, I still have much to learn about mobile technology, but I think it's safe to assume that Lollipop is not responsible for destroying your Note 4. Seeing as how there are more Note 4's running lollipop that work perfectly fine (one of them being my own) than there are that don't; it seems more reasonable to assume that your Note 4 stopped working due to something you did to it, not lollipop. Were it Android's fault, wouldn't they all have been destroyed?

    • 1
      Gavin Sealey Jun 14, 2015 Link to comment

      My Moto G phone nagged me to upgrade. Yesterday I did and now I can't use an auto answer appworked perfectly under Kitkat. Also the phone defaults to speaker or is at speaker volume when call I make or receive calls. I've never wanted an iphone and hated the windows phone so I'm going to look for a phone running Kitkat.

  • John Martin 12
    John Martin Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    The comment that all technology has flaws is true, however the severity of the flaws are what determines if the product is suitable for end users.
    I admit I am a bit if a perfectionist but then I designed security systems so this was expected.
    So often we accept bad coding and put up with the most elementary of mistakes from the like of Microsoft, I so hope Google never go the same way... As to "MAndroid", I hope it is man enough to restore end users trust.

    GT Ohh

  • 12
    Russell Wilson Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    Every OS update is going to have flaws, Android M will fix those in lollipop but it will still have its own flaws the will be fixed in Android N and so on down the line for all of eternity. That's how technology develops. it's never going to be perfect, there will always be a flaw; and I think everyone would be much happier if the stopped expecting the perfect OS; it will never happen and everyone will just be let down over and over and over again. Instead focus on what has improved or been added, focus on what's good about each OS and anxiously await the new things to come in the next update. Do this and I promise you'll be much happier with your Android device.

    Matthew CarsonAndré MendesGT Ohh

  • 16
    Viktor jovanović v. Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    Android Lolipop is beatiful altough there was a few problems with memory lake, batery drain and chrashes... most of them is fixed with upgrade on 5.1.1, and the rest will be fixed with Android M, I'm sure it will!

  • 24
    Deactivated Account Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    I agree, but my problem here in south africa is not so much that lollipop has problems. I have issues with carriers taking too long or not releasing updates at all. I mean here in south africa the only samsung phones, not sure about the rest but I doubt last years models received updates, that received Lollipop was the S6 and S6 edge as lollipop was pre-installed already on the devices when sold to the public. The S5 and those before it have not yet seen any update towards lollipop. So if lollipop 5.1.1 and/or M is released by the end of the year I will probably not see it, which is a waste so I will be stuck with a phone that has lollipop 5.0.2 indefinite most likely. If Android, Samsung and mobile phone companies want to hold onto their customers here in south africa I would suggest they bypass carriers and somehow send the updates directly, that will speed up the process and make sure people get the updates and get rid of the horrible bloatware carriers add as well. I mean we pay just as much for the devices as everyone else across the globe, yet we are overlooked and don't receive the service and updates like everyone else does. I have taken this up with my carrier they just laugh it off and ignore me. At this stage I might not purchase a Android device in the future again, not because of Android, as I like and enjoy their products, but due to the carrier(s) not supplying the public with updated software that they are suppose to leaving me with a product with problems that will not be fixed.

    Robert Zak

  • 10
    plck74 Jun 8, 2015 Link to comment

    no matter what version, always have issue on battery, ram, lag and wifi. just fix it before go to new version!!!!

  • 1
    Fahad Ayaz Jun 7, 2015 Link to comment

    Lollipop has been running great on my OnePlus One for many months! (with the exception of touchscreen issues for the last couple, which isn't a lollipop issue)

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