One of the major selling points with of the Nexus platform is what Android enthusiasts like calling the "Pure Android Experience." We referred to it as AOSP because it is Android as compiled from Google's official Android Open Source Project without any other modifications by the phone manufacturer. Most manufacturers add their own twist to the Android Operating System in order to have a custom tailored experience. AOSP devices come with a version of Android directly configured by Google. While these custom tailored experiences are not bad things in themselves, there are some great perks of having a Nexus/AOSP device:
1. Updates come directly from Google and come to Nexus device first.
2. The phone comes with a bare bones install. (Some enthusiasts prefer a lean phone over a feature full phone with features they may not use.)
3. A device that performs the way Google intended it to. (Also a byproduct of having a bare bones install.)
This first point is the one I am most excited about, though. Recently, Google announced the next iteration of the Android OS. While normally named after deserts, as this version has yet to be completed, Google is referring to it as Android "L". A day after Google announced the new Android L platform, they released Android L preview firmware updates to several of their Nexus series of devices. These firmware updates were designed for developers to test their apps' compatibility with the upcoming Android L release and to allow developers to update their apps accordingly prior to the Android L release.
These updates are not your standard over-the-air updates that users normally see. These updates are only a preview of what is to come and are truly meant for developers only. They are not ready to be used as the daily driver for a non-developer. That being said and any preview bugs aside, the Android L preview firmware for my Nexus 5 allowed me to see where Google is taking AOSP and I am very excited about what I'm seeing! Both as a developer and as a user, the next version of Android is bringing some major changes that will take an already great platform and improve it drastically. The changes are so massive, they remind me of the Android 2.3 to Android 4.0 jump. For those of you who did not experience that jump, Android gained the majority of its hardware acceleration in Android 4.0 on phones (Android 3.0 on tablets). This allowed Android devices to use their GPU's in such a way as to provide a smooth experience that was impossible to reproduce with Android 2.3 and prior, regardless powerful the CPU in your device was.
Here are some of the major changes that I'm excited about as a user:
1. Google is switching Android from the Dalvik runtime to the ART runtime. In layman's terms, in the past, Android apps have run on top of a java-like system. This allowed developers to create one app that ran on every system but also added some overhead to apps. With ART, all apps will now be precompiled at install time. This means that all apps should launch faster, perform better, and be smoother overall.
2. Floating notifications - Notifications can now float above any app you currently have open. To demostrate how awesome this is, think of that time when you were THIS close to getting the high score in a game and then someone called you. The incoming call took over the screen and you lost. With Android L, rather than taking over the screen, you would get a small pop up at the top of the screen advising you that you have an incoming call asking if you want to take the call or decline it. This is absolutely brilliant.
3. The lockscreen displays any notifications the system has. Now all you have to do is pick up your phone, turn on the screen, and glance at all your notifications without having to touch anything else.
(Yes, it places a little picture of you from your Google account at the top right corner of the screen.)
4. Animations galore. Google has added so many buttery smooth animations to Android that the whole thing just feels like a flowing animation.
5. Brighter colors. The whole interface is being rebuilt for lighter colors, instead of the current black, blue, and grey hues.
And these are just but a sample of the many changes that have been done to Android L. The way I see it, Android is going to grow in massive ways in the upcoming months and I can't wait for it to happen!
Disclaimer: The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity.