Lollipop on the Nexus 10: A Real Improvement

Nexus 10, Nexus 7

I've always had a sense of trepidation when just a point update to Android update; moving from say Android 4.2 to 4.3, because the newer version of the operating system will sometimes break features. With my Nexus devices, I have come to expect these teething issues to be annoying but not terminal. However, then it comes to a more significant update – a full point change, such as from Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat to Android 5.0 Lollipop, this usually means a few things. The cynic in me harbors a belief that an older device running newer software works as an advert for a newer device. It's something that both Android and Apple devices share. So; whilst I was excited to see the over-the-air update to my Nexus 10 arrive from Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat to 5.0 Lollipop, I was a little wary. Would my Nexus grind to a halt with the new software? Would certain features break?

Android 5.0 brings about it a whole host of revisions and changes to Android including a new interface and the Android RunTime, known as ART. And perhaps that's the reason why Google released a preview version some five months before the software was released to devices, but all the same I was still wary. When the update arrived and I had to wait for my slow home broadband to download it, which took a lot longer than I would have expected for a sub-400 MB file. The device restarted, running through the update process and I left it on the charger and waited. And waited. And then it booted.

Before I write about my Lollipop experience on a two year old tablet, I should talk about what and how I use my Nexus 10. About a month ago I decided to change how I use my Nexus 10. I have streamlined the experience for me with a bias towards writing. I only have one or two non-Google applications on the device; but I mostly use Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Keep. I've minimized my use of the Google Chrome browser. Because I have a light application load, I was hoping for a clean experience with no crashing apps untowards misbehaviour or similar.

The other trick that I've picked up over the years is that when a device is booted up into a new version of the software, it can sometimes take a period of time to settle down. During the initial period, one may experience lags, slowdowns, stuttering and some inconsistency in how the device works. In older versions of Android, I'd put this down to the Dalvik cache being refreshed or cleaned by the operating system but of course, Android 5.0 Lollipop doesn't use Dalvik… so I was optimistic that I'd not experience this with the Nexus 10.

It's been over a week now since I ran the update and I know this because the Nexus 10 hasn't restarted. I have experienced some lag when switching between applications to one I've not used in a couple of days and it'll take the operating system a moment to pull the application to the front. Battery life is improved, probably because I can run the screen dimmer after the update. I've gone from ten hours of screen on time to a full charge to thirteen, which is another day if I put my mind to it. Performance is at least the same across the board but some applications feel more responsive, especially Google Docs. My Nexus 10 is one of my main writing devices so this improvement is very welcome! The Nexus 10 copes better with multitasking as switching between an open document and a web page, and back again, is a far better experience. The device will still close files in the background but it's much happier to keep them open. Google have improved how the device runs as well as what it can do, which is a double plus as far as productivity goes.

There are some issues. The multitasking button ignores Chrome tabs, which appears to be a bug with the operating system although it could be an issue with Google Chrome. It's annoying but not the end of the world. I am still getting used to the operating system as there are some differences, but if you've used Android before, it's a shallow learning curve. The interface has a bias towards the centre of the screen, which I am indifferent to other than muscle memory has my hand going to one side or the other when using the notification screen. Some of the new features are welcome, such as saying “Okay Google” from anywhere in the device.

It's about this point of an article where I introduce a “but.” I've no such caveat to append at the bottom of this article. The '10 has been improved right across the board. I'm aware that some users have experienced issues updating their device but I have to put this down to either faulty hardware or an incompatible application, because my experience has been better than I dared hope.

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