Google keeps referring to Android 5.0 Lollipop as the biggest Android update yet, and for good reason.
The update is filled with a bunch of new additions large and small — one of which allows you to seamlessly unlock your phone as you’re reading notifications without lifting a finger.
Android 5.0 Lollipop will come with a new lock screen known as Smart Lock, and Google revealed a few more details about it in a blog post published on Tuesday.
One of the features built in to the optional lock screen is the ability for the phone to recognise your face as you’re reading notifications. This allows the phone to unlock itself if it knows you’re reading your most recent text messages, missed call alerts, or social media updates.
To be clear, Android phones have been able to unlock themselves by recognising your face since 2012 when Android 4.0 debuted. What’s different about this version, however, is that it does this as your reading whatever is on your phone’s screen. In the past, Face Unlock worked as a separate step, just like typing in your password.
With Smart Lock, Google is also allowing you to use wearables and other Bluetooth or NFC-enabled accessories to unlock your phone.
So, for example, if you’re wearing a smartwatch and your phone is within range, your phone will unlock. However, if someone happens to walk off with your phone, he or she will not able to unlock the device unless they also have your smartwatch. Google showcased this feature when it unveiled Android 5.0 back in June, but offered more details on Tuesday.
Other than that, Android 5.0 comes with a few new features aimed at keeping your data safe, which are locked into Lollipop’s back end. Android phones running on 5.0 will be fully encrypted by default, which means you won’t have to turn this on in your phone’s settings. Google is also requiring that all apps on devices running Android 5.0 use Security Enhanced Linux Enforcing Mode.
This is essentially an extra layer of security designed to make it harder to hackers to bypass app security, and it also restricts how much damage a hacker can inflict if malicious software does end up on your phone. The NSA has been using this type of security since 2001.
Android Lollipop is expected to roll out to some devices at the end of this year and early 2015, but Google’s family of Nexus products will be the first to get it.