Why I’m Not Upgrading to Android L Anytime Soon

Andy with Tootsie

The inspiration to today’s post comes from a recent forums thread entitled “lollipop sucks“. I myself wouldn’t go quite that far, especially given my limited exposure to this major Android update, but I will say that I’ve no immediate plans to upgrade any of my devices anytime soon.

My reasons are ultimately academic, as you’ll see at the end of this post. But  still think it’s worth listing a few of the major issues that users—mostly Nexus users—are having with their Android 5.0 update. This way you’ll at least be prepared when that OTA notification appears on your phone or tablet.

Performance Issues

Two big “gotchas” that keep popping up in my news feeds about Android L single out two issues: performance and battery life.

Devices seem to be taking a sizable speed hit because Android L has system-wide encryption turned on by default. See this piece on AnandTech and the ensuing reddit discussion for more. What’s not 100% clear to me is whether or not the Lollipop OTA encrypts an older Nexus phone or tablet automatically.

Another redditor on r/Android has uploaded a gallery of screen grabs comparing the battery life of a Nexus 7 pre-and-post-Lollipop update. You’ll find a link to and discussion of that right here. Spoiler alert: it’s not pretty.

Dumbing It Down

The consensus from the big tech blogs seems to be that Lollipop finally provide Android users with an experience that rivals iOS. So what does this mean for the power user crowd? This discussion on Hacker News would suggest that they’re pretty pissed.

UX is a fairly subjective thing, though. I’ve seen the screen grabs and have played around a bit with a Nexus 9 tablet at my local Best Buy. Lollipop’s PlayStation-style navigation buttons don’t really bother me, but I will say that I  much prefer the dark look of ICS to the garish white that seems to be all over Android L.

Some (Not So) Little Things

KitKat Silent Mode

An Android Central writer posted this to his Google+ stream last night, with the caption: “Anyone else remember this? Fuck I’m old.” Users upgrading to L might be surprised to discover that the shortcut to silence your device—holding the volume down key and then, when this pop-up appears, pressing it down once more—is no longer an option.

Silent mode hasn’t been removed altogether, it’s just a lot harder to enable. Huh, I always thought that software upgrades were supposed to make things better for the user, not worse.

My Device, My Rules

The simple reason why neither my Nexus 5 nor 7 will get a 5.0 upgrade is because I’m running custom KitKat ROMs on both of them. Unless I re-flash factory images on either I’ll never see a Lollipop OTA from Google. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The truth is, I already enjoy a lot of what Lollipop has to offer. Customizable Quick Tiles? Check. Built-in torch? Check. A permissions manager for my apps? Oh right, stock Android still doesn’t offer that…

Whenever Cyanogen or whomever comes up with a suitable 5.0-based ROM I’ll flash that when I choose, rather than have an upgrade forced on me by Google. If you’re running stock KitKat my only advice to you is this: it’s okay to say no.