Google Android 4.5 (Lollipop) - Details & Release Date
Google's next version of its mobile operating system - Android 4.5 (Lollipop) - could be launched in June at Google I/OReuters

Google's annual developer conference is set to take place on 25 and 26 June and along with updates on Google Glass, much more about smartwatches and Android Wear, along with a possible Nexus 8 tablet, we expect to see the latest version of the company's Android software unveiled.

The current version of Google's operating system is Android 4.4, known as KitKat thanks to a commercial tie-up with Nestle, which was launched in September of last year.

Until now, Google has been relatively happy with manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and HTC to do what they liked with Android, skinning it with their own proprietary software - but things have changed in the last six months.

Google's 10-year cross licensing patent deal with Samsung shows that Google wants to have some control over what Android's biggest player does with its software, while Google's insistence on having "Powered by Android" show up on the boot screen of new phones shows the company wants to remind people just who created the world's most popular mobile operating system.

So what next for Google?

Here we look at some of the features expected to be included in the Android 4.5 update, but first a word about Android 4.4.3


Android 4.4.3: Swatting bugs


The most recent version of Android is 4.4.2 but before Google's launches Android 4.5, it is widely expected to push out the Android 4.4.3 update. However those hoping for a slew of new features will be disappointed, as it will mostly fix bugs in the current version.

Android Police has detailed all the fixes coming with Android 4.4.3 with the most interesting for Nexus 5 users a fix for the camera focus issue, along with improvements to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.


Android 4.5: What's in a name?


Android 4.5 (Lollipop)

As most of you will know, Google likes to name its major Android updates after sweet treats - and in alphabetical order - which is why we can narrow down the codename of Android 4.5 to a few choices.

The most obvious, and the one rumoured to be in use inside Google, is Lollipop - or Lollypop depending on how you like to spell it.

However, there are some more interesting options:

  • Android Lemon Meringue Pie
  • Android Layer Cake
  • Android Lamington

or our favourite...

  • Android Ladyfingers

Android 4.5: Wearables


Google showed its hand last month for its plans for wearables. Android Wear is a specific version of its mobile software designed to run on smartwatches initially, but likely on a range of wearable tech in years to come.

With the consumer version of Google Glass also thought to be mentioned at Google I/O this June, it is clear that any new version of Android will need to integrate tightly with these devices.

Android Wear for Smartwatches
The Android Wear software will make for a much better experience when using Android on a smartwatch.Screengrab/YouTube

An Android Wear app is likely to be unveiled to allow you to monitor all devices connected to your smartphone or tablet, and alter how they connect and how often.

How these devices pair with your smartphone and possibly use its data connection will have to be handled properly so as not to drain the battery life of your phone and/or your monthly data allowance.


Android 4.5: More Google Now


Google Now, the intelligent personal assistant for Android, was introduced in 2012 and in the two years since has grown and evolved to become one of the most important parts of Google's operating system.

It's influence however is best seen on devices like the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, along with the Moto G and Moto X, all of which run practically pure versions of Android, where Google Now is at the heart of the interface.

Windows Phone 8.1 Voice-activated personal assistant Cortana
Cortana

Google will want this influence to extend to other devices from the likes of Samsung and Sony by making it even more integral to how the software operates.

Google Now also needs to expand in terms of the services it supports, which currently include sports, public transport, meetings and stocks.

With Apple's Siri already offering a more human interface, and Microsoft's up-coming Cortana voice-activated personal assistant set to offer something similar, we also expect to see Google making Google Now more personal, and possibly unveil it's own AI personal assistant.


Android 4.5: Security


Android and security are not words that go hand-in-hand. While Google has improved the security of its software enormously in recent years, it is still seen as a very vulnerable platform.

Therefore we expect to see a two-pronged improvement in Adnroid 4.5.

The first, and most important, is Google Play. The vast majority of mobile malware targets the Android OS, and while most of that is found in third-party app stores, there is a lot ot be found in the official Play store and that is why Google needs to make its app selection system more rigorous, as well as responding faster to complaints from users and developers.

The second way we expect to see Android security improved is device security, and this means Android being able to handle data from fingerprint sensors natively, as well as potentially revisiting Face Unlock, to make it more robust and actually useful.


Android 4.5: Better battery life


While this is in some ways up to the device manufacturers to implement, Google plays an important role too.

Better battery life is one thing which consistently tops the list of what smartphone users want from a new device, and the initial move to the ART runtime in Android 4.4 should be fully implemented in Android 4.5 and thereby significantly improve batter life.

ART is an "ahead of time" compiler which processes data before you even request it, which in theory should provide a smoother experience and better battery life .


Android 4.5: Nexus 6 or Nexus 8


Google Nexus 8
Is this the Google Nexus 8?

Traditionally Google has launched new Nexus hardware alongside new versions of Android, but recent reports suggest Google could be ready to ditch the program altogether.

It seems odd however that after the success of the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 devices with LG, Google would ditch the Nexus program entirely.

However the complete lack of leaks surrounding a Nexus 6 could indicate that this is indeed the case - though it could also indicate that the next Nexus smartphone won't be launching until much later in the year, just like the previous two models.

What is more likely is the launch of the Nexus 8, a new tablet with a slightly larger screen than the Nexus 7. A device which could be the Nexus 8 first made an appearance in a promotion Google video last year, and has since been tipped for launch at Google I/O.