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It seemed pretty likely that Google would start the launch of Android 5.0 – whose delicious nickname is Lollipop – right around the same day that people started to take home new Nexus 9 tablets, which run Lollipop out of the box. Indeed, since the Nexus 9 is available starting today, so too is the newest version of Android, which Google confirmed will start hitting all manner of Nexus devices within the next 24 hours.

According to a new post on the Official Android Blog, you might see that operating system update notification any minute today. With the new version of the OS, users will get to enjoy the new design aesthetic that’s slowly been invading Android apps – Material Design. We first heard about Material Design at Google I/O this past summer, but a quick refresher: it emphasizes the use of animations and shadows to make it feel as though users are interacting with real items that have physical relationships. Opening a new menu will slide a digital piece of “paper” over what you were just looking at. It looks cool, and may help Android earn some style points against the ever-fashionable iOS.

There will also be a number of functional changes coming with Android 5, too. Google has already said that Lollipop will have encryption turned on by default, while the new version of the OS promises enhancements to the battery as well.

Meanwhile, Google has overhauled its flagship email app, Gmail, with the Material Design aesthetic, along with allowing for POP and IMAP email account support. In short, if you were using multiple email apps to check all your accounts, you won’t have to do that any longer. While the Google Play Store still has yet to update with the new version of Gmail, the APK file is floating around the web – like right here.

I downloaded it over the weekend and I can safely say that the new Gmail works great so far. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for my Nexus 5 smartphone to let me update the OS. Once that happens, we’ll post a more in-depth analysis of the new bells and whistles. If you’ve got a Nexus device starting with the 4 and above, keep your eyes peeled for the update. If you’ve got an Android device from another manufacturer, however, you might have to wait until December…or even January. As ever, check with your device’s maker and your carrier for full details about when the over-the-air update will hit your gadget.

[Sources: Official Android Blog, Android Police]


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