Google today released the SDK for the Android 5.1 Lollipop. The new developer tools come just 24 hours after Google announced the latest version of Android. Although Android 5.1 is mostly a maintenance update to 5.0.2, Google still added a few new features that are worth discussing.
The Android 5.1 Lollipop SDK runs API Level 22. There are a couple of new APIs within the SDK for empowering apps. The first of which adds native platform support for multiple SIM cards. Google says this is critical for emerging markets where its Android One platform is gaining steam. Dual-SIM devices support two or more SIM cards, which allow smartphones to make/receive calls from more than a single phone number. This is a solution popular in Asia that lets people carry one device that can access both their personal and business numbers. Until now, app developers and handset makers had to add their own code to make devices compatible with more than a single SIM card. The multiple SIM API lets developers create their own unique experiences around devices with more than one SIM card.
Another new feature is called Device Protection. Although this is mostly a consumer-facing feature, it’s an important one nonetheless. With it, Android devices that have become lost or stolen have access to an activation lock. This means the device will remain locked until the original owner signs in with their Google account. This applies even if the device is reset to factory settings. Google said the Device Protection feature will hit most devices with Android 5.1 on board. Google was quiet on whether or how APIs will support this feature.
A third new feature is new support for High Definition Voice calling, thanks to the Carrier Services API. With this enabled, carriers can offer their customers HD Voice over LTE 4G networks. Developers will be able to add HD Voice functions to their own apps, too. Google says the Carrier Services APIs provide a “secure and flexible way for carrier-developed apps to perform these tasks and be distributed through Google Play.”
Google said Android 5.1 is pushing out to most Nexus devices over the next few weeks. That includes the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 6 smartphones, the Nexus 7 (2012 and 2013), Nexus 9, and Nexus 10 tablets, as well as the Nexus Player. Google is encouraging developers to download the new SDK and get to work on adding the latest features to their new apps.