Yearly system updates are a part of the modern smartphone experience, and, like clockwork, Apple and Google typically issue them every fall.
The newest version of Google's Android OS, codenamed Lollipop, is something a little different. Lollipop isn't just an update; it's Google's vision of how we should interact with the Web on our phones, tablets and computers.
In 2007, Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance unveiled Android. Unlike Apple's iOS, Android was "open source," meaning that any cellphone manufacturer participating in the program could put Android onto its devices. Companies like Samsung, HTC and Motorola added their own customizations to the OS that often left no two phones looking or functioning exactly the same way.
Over the years, Google has incrementally refined Android, adding standard features like copy/paste and Google Now, one dessert-themed codename at a time.
Unlike its recent predecessors Jelly Bean and KitKat, Lollipop represents a major shift in Google's priorities. Android, for the first time, feels like something that anyone (nerds and non-nerds alike) would want to use.
The way Lollipop looks is the most immediate change you'll see after updating your phone or tablet. Similar to Apple's major redesign with iOS 7, Lollipop is lighter, brighter and more whimsical.
Where Apple's new look focuses on transparency and layers, Google is betting on a style metaphor it's calling Material Design. Material Design is built around the idea of treating the virtual space within your smartphone as if it were a physical object.