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Future Processing on Android lollipop
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Are sweets really bad for you? – Android 5.0 Lollipop

date: 24 February 2015
reading time: 4 min

Every time something new is introduced to the technical world, app creators stare at each other with fear. Especially when this change is as major as new operating system.

Everything spins around two questions:

  • What should be done to prevent bugs from appearing?
  • How to keep up with the changes?

Android 5.0 Lollipop (mobile operating system for devices running for Android which, according to bgr.com, makes around 74% of the European market) was fully released on 3rd November 2014 and was presented on two reference devices: Nexus 6 and Nexus 9.

At first glance, Lollipop has gone through many changes: It is nicer to look at, as it includes more animations. Lock screen is more interactive and user friendly. Notification area had undergone a makeover as well. There is also one key modification – Dalvik (the process virtual machine, operating Android apps) has been replaced by ART (an application runtime environment, operating Android apps), which makes the devices perform faster and far longer.

However, it all adds up to the following conclusions – many changes in crucial areas of the system lead to bugs, crashing of the apps very poor user experience and financial losses.

Lollipop is not as sweet as we would expect. There are many potentially harmful problems that may appear, if enough attention to testing is not paid. Below, you’ll find possible complications that can happen, listed according to their relevance.

  • First of all, programs written in C/C++ may face functionality issues. Apps might crash during start-up. Problems can also be faced in the before-mentioned, runtime environment. Despite its being quicker, it is implemented differently. Furthermore, it uses Java Native Interface in a more strict way. Luckily, there are special applications that can help prevent these problems by looking into the code (e.g. CheckJNI).
  • Current memory allocation mechanism has been replaced with Run-Of-Slots-Allocator, which may lead to StackOverflow Erros whenever apps’ resources are not used correctly. In other words – apps will crash.
  • Some external libraries can also face problems. Libraries like Retrofit will simply stop working. Depending on the library, an update may be a solution. However, bugs like this one, should be observed as early as possible and fixed on a preview version of the new system shared by Google.
  • What is more, Android’s 4.4 release highlighted problems with custom fonts, the same glitch may appear this time. Fonts will not be displayed properly and the layout may look ‘broken’. In extreme cases, apps can become illegible. It was observed in an app done for our Client. We had to change the fonts, which proved to be an easy solution to fixing the bug. However, after several weeks, Google has released a fix for this issue.
  • Similar problems may arise with custom controls. Apps should be designed in accordance to the Material Design to avoid bugs. For example, in one of our apps, a custom scrollbar wasn’t working properly. The problem was solved by updating the software.
  • Also, current interface might need to be updated. The entire app’s interface should go through redesigning to make it consistent with the new system, patterns and app’s new behaviour. It would make apps more usable and let us harness their full potential.

Without sugar-coating, it is clearly visible that Android 5.0 release raised many issues. It is very important to be aware of the new version of the software, as well as, its preview versions.

What is more, updating the software as soon as possible is crucial because it prevents many errors that could potentially occur, when the new version of the system is released. Let’s just hope that with the next sweet Android update, all these problems will be left in the past.

Do you want to know whether your app is safe? Contact our Mobile Department and we will help you make sure that it is.

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