After playing around with the developer preview of Android L on our Nexus 5, we all got pretty excited about what is coming up in Android 5.0 Lollipop. The nice part is that several cool features are already possible on your existing smartphone. Some are simple apps, some are pre-existing settings you may not have known about and some require just a little more effort. [Update: with a new Xposed module, you can also get the new navigation buttons][Update 2: the L Keyboard has now been removed from the Google Play Store. We have an alternative download link for you below]
This is super cool. As soon as the preview was released, some clever develoepr scoured the code for anything that was fully functional and that could be scraped out and released. The cool new stock Android keyboard was the first to emerge, thanks to Shen Ye. [Update: the L Keyboard has been removed from the Google Play Store. Here is an alternative download link for L Keyboard on the Amazon App Store]
This has been a developer option since Android 4.4 debuted. Not all apps support ART yet so you may lose some functionality, but considering that as soon as Android L is released ART will be the default runtime, you may as well get on board right now and get some serious performance improvements. According to Google, ART is twice the speed of Dalvik. Go to Settings > About Phone > tap Build Number repeatedly until Developer Options appear, then scroll down and switch your runtime to ART.
Ok, this may not let you respond directly from a lockscreen notifications as it will in Android L, but we have to let Google keep a few things for the official release, right? NiLS will nevertheless drop your notifications straight onto your lockscreen so you don't need to unlock to read them.
For advanced users: root access and familiarity with flashing zips and modifying root files is recommended.
You can also get the cool new Android boot animation. You have two choices, download the flashable zip boot animation to your device and flash it through recovery or you can grab the non-flashable boot animation file and replace the existing boot animation file with the new one in your root file manager (make sure you set the permissions of the new animation to be identical to the original). Then just reboot to see the cool new Android boot animation!
Google Now Launcher with Material Design theme
First you need to install the Android L version of the Google Now Launcher (just look for GoogleHome.apk in the list of all the downloadable Android L apps). Then you need to manually change the build.prop file to get the Material Design theme (you need to be rooted for this to work, of course). In your root file explorer go to /system and open build.prop then change the line from ro.build.version.codename=REL to ro.build.version.codename=L (just delete the RE) save and reboot. You should now have the Material themed launcher. Beware: changing the build.prop file can have some weird effects (which are usually reversible), like losing LTE. If you have any issues head to the original XDA Developers thread for technical assistance as I'm no programmer!
Bonus: Android L wallpapers
Perhaps not the most exciting Android L feature but still, everyone likes to have the latest and greatest wallpaper and the developer preview is no different. Hit the host link to download the Android L wallpapers (there's the standard KitKat wallpapers there too).
[Update: Android L navigation keys]
I just came across the following post from XDA Developers that there is now an Xposed module that will get you the Playstation-looking navigation keys from Android L as well. Of course, you need to have the Xposed framework installed, but if you've got that already, all you need to do is download the APK, enable it and reboot.
Don't forget that you can also install the latest Google Play Services version they discussed at Google I/O as well, with multiple changes including Play Services now being the new security patch delivery vehicle for Google. No more waiting for firmware updates to get the latest security updates! This update may also be required for some of the other Android L apps to work properly.
What is your favorite feature of Android L so far? What else do you want to see in the next Android version?