With Google I/O wrapping up, there’s a lot of new information to take in from the yearly developer conference. We can now officially expect to see Android “L” unveiled at some point this year, although we still don’t know the official name of the new version (“Lollipop” still seems to be the unofficial winner). We were even able to get a sneak preview of some of the design changes of Android L, which includes a “Material Design” overhaul and heavily revolves around cards. Like many mobile software updates, it would seem that Google is sticking with the flat and minimalistic theme.
But more importantly than design, I believe that the real charm of Android L comes in the form of Project Volta - a battery saving feature that is said to be able to give users 90 extra minutes of battery life. Perhaps it doesn’t sound like much from the get-go, but desperate times call for desperate measures - such is the case when your battery is quickly draining and you’re nowhere near a charger.
Battery life has long been an issue with smartphones. Most smartphones today can at least get people through a typical 12-hour day, but it’s still a far cry from the days of flip phones where the battery could last you anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on usage. While we don’t have the technology to create the super batteries we want just yet, we do have the technology to alter the battery-draining software in times of need. Such has already been exampled in the case of Extreme Power Saving Mode in the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the HTC One M8. Sure, your phone gets severely limited when it turns on and might not look as flashy, but at least you can still use it. That’s the important part, right?
If you read up on my fellow editor Evan’s article earlier today documenting his experience with the Galaxy S5’s Ultra Power Saving Mode, you probably already know that the phone is able to last quite some time even on a small charge. Project Volta won’t be able to give you 3.5 days worth of usage at just 28%, no; but it’s still a good option to have when you suddenly realize that you need your phone and you’re running out of time. 90 minutes is still plenty of time, and can make a big difference.
Battery life is one of the biggest “issues” that our smartphones face today, in my opinion. I’ve always been pretty vocal about sacrificing some of the more gimmicky features in order for bigger battery life, and anytime I come across polls that ask users what they would like changed most in their phones, battery life is usually the number one option. Although we have plenty of promises of quick-charging batteries and long-lasting batteries made out of wonder materials on the horizon, the truth is that we’re still not entirely sure just how long we’ll have to wait before we’re actually able to see these amazing changes in our phones. Until then, we must rely on software to help improve battery life - and an emergency battery saving button is certainly a good start.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Project Volta? Do you wish that Google had made the feature last longer, or do you think 90 minutes is sufficient enough? What were some of your favorite announcements during Google I/O? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!