Google Launches Android 5.1 Lollipop With HD Calling, Better Protection For Stolen Phones

The vast majority of Android devices are running either Jelly Bean (4.1.x to 4.3) or KitKat (4.4.x), but even so, Google continues to develop its open source baby. So while most of you are waiting on an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google has already unwrapped the next incremental upgrade, Android 5.1 (still Lollipop).

The update includes the usual round of stability and performance enhancements, though it also offers some new features, such as support for multiple SIM cards (handy for international travelers), Device Protection, and high definition (HD) voice, assuming you have a compatible handset.


What Device Protection brings to the table is an added layer of security. The way it works is, if your device is lost or stolen, it will remain locked until you sign in with your Google account. Even if a thief resets your stolen phone to factory settings, they still won't be able to use it. Google says the feature will be available on most Android phones and tablets running Android 5.1, which of course includes the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9.

Getting back to HD calling, if you own a supported handset like the Nexus 6, you can expect higher quality phone calls on T-Mobile and Verizon, though it requires that both ends of the conversation use a compatible phone with Android 5.1.

"HD Voice delivers clearer, natural-sounding audio when both parties are using HD Voice-enabled phones that are connected to our 4G LTE network. HD Voice is included in your existing voice plan at no additional charge, but must be added to your account in My Verizon. HD Voice calls are billed as standard voice minutes, according to your plan," Verizon says.

Finally, Android 5.1 includes some conveniences, like being able to join Wi-Fi networks and control your paired Bluetooth devices directly from Quick Settings. You can expect the rollout to happen today in OTA udpates.