Our first real sign of Android 5.1 appeared just over a month ago, as the release apparently started showing up on new Android One handsets being sold in India. But when we would see distribution really go wide? And when would Nexus handsets start getting their updates – you know, the ones we expect these new Android builds to debut on in the first place? Well, a tweet from HTC a few weeks back hinted that Google might be preparing its release for sometime in March, and today Google makes that official, announcing Android 5.1.
What’s new in Android 5.1? Google’s only mentioned a few changes in its formal post sharing the news, but they’re some big ones. For instance, we see the arrival of baked-in support for HD voice calls. Compatible devices will be able to make and receive calls with audio quality far exceeding what you’d get from even the best dumbphone of yesteryear.
Device Protection is designed to help keep your hardware secure, requiring authentication via your Google account on locked devices even following a full system reset. It doesn’t sound like this will work will all existing hardware – the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 being notable exceptions – but look for it in native Android 5.1 phones and tablets going forward.
You’ll also find dual-SIM support, letting Lollipop take full advantage of hardware with such extended connectivity options. And those much-anticipated Quick Settings tweaks for Bluetooth and WiFi – letting you manage paired devices and APs – show up, as well.
As of now, we haven’t spotted any Android 5.1 factory images over on the Nexus devices support page, but with Google indicating that 5.1 is headed out as of today, we imagine we’ll be seeing at least some arrive in the next few hours.