The recent apps menu, which was first introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) is a great way to access all the apps running on your phone, making multi-tasking easier and in the long run making you a lot more productive. In Android 5.0 there’s been some changes to the recents menu, including a name change – it’s now called Overview – and a new visual style, so let’s take a look.
The recents menu used to simply display a vertical list of thumbnails, each of which you could swipe away if you didn’t require them any more, or tap on them to switch into them. The functional component of the recent menu hasn’t changed, you can still do all that, but visually it’s now a roll – think old school rolodex. The rolodex roll is more in line with the Material Design idea of a tactile function on the screen, it adds a sort of depth as you use the rolling animation.
There’s been a number of functional changes in removing unwanted apps in Overview, as well as swiping apps away, there’s now an ‘X’ in the top right corner of each card allowing you to close it, or remove it from the recent apps roll. It’s a small change but it gives options.
Google Search Bar
In a nod to Google’s primary role as a search company, the Google Search bar is now a permanant fixture showing up when you tap the recents button. It’s the standard search bar, meaning you can search by typing your query or tapping the microphone to access voice search.
Persistent Recent Apps
Another change you’ll have to get used to in Android 5.0 is that the recents menu doesn’t clear after a reboot. Your complete history of apps that you’ve been using is now persistent – handy unless you really just want to start with a clean slate; in which case you’ll have to tap the X or swipe each card away. Perhaps a feature request would be a clear all apps for a future Android 5.0.X update?
Chrome Tabs and Draft Emails
One of the functional changes in the way Android handles recents is the way it handles multiple Chrome tabs and even your draft emails. Overview now shows all the open Chrome tabs in your recents roll. But that’s not all, if you’ve been working on a couple of draft emails in your Gmail app, you’ll be able to switch back and forth between them at will.
But these new updates aren’t for everyone. If you’re not a fan of this latest change you can actually disable it within Chrome by going to the settings menu and selecting ‘Merge Tabs and Apps’.
Love it or hate it, this is the new recent apps view. Overview is here to stay for a while.
Check out the Android 5.0 Archive