On Oct. 15, a 10-foot-tall statue of a lollipop joined sculptures of an ice cream sandwich, a chocolate doughnut, and other confections on Google’s campus in Mountain View, Calif. This was how news came of the latest major update to Android, the operating system that runs on 85 percent of the world’s smartphones: not with a hyped press conference or long lines outside gadget stores, but with the installation of an oversize lawn ornament.
Lollipop is the 13th major version of Android. But it’s the first to be fully developed under Sundar Pichai, the Google senior vice president and confidant of Chief Executive Officer Larry Page who took over the OS operation last year. Along with Lollipop, Pichai introduced three Google-designed devices, including the supersize Nexus 6 smartphone, manufactured by Motorola with a gigantic 6-inch screen, half an inch bigger than the one on the iPhone 6 Plus. Pichai hopes the phone will be the first of a series of new Lollipop-powered computers in living rooms, cars, and just about everywhere else. “We aren’t only trying to ship two [products],” he says, obliquely referring to rival Apple’s well-received pair of new iPhones. “We are trying to enable thousands.”