The next iteration of Android will start hitting devices later this year (2014). Naturally, every roll out of a major Android release is big news — but not quite this big. Android L marks some major changes for the Android ecosystem. We’re talking about a serious shift in design. According to Sundar Pichai, head of Android, L is to be one of the biggest upgrades to Android yet. The new design scheme will be a much flatter look, but every animation, every shadow, every single element will look “real.” Shadow gradients, 3D tiles, and a much more consistent look and feel will spread across the whole of Android.

From everything Google is saying, this will be the most intuitive version of Android to date. Other than a total overhaul of the look, you’ll find plenty of change in the platform. Other bits and pieces you should expect:

  • Notification panel and lock screen integration
  • Prioritized notifications (based on what you look at most)
  • Interlocking apps (apps can “talk” to one another)
  • Major performance boost
  • Default to ART runtime
  • Much improved battery life (thanks to Project Volta)
  • Improved Android wear experience
  • Android TV integration

There’s plenty more goodness in the list, but that should be enough to get you hoping for an “L” upgrade to your device as soon as possible.

The big question: “Will device X get L?”

This question is on the minds of almost every Android user. Will my device get “L”? As you’ve all come to know, OS upgrades are dependent on a couple of major variables:

  • Carrier
  • Device

Not all devices are L-compatible. Most devices manufactured in 2014 should be. Here is a short list of compatible devices that are likely a lock for “L”:

  • All Google Play edition phones
  • Nexus 5
  • Nexus 7
  • LG G Pad
  • All HTC devices released after the M7
  • LG G3
  • Motorola Moto X/G/E
  • Samsung Galaxy S 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S 4 (this will roll out well after the 5)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3/4
  • Sony Xperia Z1/Z2/Z3

OnePlus has also claimed that all of their newer phones will be getting the “L” update — but there is no indication as to which devices and when.

The “when” is the tricky part, due to the carriers. The order in which these devices (by carrier) will most likely see “L” looks like:

  1. Google devices
  2. HTC
  3. Motorola
  4. Samsung
  5. LG
  6. Sony

This order, of course, is totally thrown out of whack because of carriers. Some carriers update much faster than others. For example, if you’re on a contract with AT&T, expect your upgrade to “L” to be delayed. Of the three major US carriers, my best guess for “L” rollouts would be (based on previous major update rollouts):

  1. Verizon
  2. Sprint
  3. AT&T

The big “when?”

The rollout of “L” should begin around November or December of 2014. That will, most likely, be for Google devices only. I would suspect that most other devices won’t see the “L” update until the beginning of the new year (although a Verizon-branded HTC M8 update could happen sooner).

No matter when the update occurs — all Android users should be excited about what may be the most significant improvement to the platform to date. If your current device doesn’t support “L” and you’re getting ready to purchase a new device, make sure you land one that does support “L” or wait until after the “L” release to purchase. It will be worth the wait.

Are you excited for the newest iteration of Android? If so, what feature(s) are you most looking forward to?