Google has announced Android L for smartphones and tablets, so how does it compare to the current Android 4.4 KitKat? Find out what the difference is in our Android L vs Android 4.4 KitKat comparison review. See also: 5 most exciting new features in Android L.

Android L vs KitKat review

Android L was announced at Google I/O 2014 last month and the developer preview was released the following day. We've installed it on our Nexus 5 in order to compare it with the previous version of Android, KitKat.

We've compared the stock editions of Android so be aware that even though you may have a device running on KiKat, it could look very different due to a manufacturer's own user interface overlay or skin. See also: Android L vs iOS 8 comparison preview.

Android L vs Android 4.4 KitKat comparison: Availability

Although it's simply known as Android L, the new Android will arrive this autumn – by which point Google may have given it a name following the alphabetical list of sweet treats. Lollipop is the favourite but maybe Google hasn't announced the name yet because it's working on another partnership following KitKat with Nestle. Maybe the next version will be called Lucky Charms. Anyway, Google is likely to announce a Nexus device to launch Android L on – probably a Nexus 8.

KitKat is, of course, already available but that doesn't mean your phone or tablet is running it. It's one of the downsides of Android. If you have got version 4.4 KitKat then there's a good chance you'll get Android L but it's no guarantee and when the upgrade will arrive depends on many things.

We'll have more details on this later in the year but if you have a Nexus 5 or Nexus 7 you can download the developer preview of Android L now. See How to install Android L now.

Android L release date

Android L vs Android 4.4 KitKat comparison: Design

Android L represents the biggest design change for the mobile operating system in a long time – probably since version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Going by the number that doesn't seem like long ago but it launched in 2011. Check out our Android L vs KitKat video preview.

Google has introduced a new 'Material Design' look for Android, which has also been offered to developers for use in their Android apps. Android L brings more depth to the operating system's appearance using shadows, light and also automatically generates touches of colour based on the content being displayed. There are also plenty of new animations making the OS feel different.

There are many design changes, a lot of which will be obvious as soon as you see the interface. Check out Google's video for Material Design below and see what Android L looks like in the screenshots compared to KitKat – all taken from the Nexus 5.

KitKat is on the left and Android L is on the right – the dialler and contacts list are great examples of what Material Design looks like compared to the old KitKat interface.

Android L vs Android 4.4 KitKat comparison: Lockscreen

The lockscreen is the first thing you see when you switch on your device and it looks pretty different in Android L with the addition of notifications. You swipe up to unlock, left to launch the camera and right to open the dialler. The latter is a new feature.

Android L vs KitKat lockscreen

Next Page: Homescreen comparison