After first being rolled out in Android One territories last December, Google has formally announced the rollout of Android Lollipop 5.1 to US and European Android smartphone owners, with particular attention being paid to T-Mobile and Verizon customers.
The update includes new features, such as native support for HD Voice calls between compatible devices, native Device Protection functionality across devices running Android 5.1 as well as the Nexus 6 and 9 that allows for owners of lost and stolen devices the capability to have the device remain locked out from use, even when devices are restored to factory settings, until owners recover and sign in on devices with a registered Google Account.
The update also includes long-awaited bugfixes related to previous versions of Lollipop that had previously delayed carrier and manufacturer update rollouts globally. The update also allows for the ability to join Wi-Fi networks and control of paired Bluetooth devices directly from the Quick Settings menu.
Of particular importance in this update is the inclusion of native multiple SIM support in all multiple SIM devices running Android 5.1. Before Google included such functionality into Android, multiple SIM support was dependent on manufacturers and chipmakers with varying levels of software customization usually necessary in Android builds to allow for the capability.
Android did not support multiple SIM cards natively before this update, which also meant that manufacturers rarely kept such devices updated with new versions of Android, if at all, and was a common problem, mainly for handsets sourced from Chinese OEMs.
In fact, one of the reasons that this particular version of Android made its debut in Android One territories months before the US and Western markets is due to the popularity of dual and triple-SIM devices in China, South and Southeast Asia. As MediaTek is Google’s partner in the Android One program, they are also key to developing the native Android support for multiple SIMs in one phone, as their chipsets allow manufacturers to build multiple SIM support in phones at low cost.