After months of waiting, Google has finally announced that the next version of its mobile OS Android will be called Marshmallow. Also, it the next update of the OS will be numbered Android 6.0, instead of Android 5.2 as previously speculated.
Announced at Google I/O 2015, Android Marshmallow brings with it a number of new features to spruce up your smartphones and tablets (provided they get the update). Here we take a look at 10 of the features you can look forward to with the next build of Android…
1. Google Now on Tap
One of the key Android Marshmallow features is Google Now on Tap, a more advanced version of the company’s digital assistant. While Google Now is presently available, on most phones, only via the Search app, Android 6.0 will make it all-pervasive.
This means that you will be able to pull up Google Now to make a quick search across any app while using the smartphone. All you need to do is to select any section on the screen, for example any particular text, and Google Now on Tap will pull up relevant information, including context-based definitions.
2. Chrome Custom Tabs
Many a times, you click a link in an app and it either takes you to the default browser (like Chrome, Opera etc) or opens the link on the in-app browser. With Android 6.0, app makers will be able to integrate Chrome tabs into their apps, but retain the app’s customized look. The toolbar colour, enter & exit animations, and custom actions as well as overflow menu can be picked by the app makers even if the link is of an external website.
One of the key uses for the app makers is that the user stays within the app and gets a seamless experience. For the users, Custom Chrome Tabs saves them the trouble of logging into websites they are already connected to or authenticate permissions more than once. Moreover, this feature has provision to pre-fetch content, so autofill data and passwords can be entered with just a tap.
3. Battery life enhancements
While Android Lollipop’s Project Volta did not bring as much battery life improvement as was promised by Google, the company claims to have brought a fix with Android Marshmallow’s Doze feature. Basically, this feature is said to bring your smartphone to a near-off state when it has been idle for a long time.
In Google’s tests, Android 6.0’s Doze resulted in two times the battery life compared to Android 5.0 on the same device with the same apps.
Though Doze allows important notifications and alarms to pass, it does not let apps refresh in the background, so you won’t be able to get key updates as soon as you pick up your phone after a while.
4. Fingerprint support goes native
While many manufacturers, like Samsung, HTC, OnePlus, Oppo etc, have been using fingerprint sensors in their smartphones for quite some time, Google is making fingerprint sensor support native with Android 6.0.
This will not only add a new security layer to all smartphones (if manufacturers want to add this feature, that is) but also allow payment authentication via Android Pay.
Moreover, fingerprint support can be added to other apps as password for logins.
5. USB Type C and faster charging
This relatively new USB type is backwards-compatible, which means that (like Apple’s Lightning adapter) the charging cable can be inserted in the port either way, making it a convenience for all users.
USB Type C has two other advantages: It allows for faster data transfer rates and charges devices faster. In fact, Google says USB Type C can charge products up to 3-5 times faster than the current crop of microUSB chargers.
6. App permissions
Google has rebooted app permissions with Android 6.0. Marshmallow will allow users to accept or deny permissions to apps as when they are updated; for example, if an app you download wants to access your camera, you can choose to deny to that requirement while approving the others.
This is different from the current setup, where you must accept all permissions if you want to download an app.
If an app adds new features and wants to access more of your phone’s hardware, you can choose to accept to deny those changes while downloading the update.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow also allows you to revisit app permissions; for example, you denied any particular permission initially, you can go in settings and accept it later.
7. Android Pay
Android 6.0 Marshmallow will bring in Android Pay, an NFC-based payment system that will rival Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
Though it will be launched with Android Marshmallow, it will still be available for devices running on Android 4.4 and above.
Based on Google Wallet, this feature allows you to save your credit cards and loyalty cards in one place. When you want to make a transaction, you will be able to authenticate the transaction via your fingerprint or via your virtual card number (given by Android Pay while registering).
8. Direct Share
Sharing on Android is already pretty convenient, but Google is trying to make it easier with Android 6.0 Marshmallow with it a new feature called Direct Share.
Though a lot is not known about this feature yet, we know that Direct Share will enable apps to share content (for example images) to specific contacts with just one click.
So, if you share stuff with particular contacts frequently, the software will recognize this behaviour and show those contacts on top. It is expected that the APIs will allow for more features, but it will eventually depend on the app makers to integrate them.
9. New boot animation
Google is bringing in a little change to the boot animation with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which will now show four colourful circles moving about and morphing into various shapes before settling into the Android logo.
This replaces the Android 5.0 Lollipop boot animation, which had four colourful spheres bouncing about for a few seconds before turning into the Android logo.
10. Customizable toggles
While most custom Android skins allow users to personalize the toggles in the notifications drawer, it is still not a native feature for Google’s mobile operating system.
That is, however, about to change with Android Marshmallow, as users will be able to customize the toggles they want on Nexus devices as well (along with any other smartphone that runs on the stock version of Android 6.0).