The Android M developer preview was recently launched at Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco. At the conference, Google senior VP of Products Sundar Pichai said the company had “gone back to basics” with this new version of Android. While Android Lollipop introduced a new visual aesthetic, Android M brings some much-needed stability and usability improvements which might not be as eye-catching, but may prove to be significant additions for a while to come.
We all want better battery life and any improvement is good. Indeed, manufacturers like Samsung have angered some customers by making the battery non-removable. Well that might not be such a big deal thanks to Doze mode in Android M. This monitors when the device isn’t being used to put it into a deep sleep which uses less power and can double your battery life.
We love Android Lollipop and one of the best things about Google’s OS is the way you can change things around exactly how you like. However, Lollipop doesn’t let you customise the Quick Settings to the ones you want to you the most and in the layout which suits you. Well the SystemUI Tuner in Android M lets you do exactly that. (This needs switching on in Developer Mode currently).
Uninstall apps quickly
A small but handy change is the ability to uninstall apps straight from the home screen. You now get the choice between simply removing the shortcut/icon or actually uninstalling the app from the device entirely.
Google Now is a great feature of Android and it gets even better in Android M. Now on Tap means you can long press the home button wherever you are you call up Google Now. Better still, you don’t need to navigate away from the app you’re using and it will already have a good idea of what help you need based on what you’ve been doing – eg. Directions to a location after chatting to a friend about meeting up.
We’re still a little way off mobile phone payments being the norm but Android M will be part of the drive to this kind of future. Like Apple and Samsung, Google has announced its own contactless payment system. Android Pay will be baked into Android M allowing you to make purchases with a simple tap (via NFC) without even opening an app.
We’ve already got fingerprint scanners on numerous devices so it might not seem like a new feature but Android M natively supports them. This means you’ll be able to use them to authorise payments via Android Pay and confirm Play store purchases. Developers can also use the functionality within their apps.
One annoying thing about Android is downloading app requires agreeing to all its permissions which might include things you don’t agree with, like access to your contacts when it’s an endless runner game. Well Android M is going to change that with the ability to pick and choose which permissions you’re happy with for each individual app. You’ll also be able to accept or deny a specific permission as and when an app requests it.
If you send links, photos or files to the same contacts then Android M will start adding them to the Share menu to speed up the process. It’s a bit like having favourite contacts when you open the Dialler app to call someone.
Not only is Do Not Disturb (DND) part of Quick Settings in Android M, the volume control has been tweaked for the better. You can now easily control the volume of calls, notifications and alarms with three separate sliders – simple but effective.
Ok, it’s a hardware feature but Android M supports USB Type C which is good news for future devices – potentially starting with the Nexus 5 2015. You can plug it in either way around, it will charge your device quicker and even allow you to charge other devices.