Android M: What’s New?

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on November 9, 2015, Android

With Android’s new Marshmallow operating system version now released into the wild, what can you expect to see? There’s a whole bunch of new features for you to play around with, so whether you’ve already got the update, or are eagerly awaiting it, we’re here to tell you the most awesome new stuff that Marshmallow has to offer.

Google Now on Tap

Alrighty, let’s start with the really big one. Google Now on Tap is the biggest new feature in Marshmallow, and it’s amazing. Seriously. You’re probably familiar with Google Now already, as your phone’s personal assistant (in the same way that Siri is for an iPhone). But Google Now on Tap takes things to a whole different level.

What’s the deal? Well, Google Now has now been given complete access to your phone, apps and all. Which means that instead of hitting the Google Now widget on your screen, or speaking to wake your assistant up, you can now use him (her?) anywhere and everywhere you want.

In real life terms this means that whenever you’re inside an app Google Now can supply you with handy info. Got a meeting at a restaurant? Google Now on Tap will register the restaurant name inside your calendar app and pop up with information like location and reviews. All you need to do is press and long hold on the home button from your calendar. Checking out a story on the web about a cool new gadget? Press and hold that home button and Google Now on Tap will supply you with even more info about what you’re looking at, and maybe a few shopping options too. Neat, right?

Doze

Doze is maybe our favourite addition to Marshmallow, and it’s basically a battery saving setting, but a very, very intelligent one. Doze will monitor your device usage and save power accordingly. What does this mean for you? More than you might think.

Say you work in an office and leave your mobile sitting on your desk for most of the day, using your computer for nearly everything but phone calls. Your phone is still draining battery power, even though it’s little used, since background apps and updates are all still running. With Doze this is no longer the case. By monitoring your usage Doze will know that you’re not likely to be needing your phone anytime soon and will suspend those background apps, saving you valuable battery juice.

Google are claiming that Doze can DOUBLE the stand by time of your phone, which is pretty impressive. And you’ll have all that extra power saved up to use on Candy Crush during your evening commute. Sweet.

And speaking of battery saving, you can now enable battery saving mode on an app by app basis, rather than just for your whole phone, meaning that you can keep the apps that are important running at full strength, whilst saving power on those that you don’t care about too much.

An All New App Menu

Traditionally, Android has had horizontally scrolling app menus. Meaning that when you want to find an app you need to scroll through page after page. One of the biggest aesthetic changes in Marshmallow is that your app menu is now a vertical list that you’ll need to scroll up and down (sort of like your contacts list). Apps are arranged alphabetically, and you can’t move them around, meaning that you can always find what you need. And if you can’t, don’t worry, a search box has been added at the top of the page so you can simply type the name of what you’re looking for instead. All in all, finding apps on your menu is a whole lot easier (particularly if you’re a big app downloader).

Charging and Touching

There are two changes in Marshmallow that your phone might not be currently able to support, but that are definite pluses for future phones. One of these is that Marshmallow now supports USB-C charging. USB-C is a new form of USB plug that’s small and reversible, meaning you’ll never need to fiddle around with getting your cable in the right way round again.

Fingerprint support is also in built in Marshmallow, whether or not your phone itself actually supports it. That means that fingerprint locking and unlocking, as well as authorisation for payment systems is likely to become standard in the next generation of Android phones.

Individual App Permissions

You know when you download an app from Google Play and you get a whole long list of permissions that the app requires? In Lollipop you had to accept the whole list or nothing. In Marshmallow, however, you can accept or deny each individual permission. This means that if you don’t want to give Google Maps access to your camera, then you don’t have to. It might not sound too exciting, but this is actually quite a big update, and gives you a lot more control over your privacy and what apps can and cannot see on your phone.

Chrome Inside Apps

Finally, Chrome can now work inside apps, which sounds confusing but really isn’t. Before when there was an internet link inside an app you hit the link and were then redirected to your internet browser and then had to wait for the page to load. Boring. But no longer. Chrome will now preload the web page and then take you to a Chrome tab INSIDE the app that you’re using. Whether or not this is faster sort of depends on your internet connection, but it’s definitely a smoother user experience.

Android Marshmallow has a lot to offer, and it’s definitely an update that you’re going to want to download as soon as it’s available to you. There are, of course, a host of other small changes, including a new stylish font for the Google clock, and the ability to add a message to your lock screen. The bottom line here is that Marshmallow is better, more efficient, more intuitive and faster than ever before!