The future of Android is here. Android M (I’m still hoping for Muffin) is the software that will power Android smartphones beginning in the autumn of 2015. Aesthetically, everything looks similar, but there’s lots buried under that Material Design exterior. Let’s take a look.
Google’s Senior VP Sundar Pichai introduced M saying that Android focused “on polish and quality” for its newest release. One of its first big updates was app permissions. This gives users the right to accept and revoke permissions to apps for enhanced security and privacy. This is done through a new dashboard where you can go through and pick and choose what an app can and can’t do. Google also says that this will make updates to apps for developers more seamless and painless. Basically, a win-win.
Android is also bringing Chrome Custom Tabs to Android. What all that insidery mumbo-jumbo means that apps can now run closely with the Chrome browser, having the app actually running over top of the app itself. But this also means that you get some of Chrome’s excellent capabilities such as saved passwords, autofill suggestions, and multi-process security.
Developers can now link between apps, this means you want always have to see that infamous “Open With?” menu option. This means it goes right to app because Android to check apps to make sure it supports the capability. Android just saved you a click.
One of Android biiiig updates for M is Android Pay. As its simple name suggests, it’s just like Apple Pay, the tap-to-pay service for iPhones. The actual card number is never shared with the merchants and can use all major credit cards. Obviously, NFC is needed for you to use this neat-o feature at 700,000 shops across the U.S. Sadly there's nothing about a UK launch yet. You can read all about it right here.
Of course, secure payments means Android needs a secure way for authentication. Yep, fingerprint sensor support for Android.
And when we’re talking “polish and quality,” hopefully that would mean extending battery life—something every smartphone in the world could use. Android has a new feature called Doze. With Android M, the device will use motion detection to see if it’s been left alone for an expended period of time. If it has, the smartphone will go into a “deep sleep.” This will essentially trade off app freshness for battery life but will still be able to sound of alarms and delivery high-priority messages like always.
Google says they loaded to Nexus 6, one with Lollipop and one with M, and the new software gave the Google phone double the battery life in standby. Ok, you have my attention.
But that’s not all the charging news. USB-Type C is also coming to Android (obviously), which is expected news but great news nonetheless.
Google’s also been hard at work toiling away on Google Now by inviting tons of third-party developers to join in on the convenient virtual assistant. However, in Android M, it’s getting even better. You can now double tap on the home screen which basically tells Google Now you need help. This is called Now on Tap (: /), and Aparna Chennapragada, director of the Google Now team, went through a few scenarios using the new M-powered Google Now. You can check the name of music artists, quickly create Google Card reminders to pick up laundry, learn more about a movie some just emailed you about, or helping you not sound like an idiot at a fancy Italian restaurant. All great things!
Dave Burke, the vice prez of engineering at Android, closed out his speech saying that M is all about “the little things,” it’s some fine-tuning here and there, but a necessary step to make Android that much better.