Android M is here! Ok, the developer preview is here, but still. It’s got Android Pay. It’s got battery-saving superpowers. It’s got a more powerful Google Now. Here’s the very first look at Android M in the subtle art of the GIF.
Pick-and-Choose App Permissions
In today’s Android Lollipop world, if you download an app that needs to access a lot of things on your smartphone, you’re greeted with a huge menu of stuff the app has to plug into. Say no, and guess what—you aren’t downloading the app. Now Google is giving us power to pick and choose what apps we can and can’t access. There’s also a new dashboard that lets you retroactively revoke certain permissions. It’s something iOS has had for awhile now, and it’s great to see that Android is now onboard.
Android Pay and Fingerprint Authentication
Android Pay is a long-awaited update to Google Wallet that’s taking on on Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and all those other smartphone-based payment systems out there. The GIF above is showing off fingerprint authentication (another new feature) for payments using the Target app. Android Pay creates a virtual number for your cards and never exchanges the numbers with the merchant, meaning it should be more secure than your run-of-the-mill credit card. Android Pay will launch with over 700,000 retail stores supporting the platform, though don't hold your breath for a UK launch.
Chrome Custom Tabs
Take your favorite app—for this example let’s say Pinterest—and click on an embedded link. That link will now have a snazzy new animation that opens into Chrome. This Chrome page, which runs on top of the app, is designed like Pinterest’s app so you retain the same user experience. The best part is that the app asks Chrome to pre-fetch the content so that it loads nearly instantaneously when you click the link. At what point does smartphone browsing become better than web browsing?
Now on Tap
This might be one of the coolest things demoed on stage today. This is what Google’s calling Now on Tap, a new feature within Google Now that’s always ready to assist when you double-tap the home button. In the example above, an email asks if you want to see Tomorrowland. Double tap the home button and Google Now pops up in the bottom with quick information like ratings, trailers, and more information available from the apps on your device like Flixster or IMDb. Google Now can help you schedule events, pronounce fancy food correctly, or get more information when you tap on images of recognisable people—it knew who Hugh Laurie was! Google Now is quickly becoming Android’s biggest differentiator. So much so, even Apple wants in.