Okay, so Google I/O is now over and we’ve seen the latest thing that’s about to come to Android in a matter of few months. There was too much show during the whole 3-days long conference, but the most notable announcement was, of course, the announcement of Android M. Google has packed a lot in this version, and we’re going to take a look at major features that were shown during the keynote at opening day of conference:
More control on app permissions
Perhaps the biggest flaw in Android app ecosystem was its all-or-none approach towards app permissions. When installing an app, you could either grant it all the permissions that it needed or you could simply stay away from it completely. That’s going to change with Android M. Now you’ll be able to install any application with only a few permissions granted, and the app will ask for additional permissions when it needs them to execute any particular action. This will allow you to understand the effect of each permission on your data and the depth of data and hardware that you’re sharing with any app rather than the current scene in which most users stay unaware of the effect that each granted permission leaves on their device and data.
Just like social networking, Google has made several attempts at payment processing too. The latest one is Android Pay, revealed with Android M at this year’ I/O conference. Simply put, it’s Google’s answer to Apple Pay. The payment processing service will allow users to pay on checkout counters using NFC and also in apps that support Android Pay. What will happen to Google Wallet after its rollout is still unclear.
Fingerprint sensor support on API Level
Android devices with fingerprint scanner have been launched earlier, but until now that support wasn’t integrated in Android at an API level due to which its functionality was limited. That’s going to change with Android M as Google has finally included the support for fingerprint scanner in Android API itself. It’ll allow users to unlock their devices, authorize payments via Android Pay or even sign into sensitive apps like password managers, all by using their fingerprints. If your device has a fingerprint scanner, it’s about to get a lot smarter after once your phone is updated to Android M.
The current sharing mechanism in Android is not bad, but sharing with common contacts could be made much easier than it currently is, although very few people actually realized it. However, Google is continuing the improvement of its Android OS in every direction, and that includes sharing mechanism too. The new addition includes a feature called Direct Share that’ll allow you to share content with common contacts with a single button. For example, if you frequently share your pet’s photos with your kids on Hangouts then Android will recognize this habit and will start providing a single button to share any image directly with your kids.
Improved Text Selection
Even hardcore lovers of mobile devices who prefer them over computers can’t deny one thing – selecting text on that small screen often remains a hassle. Google noted it and has improved it a lot in Android M. Text selection has now been improved to select one word forward as you drag your fingers on the screen. If you want to select any particular character then you can drag your finger backwards and it’ll start selecting on a per-character basis. Another noteworthy addition is a floating toolbar that’ll provide the Cut, Copy and Paste buttons right there where you selected the text. This will save you from the hassle of playing with those weird icons in the Actions bar.
Simplified Volume Controls
Google might’ve screwed up the volume controls in Lollipop, but it’s correcting that mistake in Android M. Voice controls have once again been simplified, and they look much better.
Support for Reversible USB-C ports
USB Type-C standard, the latest update to standard USB ports, will now be supported by Android devices as Google has included its support in Android M. This means you may soon start seeing devices with Reversible USB-C ports in the market.First advantage of this standard is easily visible in the name itself – these ports are reversible so you’ll be able to connect them from any side without the need of fiddling with them like microUSB ports. But the biggest advantage is faster charging – devices that support this standard will charge three to five times faster than other devices with similar hardware.
It has been quite sometime since Google tried something serious on power efficiency front. Last time we saw a project dedicated solely to power efficiency was at the time of Jelly Bean. Now with Android M Google is focusing on it once again, this time with Doze. If you keep your phone locked for a long time it’ll start to power down automatically. This will be achieved by saving the power that apps use to remember where you left last time, which means when you wake up your device again you may not necessarily land in your apps where you left them. However, the power that you left in your device will be nearly intact. According to Google, this new power saving feature has helped in doubling the battery life of Nexus 9.
Google Now on Tap
Android community already loves Google Now a lot, which is becoming better and better with time. Android M brings several new additions to Google Now, but the most notable one is Google Now on Tap. No matter what is it on your phone’s screen, if you need more information about it you can simply hold the Home button and Google Now will push a card with more information about that thing. Reading a message from your friend who asked you for some movie recommendations? Just hold that home button and Google now will push a card with relevant data from IMDB. Found a photo of any celebrity you don’t know much about? Hold that same Home button and you’ll have a card with more information about him/her.
There’s no shortage of new features in Android M. There’re 55 of them. I’ve talked about the biggest ones here. There’s no doubt that just like other versions of the OS, this release will also take the Android experience to next level. What feature makes you excited? Do let us know.