Android M has arrived – here’s what we need to know
The Android M developer preview was launched today at Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco. Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products at Google, introduced the conference and said that the company had “gone back to basics” with the new version of Android. While Android Lollipop introduced a brand new design and aesthetic, Android M is bringing some much-needed stability and usability improvements, which might not be as immediately exciting, but may prove to be strong long-term additions.
Dave Burke, vice president of engineering at Google, followed Pichai on stage to outline six of the major new features you can expect to see in Android M.
- Which phones will get the Android M update first?
1. App permissions
First up, app permissions. As had previously been speculated, app permissions have been overhauled in Android M, with users now being able to choose to accept or deny individual permissions as they see fit. Permissions have also been simplified.
Permissions will now be requested the first time you try to use a feature, not at the point of installation. “You don’t have to agree to permissions that don’t make sense to you,” Burke said, and used WhatsApp to give an example of how this works.
If you want to record a voice message, WhatsApp will prompt you with a one-time request for permission to use your mic: if you still wish to give it access and record the message, you can, but you don’t have to. Android M is giving users greater control of the information apps can access, and this is a truly positive step forward for Android.
You can modify the permissions granted to apps at a later date in your Settings, or you can view permissions by type and see which apps have that permission granted. It’s all about giving the user complete control over their Android.
2. Web experience
Google has been exploring trends in the way web content is consumed to provide a better user-experience when interacting with websites and apps. “Chrome Custom Tabs is a new feature that gives developers a way to harness all of Chrome’s capabilities, while still keeping control of the look and feel of the experience,” said Burke.
Chrome Custom Tabs will allow apps to open a customized Chrome window on top of the active app, instead of launching the Chrome app separately. This will provide a faster and more intuitive user-experience when navigating between apps and the web.
Chrome Custom Tabs supports automatic sign-in, saved passwords, autofill, and multi-process security to assist the integration of the app and web experience. So, for example, a Pinterest custom tab will have a Pinterest share button embedded in it, can include custom overflow menu options and doesn’t require the Pinterest developers to build their own web browser.
3. Fingerprint support
Google will “standardize support” for fingerprint scanners on phones running Android M. The new functionality will allow the scanner to be used not only to unlock phones, but also to make purchases while shopping in real-life or within Play Store apps.
4. Mobile payments
Android Pay is Google’s new mobile payments system designed to make the checkout process easier and faster. It will work in more than 700,000 stores in the US, and is being supported by American Express, Visa, Mastercard, and Discovery. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are also on board for the new system.
The best thing? Any Android phone with NFC can make use of Android Pay. Android Pay will work with Android devices running Android 4.4 KitKat and above, but fingerprint support for authorizing payments with Android Pay will be an Android M (and onwards) feature.
5. App links
App links are being changed so that apps can open content directly, instead of stopping users every time with a dialog box in which the user has to select the app with which to open the link. How does this work? If you click a Twitter link in an email, for example, the Twitter app will now open directly instead of asking if you want to use Twitter to view it. Clever.
6. Power and charging
Android M makes use of a new function known as Doze to improve device standby time. By using motion detectors, Android will recognize when devices haven’t been interacted with for a while, such as when a person is asleep or a device has been left on a table, to reduce background processes.
Burke said that Google tested two Nexus 9 devices, one running Lollipop and one running the Android M preview, and learned that M will provide up to two-times longer standby time. Even in Doze mode, your Android can still start alarms or notify you of priority notifications.
Android M also supports USB Type-C which provides faster charging, and lets users charge other devices with their phone.
Android M release date
The Android M Developer Preview is available today for Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, and the final version is due to launch in Q3, 2015.
What else is in new in Android M?
Google Now – Google Now has been improved upon once again in Android M. Focusing on three key ares: being aware of different contexts, providing answers and helping you take action, Google Now is now smarter than ever.
Google Now’s context awareness understand over 100 million different places, so when you ask ”How far is it to there?” Google Now know exactly which ”there” you’re referring to. This awareness is compunded by Google’s Knowledge Graph, which understands one billion different entities, from sports teams to gas stations, TV shows to recipes.
Google Now is also rolling out a pilot program called ”Now on Tap” with 100 popular apps. Now on Tap provides Google Now-like content right where you are, without having to leave the app you’re in. So if you’re in Spotify and say ”Ok Google, what is his real name?” Now on Tap will know you’re talking about the musician you’re listening to and provide search results right there an then.
The same goes for content in emails. If someone asks you a question about a restaurant and to not forget something on your way home, Now on Tap can automatically pop up a restaurant card with Maps info, Yelp, OpenTable and the dialer, as well as offer to set a reminder for whatever it was you were supposed to not forget.
Google Chrome – Chrome is also leaner and faster than ever before. Initially revamped with Android One devices in mind, where stable and speedy internet connections are not always possible, Chrome’s new optimizations are set to arrive for everyone.
Chrome is now aware of network strength and can modify what you see as a result. For example, if your connection is bad, you might see colored squares rather than preview images in Search results. Optimized web pages will load four times faster and use 80 percent fewer bytes. You’ll also see a memory usage reduction of up to 80 MB. Chrome will also support offline mode.
Google Photos – As expected, Google pulled the wraps off its new Google Photos service. Previously a part of Google+, Google Photos is now standalone photo and video storage and sharing service that provides unlimited free storage for up to 16 MP photos and 1080p video. That is seriously impressive.
The Google Photos service stores high-quality compressed versions of your photos and movies but doesn’t store anything on your device, so you can search through thousands of photos at high speed and without bogging your device down with gigabytes of photos.
Popular features like Auto-Awesome and Stories are a key highlight, accessible through a new Assistant feature, which will automatically suggest creative uses of your images and footage. Through simple pinch gestures you can see tiled images for particular days, weeks, months or even years and then zoom right back in at any point you like.
Google Photos is also powerful for search, as you’d expect. You can search by People, Places, Things and Types, which are all automatically created, and you can drill down in each of those categories to see, for example, every picture you have of a particular person, all without ever tagging them.
Sharing is also a breeze. You don’t even need you contacts to have the Google Photos app. You can simply share a link that they can view in Chrome. If they are logged in they can easily download an entire album in seconds.
Are you impressed by what Google has been up to in Android M? What would you have liked to have seen?
Via – AndroidPit