Android M (6.0) – 10 New Features We Love

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Android M, the next version of Google’s mobile OS was recently highlighted during the company’s I/O event and it sure packs an awesome set of goodies. You might just ditch that antiquated device you’ve been holding on to for way too long once you see what it has to offer.

It’s true that each new Android update has brought improvements but 6.0 will come with some groundbreaking new features that will take the smartphone experience to a whole new level and make this ecosystem even more popular than it already is.

With that said, here are our favorite 10 features Android M brings to the table. There are certainly more than the ones listed below, but we had to pick, and we do love being picky!

App Drawer

Android M - App Drawer

Everyone already knows the app drawer so let’s just get this one out of the way first. Actually, you can even get it on older Android versions right now, unless you’re already rocking Android M Preview on your Nexus device.

The app drawer introduces vertical scrolling and displays apps alphabetically. Because it simply makes sense, at the top you will see the last four apps you downloaded and there’s also a much needed search bar. Perhaps, before or sometime after the official launch of Android M, the folks at Google might just let us customize those 4 apps.

Android Pay & Fingerprint Support

Android M - Android Pay

Android Pay is Google Wallet’s replacement and it will be preloaded in Android M – for Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile users.

It supports all major payment methods and it lets you purchase via apps and NFC terminals. It’s already supported by American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Discover and it will be available in over 700,000 stores in the U.S.

Android Pay will also have support for fingerprint reader, altough you’ll only be able to make use of it, if your device comes with a finger scanner. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to use fingerprint authentication to verify Play Store purchases as well as unlock your device.

Direct Share

Android M - Direct share

This new capability can be implemented by devs through a set of new APIs. These allows them to add granular sharing options, but it also means the feature is not built into the OS, and may or may not be supported on a per app basis.

Thanks to direct share you could, for example see a list of people you frequently share stuff with in your favorite chat app and from then on, share more items quickly via these icons. Like I already said, the feature can be implemented in a variety of apps, although it will ultimately be the developer’s decision.

In the end, any app that has content worth sharing could benefit from this capability. Hopefully, developers will see the potential and implement it, so we’ll benefit from direct share in more than just a few random apps.

Doze

Android M - Battery

We’re really excited about this one. Doze is a smart feature that harnesses the power of your device’s sensors, detecting when it hasn’t been moved for a long amount of time. Once this condition is met, it automatically shuts down processors and disables various services such as network access and WiFi.

While ‘doze’ is active, it will however perform regular scans for updates and new messages. You might already suspect the most important effect brought by this feature – increased battery life, and a lot of it! According to Google, they tested Doze on a Nexus 9 and it managed to double the device’s battery life.

Now on Tap

Android M - Now On Tap

Google Now integration becomes much more powerful with Now on Tap. Based on what you’re viewing on your screen, this virtual assistant offers contextual information plus it lets you ask non-specific questions since it already knows what you’re talking about. Say you’ve been listening to Rihanna’s latest hit and you can’t remember what was the first song that made her popular. You can ask your question without having to mention her name – the assistant already knows you’re referring to her.

Now on Tap also lets you, for example, tap on an image of a personality and learn more about him or her, tap on a movie’s name to get its IMDB profile and other similar information Google Now already provides, but with far less steps to get to it.

Google says Now on Tap is only in its infancy right now, and we’ll see it leveraging the in-app context even more in the coming months.

App Permissions

Android M - App permissions settings

Installing apps right now from Google Play can be really confusing at least when it comes to the initial app permissions screen. Besides the fact it usually shows a laundry list of app permission requests, users get no control over them. It’s pretty much a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of deal.

In Android M things are going to be so much different. App permissions are grouped into 8 categories such as Camera, Contacts, Location, Phone, SMS and so on. an installed app will ask permission to access one of these categories the first time it actually needs to use it. Thus no more outrageous permission requests we can’t control. Moreover, you get to see the complete list of apps that can access all of the 8 areas of your phone and enable/disable any of them whenever you want.

Uninstall Apps on the Homescreen

Android M - Uninstall apps on home screen

Hurrah for this one! Finally we’ll be able to simply long press any app on Android M’s homescreen and uninstall it or just remove its shortcut. No more separate actions for removing the shortcut and then scrolling through the app drawer to actually find the app and uninstall it.

A really simple feature, that Android users really needed – better late than never!

Dark Theme

Android M - Dark theme

I can easily tolerate a lot of white on my desktop, but on phones and tablets not so much. I also hear the same from most other people. A lot of apps offer dark themes as a premium feature, so I guess I’m not mistaken on this one.

Android M will offer a dark theme for all its settings and menus – besides going easy on the eyes, darker colors can save battery on AMOLED displays. It even has an ‘automatic’ mode that uses the dark theme only at night and the white color scheme during the day.

Sadly, the app drawer remains white regardless which theme you are using and for now, there are no other theme colors, although hopefully there will be soon.

RAM Manager

Android M - RAM manager

Time to geek out! The new RAM manager will show extra information – compared to what Android Lollipop shows. You’ll be able to see both current and recent RAM usage for each app and the slider at the top shows the recently used RAM with a rating.

Because visual is always better than numbers the light green bar you can see displayed for each app in the image above shows the maximum RAM used recently by the app and the dark green one is its current average memory footprint.

USB Type C

Android M - USB Type C Plugin Options

USB Type-C is not exactly mainstream, but we just can’t help ourselves to be excited thinking of its potential. Also, the fact Google already implemented support for it, means the new port will become the new standard sooner than you might think.

When two devices connect via USB Type-C a menu will appear, letting the user select the type of connection. Besides photo transfer and regular charging you’ll also be able to use the device for MIDI input or to charge another device.

While it wouldn’t make sense to use your phone as a power supply for your laptop you could hand over some juice to another phone or a camera battery, as well as use a device with a bigger battery to charge yours. We love the flexibility offered by this feature and it can surely be a life saver every now and then.

These are our top 10 favorite features of Android M. Some choices were hard, and we were definitely subjective at times. We’re looking forward to seeing the official version and perhaps other new features may appear until then.

Which are your favorite Android M features? Also, those of you that are currently testing Android M Preview – share your experience with us in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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