By Jaykishan Panchal
Android rolled out its next big update—the Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Does the latest version of its operating system has something new to offer or is it just a chip of the old block? Let us find out by going through some of the top features of Android M.
But before that, let's take a quick note on the availability of Android Marshmallow. Google confirmed on September 29 that it would start rolling out this latest version to existing Nexus devices; for example, Nexus Player, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 and Nexus 9, beginning October 5. The upcoming Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will already come preloaded with Marshmallow. Non-Nexus Android users, however, will have to wait a little longer to enjoy the benefits of Marshmallow on their devices.
Now, it's time to go back to your burning question: What is Android Marshmallow all about? To know that, let's take a look at the key features of this operating system from Google.
1. Android Pay
Android Pay is an NFC-based payment system from Google, which is here to give tough competition to Samsung Pay and Apple Pay. It will make the checkout process faster and easier. Aimed to provide "simplicity, security, and choice," Android Pay is based on Google Wallet.
It will allow you to make purchases with your existing credit cards in over 700,000 U.S. stores. After making a transaction, this payment will allow you to authenticate the transaction by means of a virtual card number allotted at the time of registration by Android Pay or by your fingerprint.
Android Pay will also be available for other Android 4.4 and above devices.
2. Permissions for Apps
This really is a great feature of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. You can accept or deny permission to individual applications as and when they are updated. Google has also simplified the app permission process. Instead of asking for permission at the point of installation, it would be requested when you first try a feature. And here lies the difference between Android M and the current setup, which requires you to accept all permissions when downloading an app.
Android M is therefore giving users greater control of the apps they are using. You can view and even modify the permissions at a later date.
3. Fingerprint Support
Although a lot of Android phones already come with fingerprint scans, the likes of which include Samsung, OnePlus and HTC, they depend on the hardware manufacturer. Android 6.0 is making fingerprint scanning a native feature to the operating system. This means that a greater number of devices can now leverage this feature.
By using this fingerprint system, you can now authorize your Play Store purchases, Android Pay payments, and other in-app transactions. Although your device must have a hardware fingerprint scanner to use this fingerprint scanning system, you can expect to see this system on many more devices in the coming days, given the level of support provided by Google.
4. Customize Silent Mode
Smartphones are great, but the continuous sound of incoming messages and calls sometimes get irritating and it is not even possible to silence all sound, especially when you have upcoming alarms set on your phone. Users for a long time were looking for some customized solution for this. Google has perhaps read its users' minds (hallelujah!) and here we have customized silent mode in the all new Android M.
It allows you to silence all sound except for upcoming alarms, bringing a sensible silent mode back for our relief. All you need to do is turn down the volume and the volume controls in Marshmallow are way better than those in Lollipop.
5. Fewer Number of Pre-Installed Apps
Google has relaxed its pre-installed applications rules with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Smartphone manufacturers now can eliminate certain 'previously-mandatory' apps and still get their Android device approved by Google. According to an AndroidCentral report, apps like Google+, Google Play Games, Google Newsstand, and Google Play Books are no longer compulsory.
With this no-nonsense applications policy, Android M allows for less bloatware, which means you will now have more memory space for better and more interesting Android apps.
6. Battery Saving and Optimization
The Doze feature of Android Marshmallow claims to fulfill the previously failed promise of Lollipop's Project Volta to bring much battery life improvement. You actually can achieve a near-off state for your smartphone if you keep it idle for a long time, saving a lot of battery life. Better yet, you can still receive important notifications and alarms although Doze doesn't refresh apps in the background.
Moreover, it now supports a USB type-C standard for charging Android smartphones. It is making the charging cable much more user-friendly because USB Type-C is backwards-compatible and can be inserted either way in the port. The biggest advantage is that it allows for faster charging.
7. "Ok Google" Access from Lock Screen
This is a ridiculously simple yet useful feature of Android M. All you need to do is say "Ok Google" followed by your desired action and your device will abide by your command. What's interesting in this all-new operating system is that you can enjoy this feature after turning on your lock screen functionality. This means you can place a call or navigate through an app at the lock screen by just saying "Ok Google" and tell it what you want to do.
However, many fear that it might make your device a little less secure because anyone can use this feature without requiring to unlock your device.
8. Switch out Core Parts
Android 6.0 Marshmallow further allows you to switch out core parts such as SMS, the phone app, keyboard, the browser and dialer, and so forth for third-party ones. There are myriad apps available for each on Google Play and many of them are free apps.
Google also simplified the process of altering the defaults, but before switching the keyboard, do install a third-party keyboard. Otherwise, you will have nothing left to switch over to.
9. Lock Screen Personalization
Want to personalize your phone? Android M allows you to name your phone and/or put a personalized message or your name on it, thanks to its Lock Screen Message feature. This personalized message appears on your lock screen, just below the place where the time and date are displayed.
Some of these Android M features are hardware-dependent, which means there is less chance of these coming to non-Nexus Android devices or devices that don't have required hardware support. That said, manufacturers do have the option to modify the software given to Android's open nature. But, if you want to enjoy Android 6.0 Marshmallow just the way Google designed it, Nexus is just the right device for you, followed by Motorola devices.
About the Author
Jaykishan Panchal is a content marketer at MoveoApps, an android app development company. He enjoys writing about Technology, marketing, and industry trends. He is a tech enthusiast and love to explore new stuff. You can follow him on Twitter, @jaypanchal8.