By Juned Ghanchi
Android 6.0 Marshmallow is a refinement of Google's mobile operating system and most of the enhancements are quite good.
Android has matured a lot in recent times with its presence on 1.4 billion devices and Google Play, featuring more than one billion active users. Android held 82.8 percent of the smartphone market and, with the advent of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it is going stronger than ever.
Is the Upgrade Worthy Enough?
Android Marshmallow is not out to defy expectations but usher in welcome improvements. Background tasks now hibernate easily when they are not in use to preserve battery life. Google Now scans the screen to deliver contextual links for queries.
For most of the 1.4 billion device owners, Android Marshmallow might not serve up an upgrade that would force a purchase of a new phone or any other mobile gadget. Only about 7.9 percent of Android devices are working on the platform Android 5.1, whereas a whopping 38.9 percent have their devices run on Android 4.4.
The value of the latest platform version would boil down to your past Android experience. Lollipop users would not care about the minor changes, but KitKat and Jelly Bean users will surely share their curiosity with the new features. The utility of the version would depend on how much keen you are to use privacy and mobile payments.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow isn't marketing its enhancements to be aeons ahead of the previous version, but it does boast some neat changes that work. Here are a few of them:
1. Home Screen
Marshmallow boasts of a redesigned home screen with the Google search bar becoming a fixture above widgets, folders, and the like with a revamped Google Now interface and an overhauled app drawer.
This app drawer scrolls vertically, and has an alphabetically organized list of apps with a new search bar that responds to results whenever you start typing a name. The searches also feature predictive intelligence based on time of day, overall app usage, and several other criteria. Every update after Android 4.4 will render a few Marshmallow's visual changes, especially the search bar and the app drawer.
2. App Permissions
Android permissions management has changed considerably; it now has better access to personal data and security to keep it private for every app. The huge number of Android permissions that were bogging down the phones have been significantly cut down with a "phone" permissions umbrella covering several minor permissions. Apps always prompt for permission whenever required. You can allow or deny camera access and microphone data whenever there is a video call incoming to your phone. The deny action will render all other features related to the call useless because they rely on the granted permissions only.
Permissions are flexible now, so accessibility to data and hardware can be withdrawn any time you choose. You can enact blanket policies to prevent apps from accessing some specific items.
3. Google Now
Google Now is Google's intelligent assistant and now it looks more powerful and better because it continues to give useful sources of information. Voice search animation and effects have changed too; they morph and dance with every voice command.
There can be some back-and-forth voice interaction with Google Now with increasingly specific questions and one can only move forward with this scenario...
4. Chrome Custom Tabs
Chrome Custom Tabs is now working on re-adressing the problem of Web links within apps because every tap on some links will leave you hanging with multiple Chrome tabs. But with custom tabs, one can choose and customize animations, diverse menu options, and the tools in the toolbar. It also includes saved passwords and payment information and will always hover on the originating app whenever they are closed.
5. Now on Tap
Now on Tap is essentially artificial intelligence that is pushed to the next level as it strives to interpret the items on the screen to provide relevant and context-driven results. If there is a mention of Inception, it is sure to indicate information related to Nolan's movie, its ImDB rating, the genre, and relevant pages, including the YouTube trailer and subsequent high-ranking reviews related to the film. Similarly, a search on famous bands would open a Facebook page of the music band as well as their latest gigs and videos.
Now on Tap's capabilities are both textual and verbal. It can be used to suggest map directions for several addresses and even use it to guide your driving between lanes. If you show a picture on the screen, it will respond with an adequate answer and even fetch in relevant details to the picture.
With the latest features of Android Marshmallow allowing some minor changes to its previous avatar, one can wait and watch before shelling out money for a new smartphone. If you are migrating from Kitkat, then definitely, it will be a whirlwind change in user experience for you.
About the Author
Juned Ghanchi is an Android developer and digital marketing expert. He is the co-founder of IndianAppDevelopers Company, an Android application development company that develops applications for big brands to start-ups. Juned has regularly shared his writings and ideas about Android technologies on various tech blogs and Web sites.