18 Oct Android 6.0 Marshmallow – First Look
Google has announced the new Android OS nicknamed “M” at their Google I/O in May, which is expected to be released by November for most devices, yet developer versions were already available then. The third developer preview came already in August and was destined for Nexus device. The Android Marshmallow 6.0 is the official successor of the Android 5.x Lollipop and is supposed to provide mostly improvements on the user overall experience and just some new features. It is not expected that the latest OS upgrade brings earth-shattering new additions, but as of yet only a handful of features have been touted as forthcoming. The first commercially released Android device will be the Nexus 5 2015.
The first improvement that has been greeted positively is the overhauled application permissions. There will be possible to grand individual permissions to certain device functions, or rather, at install time apps will receive limited permissions and can later be withdrawn, refused to be granted or limited, without having to completely remove the app, or grant all permissions in bulk. There are several other adjustments possible, but the best part is that you can revoke permissions later, without deleting the app.
Another improvement is the native support for fingerprint scanners. This new feature was present on Android phones earlier, but was not natively implemented, but programmed by individual providers. The fingerprint scanner will allow the users to not only unlock their device per fingerprint, but also authorise payments through Android Pay.
App linking will finally go directly to the app and not ask you every single time how you want to open a certain link. While it is still possible to pick some other way to connect to any outside link, the OS will monitor your preference and do that unless you instruct it not to.
Google Now is trying to be smarter than Siri, which should not be that difficult, and will be featured throughout the OS, no matter what you are using, or any screen you are on, you just press and hold the home button and Google Now will check what you are looking at and assist with appropriate cards.
Another interesting new feature will be the new Doze state, where your phone can finally really slumber while on standby. Up until now, the standby would consume most of the power, because the device would still listen to all active apps, like for instance Viber. If you subscribe to any Viber chats, forget your battery power, it will be drained way too soon. While you still cannot pick and choose which apps should work despite Doze, the device will check significantly less often, lowering the power consumption while idle.
From now on you can also set times for backup and restore, or rather schedule backups to be done automatically on your Google Drive. A limit of 25MP per app is enforced, but on the other hand, this backup stuff will not be deducted from your storage limits.
New Visual Voicemail service that is accessible from the regular dialer will be supported, but that functionality needs to be also supported by your carrier. In the UK it seems that only T-Mobile and Orange are set up to provide that feature, but that might change quickly.
Perhaps the best new feature by the new operating system will be the adoptable storage devices feature. This means that any external storage source, such as microSD card or even the USB drive, can be formatted like internal storage space and perceived as such, allowing you to extend your internal storage and move all app and personal data to and fro as you please. This storage unit will be encrypted, for security reasons, but you will never go out of internal storage, if you truly need more than what is common nowadays. This will be particularly great for entry level and mid-range devices with limited internal storage.
There are dozens of other new features, like the Google Chrome retooling, the new M RAM manager, status bar icons removal capability, screenshot removal, rotating home screen and much more. There are no actual release dates for non-Nexus devices available, but starting with November almost all compatible and capable models should start receiving updates as they become available. Some devices, like the original HTC One M7, will most likely not receive an upgrade, but since that HTC seems to relent on the 5.1.1 release, anything may happen.