Android M announced by Google, coming later this year with several improvements

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At its I/O developer conference in San Francisco just a short while ago, Google announced details about its updates and improvements for 2015. They included new features for virtually all of its major products and services, but the one of most significance for us phone addicts was Android M. Unlike last year, this software update seems to be much more about adding features to improve the performance and usability and not a major UI change. Google highlighted six key improvements within Android M, which should be launching in Q3.

App Permissions

Right off the bat, Google wanted to let us know that it has greatly improved the customizability of its App Permissions. In M, instead of approving everything at the time of purchase/download, each app will ask you for access to specific parts of your phone as you try to access it. Very much like iOS, if an app needs access to your calendar, contacts or camera (for example) you’ll get a simple popup menu asking you to grant that app access. For instance, if you want to take a picture to send to your friend on Messenger, the app will ask for access to your camera at the time. What’s more, there’s a settings option to view apps and their permissions so you can toggle individual access points on or off at any time.

 

Web Experience

This one is something quite unique to Android and sounds promising. Essentially, app makers will be able to make use of Chrome browser within their apps and create bespoke web pages. So instead of building their own browser within the app, they can just use Chrome’s new Custom Tabs feature to make it feel like you’re still within that app. What’s more, you benefit from Chrome’s other features like auto-filling passwords and saved passwords, for instance.

App Links

If you have an Android phone, you’ll be accustomed to the irritating popup “which app would you like to use”. You’ll see it the first time you hit a web link, or link to a Twitter status, YouTube video or Play Store item. Any internet links will offer the chance to set any app with a built-in browser as the default for opening those kind of links. Twitter links – for example – will offer you the browser or your Twitter app(s). With Android M, it’ll be able to self-verify links. If it’s a Twitter link, it’ll automatically open in the Twitter app. If it’s a YouTube video, it’ll open in the YouTube app. No more having to tell it which apps to use, it’ll figure it out itself.

Android Pay

The easiest way to describe Android Pay is that it’s essentially the same as Apple Pay, but for Android devices with NFC. You can pay at any terminal with NFC contactless technology installed or with the official Android Pay label/branding. It works pretty much the same as Apple Pay too in that you just have to unlock your phone and tap it on the receiver. You don’t have to open an app or perform any other actions for it to pay for your transaction. What’s more, it’s secure and doesn’t pass any of your personal information on to the vendor. It’ll run on any device with NFC running Android KitKat or later.

Fingerprint Support

While some manufacturers, like Samsung, have their own Fingerprint sensors, software and services on the market, Google wants to introduce a standard for Android phones. Any manufacturer can build a fingerprint sensor in to its products and make use of Google’s Fingerprint Support feature in Android M. It will let you unlock the device, or authorize Android Pay payments.

Power and Charging

Two cool features are coming with Android M that combine smart hardware and software. The first is “Doze”. This essentially uses your accelerometer/motion sensors to detect when your device is lying flat and not being used. In those times, the device will dramatically reduce its background processes and increase the standby time. Giving the Nexus 9 as an example, they announced that it achieved double the standby time.

Secondly was support for USB Type-C. Like the new MacBook, new Android phones from later this year will be able to have Type C built in. This will enable an awesome set of features including the ability to charge batteries even faster than they currently do. The connector is reversible, so there’s no fiddling around trying to get the USB connector in the right way. What’s more, your phone will be able to output data as well as power. So, you can choose whether you want to have your phone charging, or have your phone charging another device.

Other bits

There was a whole bunch of other features hinted, but, only a couple were mentioned.  Android M brings back better audio controls, so you’ll be able to simply change specific volumes of media, ringtones and alarms. There’s easy word selection built in and a feature called Direct Share which basically works like AirDrop on iOS/Mac.

Although it’s not exactly an exciting and dramatic announcement, I’ll be pleased for all the Android M improvements on my devices. What do you make of all the announcements? Anti-climactic or just what the doctor ordered?

 

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  • Cam Bunton

    Oh, and apparently, it’s Android Milkshake…

    • Paul Garrison

      It brings all the boys in the yard.

      • Andrew Singleton

        damnit you were too quick. i could teach you, but i’d have to charge.

    • no one nowhere

      “I’ll drink your milkshake. I’ll drink all of it!” -Daniel Day Lewis

      • Someone somewhere

        Actually, the correct quote is:

        “Drainage! Drainage, Eli! Drained dry, you boy! If you have a milkshake
        and I have a milkshake and I have a straw and my straw reaches across
        the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I drink your milkshake! I
        drink it up!”

    • ajsaloon

      I was hoping for Android Marshmallow..

      • emcdonald75

        I thought of Android Mint because this seems to be Google’s attempt to “so fresh and so clean” its OS. Lol

  • Mark

    Some of these improvements sound awesome! My T-mobile Z3 should be getting this in 2018 then?

    • Joe

      LOL actually you might be relatively right. Which is very sad

      • MatthewPDX

        What’s sad is that the Z3 will probably never get M.

  • Ordeith

    Doesn’t look like it has improved to the point of not being Android yet. So there’s still a ways to go. :)

    • Jason

      I disagree. Android was better when it was Android. Pre Lollipop and the f’ed up flat simpistic nonsense for 3 year olds. But I guess you Apple and Windows people actually like that..

      • Ordeith

        Nope. Still has that glitchy crash prone runtime environment that has plagued Android from the beginning. Some of that could be somewhat forgiven when Android was more open, more ASOP, and less GMS. But Android becomes increasingly closed, controlled, and proprietary while still retaining all of the glitches, problems, and unfinished feel of it’s former open source roots. If you’re going to go open, Mozilla has an OS that is looking alright. If you’re going to go closed, both Apple and Microsoft do it better than Google.

        • Andrew Singleton

          100% of the issues you mention are due to manufacturer modifications. tell me if a nexus 5, 6, 7, 9 feels unfinished. the ecoystem (if you care to explore it, which NOONE does, which is their fault) is incredibly useful. ios wins with retro-updating and making enough noise to quietly annoy the user into updating, which is one of androids largest faults. you’d never know you had an update unless you put on auto updating (which noone without unlimited data would dare do.)

        • Ordeith

          100% of the issues I mention are the work and doings of Google, and are therefore quite present in all of the Nexus devices.

    • Andrew Singleton

      lol wrong blog pal

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    What happened to the devices announce am?

    • Cam Bunton

      We got a new version of Cardboard… *shrugs*

      • JaswinderSinghJammu

        Cam. Actually you have a much improved cardboard box that requires on 3 steps oppose to 12. Lol

      • skywalkr2

        i purchased the improved cardboard today. Excited.

  • Devon Warren

    I’m happy for the improvements but no new Nexus or watches announced? :(

  • George

    I do not think any body who bought the so called flagships with lots of money will be excited. They won’t see M for Months after its release. They may not see it unless they buy a new one with lots of money. Only alternative is a nexus. One device – one OS. Android is becoming like iOS.

  • Paul Garrison

    I still have the Nexus 5, and after long deliberation I skipped the Nexus 6. I’m hoping for something special for the next Nexus and Android M.

    • Andrew Singleton

      the 6 has been very problematic. and IMO the 5 is still one of the best devices out there.

      • Philz

        So true

      • skywalkr2

        The 6 has had no problems on my end.

      • Erik Papesh

        Problematic? Not one problem with mine…you must have small hands.

        • Andrew Singleton

          i work at a phone store so i see quite a few problems on a daily basis, just noticed that the 6 has has a large amount of warranty replacements for defective software. but my hands are actually pretty small haha not a phablet fan

      • fuego

        problems? i’ve had 3 nexus 6, and none of them has had issues. i’m currently using the FIRST one I got within the first week of its release and i have ZERO issues. Heck, I have more issues with my S6 edge lol.

        • Andrew Singleton

          i work at a phone store so i see quite a few problems on a daily basis, just noticed that the 6 has has a large amount of warranty rep[lacements for defective software.

    • eAbyss

      The N6 is an excellent phone despite the naysayers.

  • Joe

    Hopefully when they say double battery life it’s actually duble not like project Volta where they said it would be significantly greater battery life but it was actually works or the same at best. I’m a big android fan but sometimes I really don’t know what google is thinking and recently that sometimes is more like every day.

    • Cam Bunton

      Double “standby”. If you’re a heavy user, you probably won’t notice much difference.

      • Joe

        well they said double standby if your device is sitting on a desk or something so thats what I expect approximately.

  • Joe

    Maybe they can integrate WiFi calling, VoLTE, and multi window in android M

    • Cam Bunton

      With Nexus 6, they’ve been able to integrate it in Lollipop. But, I’m guessing it’s much trickier to to implement that across all M devices as standard given the number of processors, firmware versions etc. there are.

      • Joe

        Yeah that is true but maybe if they don’t fully integrate in they should give out developer tools for OEM’s to make it easier for them to integrate it. IDK exactly how it would be done but I feel like a lot of ppl would like to see these features in Pure android.

    • Erik Papesh

      Multi window is built into M, but its locked in the preview, I’m sure it will be opened up in future updates

      • Joe

        Yeah I saw that on Twitter. And we will also be getting proper micro SD support. Android M is looking pretty sweet

  • Alex P.

    I remember reading fairy tales about “increased performance” and “improvements to battery life” before Lollipop’s release. Then after its final release reading billions of forum threads of people complaining about decreased performance (including huge memory leak) and phones draining the battery in just a few hours of idling, including Nexus devices (both old and new). Even today I still read about people complaining that “Google Play Services” service randomly starts to consume most of the battery’s power until manual cache clearing (and yes, that includes Nexus devices). Hopefully Google will learn at least something from these issues and will NOT rush the next major Android release before properly testing it and all of their own services which are included with it.

    • Cam Bunton

      Yeah, it very much seems like M is basically a giant bug-fix for Lollipop.

      • skywalkr2

        and I don’t have many bugs with L, so sounds like M will be windows 8.1.

  • emcdonald75

    I wish Google had done something with gaming, which helps to encourage developers to use the Android Extension Pack (AEP) more for additional gaming effects and low level GPU communications. I wish for efficient ram usage and improved OST battery life. Also, I wish there was a way to put the fingerprint scanner behind the screen, without the need of a button, so you can put your finger anywhere on the screen and the phone can scan your finger anywhere and unlock the device instantly. The last thing I wish for Google is to force developers to create and support 64-bit and multi-core processing apps for quality apps that are more powerful and efficient. We always talk about the future of apps and technology but we make such gradual changes and rely on old ways of processing and creating applications. We create more advance hardware and yet the software remains in the past. It is time for Google to step up and require program developers and hardware manufacturers to go further.

  • Raiterio Patterson

    Wasn’t able to watch the whole keynote, because I was at work. Did they touch on new camera sensors or Hangouts or the new Nexus????

  • Jason Crumbley

    Are they going to fix the broken manual exposure setting in the camera? It’s screwing up third party camera apps too.

  • FILA

    I hate how they re-branded Google Wallet to Android Pay but I guess it will work out in the end. Now all these places have to get new stickers to promote it. A bunch of places already have Google Wallet stickers. This is enough to confuse everyone but us

    • Donald Wilson

      Rebranding does not disturb me as much as the interception of transactions. My biggest barrier to using Google Wallet was that Google intercepts ALL of the transaction. On my statements it only showed up as a Google transaction and not including any of the merchant information. I’m hoping they no longer do this. I learned the hard way when 2 months of expenses didn’t get approved on my corporate card because every transactions looked like I purchased something from google.

  • Rob

    I really hope we can turn off the auto app selection for links… I personally use different links with different apps and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    The development build is out for Nexus 6 on XDA but I don’t think I’m going to mess with it just yet.

  • ssjchaseutley

    Wonder if this will come to phones Tmobile didnt release Lollipop for (Galaxy S4)

    • gmo8492

      Come on dude, give it a rest already. Why don’t you tweet Des from (T-mobile’s product division) on his personal Twitter account instead of griping here everytime you don’t get news about the update. FYI: Lollipop isn’t all that is cracked up to be and if you’re really desperate just root your phone and install a custom rom. Done.

      • ssjchaseutley

        That’s not the point. I shouldn’t have to do root or do anything. Verizon and Sprint SG4 users got Lollipop.

        Tmo touts itself as the best company but they aren’t. My phone has been broken since the last update. When all of my friends received Lollipop (whom all had the same video issues as i), their problems were fixed… meanwhile I still can’t watch ANY VIDEOS. None.

        So no, I’m not going to give it a rest. I’m holding TMobile to the standards that they instituted on themselves.

        I will not stop. I will continue until I receive an explanation why Verizon and Sprint users were treated to Lollipop and not Tmo SG4 users.

        • gmo8492

          Well you’re not going to get any answers here, like I said tweet T-mobile or call up customer service, if they feel bad about not being able to help you it’s entirely possible that you can get an upgrade credit or something. Essentially T-mobile certifies the software, but they’re not entirely responsible since Samsung is the one that develops it. Samsung is primarily responsible and in this case it’s their fault since they make the phone and implement their own software with a few T-mobile tweeks.

        • ssjchaseutley

          No it IS tmobile’s fault, that is not Samsung’s. The ball is solely in Tmobiles court. Tmo would rather push more S6s than update a perfectly viable phone like the S4.

        • gmo8492

          Stop dodging the question, have you contacted T-mobile in any other way rather than complaining on this fan created website?

        • ssjchaseutley

          I actually contacted Tmobile many times. Once at a store (they simply pointed me to the updates page). Contacted through twitter (same result) and twittered to Legere himself (no response, not that i was expecting one).

    • Erik Papesh

      You have a 2 and a half year old phone. Quit complaining and upgrade.

      • ssjchaseutley

        Oh cool, well you give me $500 bucks and I’ll go get one.

        • Erik Papesh

          You have Tmo, go to the store and get a phone on EIP. You will walk out only paying the tax, which in most cases, is no more then 50 bucks. You can’t bitch about an outdated phone when you know there is better out there within reach.

        • ssjchaseutley

          Nope sorry.

  • OverAndroid

    I JUST MAY SWITCH TO IPHONE! ANDROID CANT SEEM TO GET IT RITE!!!! ESPECIALLY HAVING A FLAGSHIP PHONE THAT GETS RUINED BY THERE SHITTY UPDATES OR GETS OVER LOOKED…. WHATS THE POINT??MY EXPERIENCE WITH IPHONE WAS AMAZING TESTING IT FOR A WEEK..FLUID NO FORECLOSING APPS…KEYBOARD NEVER STOPED WORKING…NO LAG NOTHING JUST A SOLID PHONE .. IM WAITING FOR THE NEXT BEST IPHONE TO RELEASE B4 I DITCH SAMSUNG AND ANDROID…..IM TIRED OF IT!!!!ESPECIALLY ANDROID!THEY NEED TO BETTER TEST THERE UPDATES AND FOCUS ON GETING THEM OUT ON FLAGSHIP PHONES 1ST! I THINK THIS IS WHERE THEYLL LOSE THE LOYAL FANS!

    • Ryanide

      Well, that’s were you went wrong… Samsung. Lol

      • Paul

        Meh, my Note 3 works great!

        • skywalkr2

          I only left Note 3 because Jump was calling.

    • mooch

      Please switch to an iphone. Please. They’ll welcome you with open arms.

    • Christopher Olson

      Somebody just can’t get THEIR grammar RIGHT.

      • TMOTECH

        Seems like his Samsung must have a stuck caps lock button too.

    • Paul

      – Nexus phones do get the newest android builds first.
      – even Apple stops updating certain models as they progress forward, so you will end up dealing with that when you switch.
      – I have a Note 3 and updated to Lollipop: no app force closes, keyboard is great and the swype is amazing, I don’t have lag or at least I don’t notice any, etc.
      – “IM WAITING FOR THE NEXT BEST IPHONE TO RELEASE…” Have fun waiting. Even Apple’s iOS isn’t perfect. When it comes down to it there will always be something missing, and there will always be people that complain.
      – Please replace your keyboard for the stuck caps lock, and learn how to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. If you’re going to complain at least look like you have some sort of education.

    • Mike

      Calm down, press the cap lock key again and learn to use the space bar, shift key and spell check. A lesson in punctuation would help, too.

    • skywalkr2

      tl;dr derp

    • buelowsm

      You need to spell check your rants…….Samsung isn’t the only company making phones for android either. If you haven’t tried out android on a device that doesn’t apply their own skin, then you are wrong for calling out android. It seemed to work fine on my nexus 6 after a few patches and version upgrades. The only problems I have with my S6 are completely hardware related. Well I guess I don’t much care for touchwiz.

  • Paul

    Here’s to hoping the Note 5 will have Android M preloaded!!

    • skywalkr2

      Touchwizified surely.

  • Derek

    Why is it that we are hyping Android M when only something like 15% of people are actually running Lollipop, and the majority of people are running Kitkat or Jellybean, and then there are even people running older software then that.

    American Carriers suck! Push out updates! Not everyone upgrades their phones every year. Heck I know people who only upgrade when their 4 year old phone dies!

    • skywalkr2

      Because tech blog readers care about it… that’s why.

  • Matthew

    I have tried the new beta of the M on my t-mo nexus 6. it works well except when it, at random, forgets my APN settings and drops all cell service… I wonder if this is because T-mo is going to have a different build than the main stream? They did this last time but i thought it was all due to the Wi-Fi calling? Any news on this?