Google has announced the Developer Preview of the next version of its Android operating system, Android M, at Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco. However, they did not announce which pastry or dessert it will be named after yet.
At the conference, Google senior VP of Products Sundar Pichai said that the Android M operating system will concentrate more on improving the stability and usability of the platform. There will be a lot more emphasis on the quality of the platform rather than a radically new look.
While not a major overhaul, it has some new features that make it worth getting excited about. Here are some cool new features you can expect to see in Android M.
Chrome Custom Tabs
Android M delivers an improved web experience with Chrome Custom Tabs. This new feature will let you include Chrome web view within a particular app, so you don’t need to switch to the Chrome browser on your phone. The Chrome browser will run atop your app (in case you click on any link within the app). Chrome features such as automatic sign-in, saved passwords, auto-fill will work on the apps seamlessly
Android M will also come with Android Pay, a Google’s new mobile payments system designed to make the checkout process easier and faster.
Burke said that Android Pay will be available at 700,000 stores across the United States, and will work at any payment terminal equipped with NFC. To use it, all you’ll need to do is just unlock the phone and place it in front of a NFC compatible POS terminal.
Google will “standardize support” for fingerprint scanners on phones running Android M. The new functionality will allow fingerprint scanners to be used not only to unlock phones, but also to make purchases using Android Pay.
Of course, your device will need a hardware fingerprint scanner to begin with, but with Google’s full support, expect to see these appear on many more devices in the future.
Google Now on Tap
With the release of Android M, Google Now will become more contextually aware than ever. Now, you’ll be able to get contextual information on anything you have currently running on your phone screen. So if you’re watching a video on YouTube, simply hold down on the home button to find out more information about someone in the video.
Other additional Google Now improvements include the ability to say ‘OK Google’ wherever you are in the Android operating system.
Android M will feature a new function known as Doze to improve device standby time. This feature uses the device’s motion sensors to detect when a device has no activity for a period of time and will automatically shut down some process so apps that use a lot of power doesn’t drain your battery. Since it is in the Doze stage, the system can still get activated by alarms and high priority notifications. According to Google, this feature has helped increase the standby-time on the Nexus 9 by almost two times over the Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Currently, you have to accept all permissions when you install an app, but with Android M, you can decide which permissions that you want to allow or revoke, based on when those particular functions are used.
For example, you can give WhatsApp access to your camera, but not to your microphone if you wish. You can even modify the permissions granted to apps at a later date in your Settings and see which apps have that permission granted.
Android M also make it easier to link from one app to another without having to land on a web page in-between. Android M’s new app links use a special verification method to ensure that app-specific links go to the right place. For example, clicking a Twitter link in an email will take you right to the Twitter app, instead of the Twitter web page that you’re probably not logged into.
Android M has a new feature called ‘Direct Share’ which lets you share content to your most frequent contacts or apps with a single click.
Your Android will learn which app you share content to the most and place it at the top of the list, so if you share photos to the Facebook app a lot, it will be at the top. Direct Share also lets you share content to specific people that you contact the most, so they are placed directly in the share sheet instead of having to hunt them in the contacts list.
Simplified Volume Control
With Android M, Google has simplified the volume controls. The new simplified volume control will let you independently change ringtones, media, or alarm volume, directly from the volume rocker.
Auto App Backups
Another feature that Google introduced in Android M is the ability of the OS to automatically backup app data to Google Drive, so if you accidentally deleted app, you can now download it again and it will be set up like it was before. Until the final version of Android M is released, Google is limiting the backup size of per app to 25MB, though this space is not counted towards the free 15GB storage space offered in Google Drive.
Like previous versions of Android, the final release is expected out later this year but you can download the developer preview now if you have a Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, or Nexus Player.