Since the announcement of the next major version of Android way back in May at this year’s Google I/O, there have been steady releases of developer previews and added features to Android that will make their way to the general public soon. However, despite the availability of previews and a lot of information about the OS itself, like always, Google has decided not to reveal the final name and version number of the newest version of Android. That is, until now! Come with us as we take a look at what’s new on Android with version 6.0 Marshmallow!
As usual, the way that Google chooses to reveal new versions of Android is with a brand new statue in the lawn of their headquarters, and this time was no exception. The new version of Android was promptly revealed after the new statue was placed, followed by a new post in the Android developer blog outlining the new OS and what features the developers should be ready to adopt.
Alongside with the unveiling of the version name and number, a final developer preview was released, meaning that we are very close to the final version and there should be no more surprises waiting for us once the final code is released. As always, the new version brings with it a bunch of new features and visual changes worth mentioning, and we’ll walk through the most relevant ones so you can get a sense of what’s coming up in the future for Android.
One of the most important new features is something that has been requested by a lot of users for a very long time, and it’s finally coming to Android: granular permission control. Don’t be scared off by the name, because it’s actually rather simple. You know when you install a new app, and you see a screen letting you know about all of the permissions that the app requires in order to work? Well, a lot of apps are getting greedy with their permissions, going way overboard and taking advantage of the fact that most users will just blindly say yes without thinking. But now, you can explicitly allow or deny the permissions that apps have, and apps also have to explicitly ask for your permission when they introduce a new feature. This is a great news for those worried about their privacy and security, and should hopefully help reduce the number of apps that abuse the current permission system.
Another of the new features shown at I/O is the deep integration of Google Now on the core OS, which Google calls “Now on Tap”. Basically, every app now has access to the voice recognition capabilities of Google Now, and are able to interact with it by sending customized cards and commands for that app in particular. So for example, if you have a music app playing, you can just ask “who is the singer”, and Google Now will know that you mean the singer from your music app, and show you the right answer.
Android Pay is another one of the killer new features introduced with the new version, and we are finally seeing some moves from Google to make this a solid, reliable system with a lot of support, rather than the poor adoption that their past NFC and Wallet payment systems had. Now, major businesses and chains like McDonald’s will finally be granting chain-wide support for Android and Samsung Pay and it seems like this is a good bet for mass market adoption, for once.
The rest of the work done on Marshmallow seems to focus on refining the new visual style and features that were introduced with Lollipop, which as it turns out, were a little bit rough around the edges. That’s to be expected, since Lollipop was such a revolutionary step-up, so it’s nice to see that Google is committed to polishing Android and iterating on it instead of reinventing the wheel every time. There are still a few missing features in the final preview that we hoped would be there, like the new Dark Theme, but hopefully that makes its way into the final release one way or another. For now, all we have to do is wait for Marshmallow to make its way to our devices, hopefully soon.