Google made several major announcements at I/O yesterday and chief among them was introducing all the new and exciting features of the upcoming version of Android OS.
Dubbed Android M for now, the new OS looks and feels a lot like Lollipop, the new OS will be launched later this year but is available as a prerelease version right now.
Google’s Sundar Pichai said that the company has gone back to the basics with Android M and has improved the quality of the platform. M will be all about stability and usability.
Let’s take a look at all the major new features announced for Android M:
There had been a lot of chatter about Google making app permissions more granular on Android M and that’s exactly what has happened. With Android M, users will not be served up a list of app permissions before accepting to install an app, instead Google will ask users to approve individual permissions when an app calls it up. This new feature is very similar to app permissions on iOS and helps users control what data an app has access to.
Chrome Custom Tabs
Google has announced Chrome Custom Tabs which is sort of an in-app Chrome browser that lets you load web links from within apps much faster. Right now, opening web links in apps opens up the browser or gives users a stripped down web view. In order to make Chrome Custom Tabs load faster Google says it will preload certain elements including passwords and autofill information.
Google has made new headway in figuring out how to make Android even more efficient and will introduce a new feature called Doze with Android M. The feature uses motion detection to go into a deeper sleep if it detects a device is inactive for longer periods of time. Google says the tradeoff to save battery life is app freshness, however, a device can still respond to high-priority messages and use alarms while Dozing.
Google announced that the newer, more versatile, USB Type-C connector will be supported by Android, meaning it’s very plausible that we get to see the new connector on this year’s flagship smartphones.
Now On Tap
Google will introduce a new feature in Android M called Now On Tap that is an extension of its contextually aware Google Now digital assistant. Now On Tap allows users to hold down the home button to throw up a bunch of relevant Google Now cards that are relevant to the information on screen, whether they’re in an app, email or in a web browser.
Here’s one thing you don’t have to wait to check out until Google rolls out Android M. The company has rolled out the new Google Photos tool which as expected is a standalone service and offers unlimited storage of photos (up to 16MP) and videos (up to 1080p) online. Further, the tool features some pretty advanced auto-tagging capabilities, that help you search for photos a lot faster by segregating them into ‘Things > Cars’ for example.
Offline Chrome And Maps
Google already lets users watch YouTube videos offline in certain countries including India, and is now looking to bring similar functionality for web pages and maps. Chrome will let users save web pages for offline use while Google maps will let us use certain features while offline. Both of these new features are designed to help make products work better in developing countries where connections are spotty at best.
Android Pay & Fingerprint
The kitty is finally out of the bag. Google announced that Android M will come with native fingerprint support for Android Pay. The service, like its name suggests, will allow users to pay for things using their Android phones at stores and across thousands of websites and apps. Moreover, fingerprint on Android M will also be able to unlock the device and to authenticate Google Play purchases, and with new API’s Google is making it possible for developers to add fingerprint authorization to their apps.
The Android M developer preview is already out, and can be installed on a Nexus 6, Nexus 5, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player.