Yesterday saw Google kick off its annual Google I/O conference, with the main focus being (as expected) it’s all-new operating system – Android M. Although its official name still remains unknown (it’s thought Milkshake will be it’s eventual confirmed name), there was a lot to take from today and we know a whole lot more about the direction Google is going with Android.
It seems that after the big update and bold redesign that Lollipop was, ‘M’ is focused on refining the entire Android experience. Google SVP Sundar Pichai said:
“For M, we’ve gone back to the basics, we’ve really focused on polish and quality; we’ve literally solved thousands of bugs.”
So lets get into what Google’s newest version of its famous operating system is going to do for you.
Battery and Power
By far the most intriguing point they made regarding ‘M’ was their announcements regarding power.
‘Doze’ is an all-new, incredibly clever Android M feature that uses your phone’s sensors to tell when it’s not being used and conserve power. Google tested two Nexus 9’s, one with Doze, one without, they said that the one with Doze lasted twice as long as the one without – this was met by a large round of applause, which shows how much extra battery life is needed in the current generation of mobile technology.
USB Type-C support will also be coming, which will allow for faster charging. And because USB Type-C works both ways, you’ll eventually be able to charge your Android phone off of your Android tablet. Mind blown.
Who saw this one coming? Android Pay, Google’s revamped mobile payment software announced earlier this year, will play a fair bigger role in Android M. You will now be able to wirelessly pay through NFC without even opening an app. It’s 100% more secure, too, because a virtual card number is created for every payment, rather than using your actual card number. Google says more than 700,000 locations will support Android Pay, and it’ll also work with Visa, MasterCard, AmEx and Discover cards.
Apple Pay will launch with Android M later this year.
Google are now standardizing fingerprint authentication with Android M. From now on, all Android phones with a fingerprint scanner will be able to do exactly the same thing, that means completing Android Pay transactions, both in stores and in apps and of course unlocking your phone. Support will also be integrated into other apps, so anyone will be able to use it.
As a long-time iPhone user, I was watching this part of I/O wondering what the big deal was. But in essence Android M is going to bring more granular app permissions to devices, so instead of agreeing to all the permissions when downloading an app, you’ll agree to them as and when you need them. At first it doesn’t sound very revolutionary, but being told what certain apps are using and what they have access to will be useful.
Chrome Custom Tabs
Google wants Chrome to better-integrate webs with apps, Chrome Custom Tabs seems to do a fine job. They showed off Pinterest as an example; when a Pinterest link is clicked, instead of taking a while for the content to load, a window that looks like the app while pop up straight away.
As well as the main points listed above, there was quite a few other announcements regarding Android’s newest operating system; there’s a new copy & paste, floating toolbar, improved sharing, vastly improved volume controls, a ton of Google Now enhancements, app linking, and a whole heap of improvements that weren’t even mentioned in the conference (we’d really recommend watching the keynote through below if you wanted to take in every part of Android M). There’s A LOT to be announced in the weeks leading up to M’s official release, so keep your eyes open.
Android M doesn’t have a release date at the moment, however developers can give it a spin today with a special preview release for the Nexus 5, 6, 9 and Player set-top box.
If you wanted to relive the whole keynote through, watch below: