Google just announced the next version of Android, currently dubbed Android M, during the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco. It will follow the release of Android L last summer, which eventually became the public version known as Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Google’s Dave Burke said this version of Android is focused entirely on “quality end to end,” with the central theme solely on improving the core user experience. So, basically, squashing bugs and improving performance overall. While last year’s Android Lollipop was about introducing a new design, animations and more intuitive UX, Android M is all about making Android more functional on a granular level.
One of the bigger improvements has been made to app permissions, with a smaller set of permissions that are much easier to control and understand. Apps will only ask users for permission when they try to use a particular function, rather than allowing sweeping permissions when an app is first installed. Worth noting is this is pretty much how Apple has done things since forever; use a particular function of an app, say, photos, and iOS will ask for permission.
That’s how Android M will handle things. For something like WhatsApp, users will see permissions for things like location, camera, microphone, etc. Google will make it really easy to actually see the apps that access a certain permission. So if you want to see what apps are accessing something like GPS, Android M will show you. You can revoke any permissions as you see fit, giving you deeper control over what apps have access to. Don’t want any apps accessing your microphone, just flip a switch.
Additionally, Google also detailed a new function in Android M that essentially allows devs to put Chrome in any app; it’s being referred to as “Chrome custom tabs.” Rather than an app kicking you out to a browser, you’ll basically have Chrome inside your app. Nifty. The new feature will be able to save sign-ins, saved passwords, autofill and more. This feature will be available during Q3.
Next up, Google talked about App Links, which allows apps in Android M to “verify” themselves for certain tasks. No more Android asking “Open With” every time you want to do something. It saves you a click, which certainly add up over time.
Google also introduced Android Pay, which will use NFC and host card emulation. Burke explained that Android Pay is all about “simplicity, security and choice.” The new service is going to be installed on new devices available through AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, and will work with American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa—that means Android Pay will be accepted in 700,000 stores in the U.S.
Delving deeper, Google detailed a new “Doze” feature, which deals with battery life. Google promises that the feature will be smarter about managing power, though we’ll have to see later this year how it affects real-world usage. For context, Google said that the Nexus 9 using Doze lasts up to two times longer than a device without Doze. Dang!
Finally, Google briefly mentioned that USB Type-C will be supported on Android (new Nexus devices with USB C?), while official fingerprint reader support will be built right into Android. Hopefully that means all your future Android phones will come with fingerprint technology, rather than just a few standouts like the Galaxy S6. There are a ton of other features coming to Android M, including simplified volume controls, flex storage, app standby, something called “Now on tap,” and many more.
Google hasn’t revealed the final name for Android M, but I’m still hoping for Android McLovin. We’ll get many more updates in the future.
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