Android Marshmallow is HERE: 14 new features that’ll make you update your phone

Android Marshmallow is here, and it’s one of the best versions of Android you can get right now. Sure, Google releases a slightly updated version of its mobile operating system every year, but Android Marshmallow represents a significant step up when compared to its predecessor.

Whether it’s the battery-saving Doze feature or the Siri-beating Google Now on Tap, Marshmallow represents a step forward – but why exactly should you upgrade? Here we’ve collected the 14 most compelling reasons for you to get Google’s Marshmallow OS.

If you’re looking to buy a smartphone that shows off all of the best new Android M features, why not check out our Best Android Smartphones group test.

1. Android Pay

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Much like Apple Pay, Android Pay allows users to store credit and debit card information on their smartphones, and then wirelessly pay for goods and services quickly and securely. To make it more secure, Android Pay uses a virtual account number instead of your own, and also keeps a detailed history of purchases made using the app.

To use Android Pay you’ll need to have an Android device with NFC capability running Android KitKat or above, and you’ll also need to make sure you’re with one of the eight banks supported. Then you just need to download the Android Pay app from here. After that, you’ll need to connect your Visa or MasterCard to your phone.

You can find out more about Android Pay here.

2. Now on Tap

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One of the biggest changes to Android Marshmallow comes in the form of Google Now. Although it may look the same as before, Google Now is now pre-baked into every area of the OS, and it’s cleverer than ever. Google Now’s focus is now on “context”, and that means the digital assistant will be better at understanding where you are, and what you’ll need to know as a result.

3. Adopted Storage

Most Android phones allow you to insert some form of memory card, but previous versions of Android always treated it as a separate entity. While that’s great if you want to swap memory cards around – it can be annoying if you want to use the memory card as a permanent storage solution. That’s where Adopted Storage comes in. Rather than treating the memory card as a separate storage space, Marshmallow can treat it like the rest of the memory on your phone. The result? You can use your memory card space without any fuss.

4. USB Type-C

Nexus 6P review: USB Type-C makes an appearance on the bottom edge of the phone

USB Type-C represents the holy grail of connections. It’s silly-fast, can be used any way up – and it’s going to be the most commonly used connection in the next few years. What’s more, it also allows for much faster charging than conventional cables: it can fully charge a Nexus 6P in around two hours.

As you’d expect, Android Marshmallow is future proofed with built-in USB Type-C support, so as long as your smartphone has the connection, Marshmallow can take advantage of it.

5. System UI Tuner

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Marshmallow fixes one of our biggest pet peeves with the Android operating system. Google’s mobile OS uses the status bar at the top of your screen for key information about reception, battery life and more – but it can get crowded and scruffy at times.

With the System UI Tuner, users can now add their battery percentage to the system tray, and choose which other things they want to be displayed there. The result? Your Android phone will only show the information you want to see.

6. Improved Copy and Pasting

Although it seems like a relatively simple task, previous versions of Android made cutting and pasting text a fiddly, frustrating affair. Before, Google’s OS forced you to go to the top of the screen to cut, copy and paste – but Marshmallow lets you hover just above the selected text. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s exactly what iOS already does – but we’ll forgive Google as it’s a vast improvement over its original solution.

7. Custom Google tabs

Best Android Marshmallow features

Google Chrome is one of the best mobile browsers around, and Marshmallow makes it easier for developers to integrate into their own, third-party apps. That means you don’t have to switch applications when you need to browse the web, and it also means that when you are let loose on Google’s browsers, all of your passwords and logins are stored and ready to go. The result? The whole browsing experience is much more seamless.

8. Clear permissions system

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Although not one of the most glitzy features, Marshmallow’s app permissions overhaul will have an immediate effect on how you use your phone. Previous versions of Android forced the user to configure app settings at the point of install, making downloading apps an overly complex, drawn-out process.

Instead, Marshmallow only asks for your permission when it needs to. So, rather than configuring something such as Snapchat when you first download it, Android will ask to use your phone’s camera once, and only the first time you use it.

If you want to go back on your original decisions, Marshmallow has you covered. The new OS presents things by permissions rather than apps, so you can quickly see what apps are using your camera, accessing your photos, location data and much more.

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