Android M is now Android Marshmallow
Google’s Android team have announced that Android 6 is now known as Android Marshmallow.
Google unveiled its new OS name on Twitter, of all places (not Google+), showing off a new campus statue holding a fluffy white marshmallow. It also revealed, over on its developer blog, that the final Android 6 SDK was now ready for download, allowing developers to publish their Marshmallow-ready apps to the Play Store too.
Nexus phones, Android marshmallow and Chromecast 2: Watch Google’s 29 September event with us here
While the SDK is final, Google has stressed that “the devices system images are still developer preview versions. The preview images are near final but they are not intended for consumer use”. Conveniently, Google has sidestepped any details regarding a final release date for Marshmallow, although we believe it will arrive this October.
If you’re intrigued as to how Google goes about making its Android campus statues, Google’s Nat and Lo went behind the scenes to find out. It’s actually far more interesting than you’d think.
You can read on to find out everything we know about Android 6 Marshmallow. Despite the new name, we don’t recommend roasting your device over a campfire upon release.
Android Marshmallow release date and rumours:
Google’s Android 5 Lollipop was a radical change to how Android looked and felt, and, with Android 6, it looks like Google is building upon its fresh new interface with some intelligent new features.
We now know its called Marshmallow, here’s everything else you need to know about Google’s upcoming mobile OS.
Android Marshmallow at a glance:
Revamped Google Now with “Now on Tap”
Improved UI, such as vertical alphabetised App menu
Refined volume and notification controls
Android Marshmallow release date:
With Marshmallow already out in the wild as part of Developer Preview, pinning a date on when Google’s next mobile OS will arrive isn’t as difficult as you’d think. For one, we know that Android 6 will be released in 2016, and there’s not much time left next year for this to happen.
Traditionally, Android updates have released throughout the year, but since Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google has tended to release completely new builds towards the end of the year. Going by previous release dates, it would make sense for Android M to arrive around late October or early November.
Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich
18 October 2011
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
9 July 2012
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
13 November 2012
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
24 July 2013
Android 4.4 KitKat
31 October 2013
Android 5 Lollipop
12 November 2014
Of course, these release dates only correspond to when Google opens up its latest Android build for download. Various manufacturers will issue their own skinned version of Marshmallow later on, and, with over the air updates from your mobile carrier, it might take another couple of months for Android 6 to arrive on your phone. Google’s adoption rates for Android 5 Lollipop show that most manufacturers decided to hold off updating until the new year.
Android Marshmallow price:
As always, Marshmallow will be a completely free upgrade for all Android devices.
Google provides Android for free because it enables you to use their services better. Essentially, by using Android, Google can glean data from what you’re doing online and through its various services, allowing it to sell advertising. It’s a small price to pay for the wonders of Android’s functionality.
Android Marshmallow features:
Now on Tap
By far the most interesting new feature for Android Marshmallow, Now on Tap is a revamped version of the popular Google Now service first available on Android 4.4 KitKat.
While Now on Tap is disappointingly absent from Google’s development preview, we do know that it’s designed to work not only on information gleaned from your email and search habits, but also with any app you might have installed on your device.
This means that, if you’re off having a conversation over WhatsApp about eating at a restaurant, Now on Tap will intuitively show you how to get there and provide some reviews of the place first.
New App permissions
With Android 6, Google has stopped frustrating app permissions being shown to users when downloading or updating apps. This means that installing, updating, and using apps in Android M is a far smoother than ever before.
Apps can now request fewer permissions and, should you change your mind about an app, you can revoke them at any time. You’ll no longer need to approve all permissions when installing either, as it only asks you about an individual feature when you start to use that functionality within an app – excellent for the security conscious out there.
It’s hardly the sexy feature name you want to see in an Android update, but Domain URLs is a fantastic new addition that allows apps to “own” links from certain domains. Essentially this means all Twitter links will open in the Twitter app, Facebook links in the Facebook app, and so on. As this is Android, you can change all of these so they open the apps you’d prefer to use, but it does mean your phone continually asks you with which app you’d like to visit a link.
Notifications and volume controls
Lollipop introduced handy volume control toggles to stop notifications bothering you when you didn’t want them to, but they were a little too confusing. However, Google has made these new volume options a little easier to understand in Marshmallow.
A new “Do Not Disturb” button has been added to Marshmallow’s drop-down menu. Tapping it opens up three options of “Total silence”, “Alarms only”, and “Priority only”. As before, you can turn these on for a set amount of time or indefinitely.
The volume slider that appears whenever you click your phone’s volume buttons now has a drop-down arrow to its right, allowing you to quickly tweak media and notification volume separately.
Revamped App Tray
Google has seen fit to revamp its App tray for Android 6, doing away with the four-columned horizontally-scrolling pages of apps. Now all your apps can be scrolled through vertically, with a search field at the top to quickly locate apps and a selection of your “favourite” apps stored at the top for quick access. Google has also added a letter index along the left-edge, allowing you to jump quickly between each set of alphabetised apps.
For the battery conscious out there, Android Marshmallow’s new Doze feature is probably the most exciting aspect of Google’s new OS. Built in as standard, Doze dramatically reduces power usage by monitoring movement sensors and disabling background processes. Essentially, Doze tracks when you are using your phone, or when it’s just sat on a desk doing nothing but waiting for incoming notifications, and ensures it isn’t needlessly using up power.
Main image: John Morgan – Flickr
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