Google on Thursday unveiled the next version of Android in the form of Android M. It will be officially arriving to devices in Q3 this year, but the company is releasing the developer preview images today for select Nexus devices.
According to Google, Android M is its most polished version till date and includes hundreds of improvements to offer better user experience.
“Android M is the most powerful Android release yet, with hundreds of improvements made to the platform. Among the highlights, we’ve improved battery life and streamlined permissions for apps to make it easier for you to decide what information the apps on your phone can use,” wrote Google’s Sundar Pichai in a blog post.
Here is a quick look at the highlights of Android M
Android Permissions: As rumoured, Google is allowing the Android users to control what Android apps can access on their devices. Also, instead of giving permissions at the time of installation, the users will offer the specific permissions when they are needed in the apps.
Web Experience: Google is moving from Webview to custom Chrome tabs on Android to offer better web experience. Custom Chrome Tabs will be faster, secure and include more features like support for saved passwords, auto-fill, and web sign-in
App links: Rather than giving you options to choose from multiple apps to open a web-link, Android M will use app and service code to identify the right app and automatically open the link in that.
Android Pay: Google Wallet might have been a flop for the company, but Google is not done with mobile payments. The new Android Pay in Android M allows the consumers to pay using their NFC-based smartphone at supported stores. Android M also works with web-based services and can be integrated with on-board fingerprint sensor. More on Android Pay in our separate report.
Fingerprint support: Yes, Google is including the native support for fingerprint sensors in Android M. The support will enable users to unlock their devices by just using their fingerprint or authenticate purchases in Google Play. Third-party applications will also be able to use the sensor data using available APIs.
Power and charging: Android M will also pack several improvements on the battery and power front. The new release will come with something called “Doze,” which will use the device sensor data to identify when the device is not in use for a long time and puts the device in deeper sleep by intelligently stopping unnecessary background processes. Google claims that Doze improves the overall battery-life of the devices by almost two times. Other power-related changes include support for USB Type C and using your phone or tablet as a charger for other devices with USB Type C.
Other changes: Better text selection, better sharing tools and improved volume control.
There are just some of the features and changes that you can expect in Android M. Google will be sharing more details over the coming months. The M Developer Preview including an updated SDK with tools, system images for testing on the official Android emulator, and system images for testing on Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player devices will go live in the next few hours.