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Google Announces Android M, Coming Later This Year

google i/o 2015

Despite many people criticizing Google for being too fast in coming up with another version of Android, the search giant has made it official that the upcoming version of its mobile operating system will be called Android M. The update is said to be released later in the year, with hints that it will be in Q3.

At its annual I/O keynote, Google said that the Developer Preview version of Android M will release today. The new version will be the most polished version of Android and packs some pretty neat features under the hood. Most prominent features that Google discussed and showed off at today’s keynote are as follows.

Better App Permission

Do you ever really check out all the app permissions that are presented to you when you try to install an app from the Play store? Neither do I. It’s a great opportunity for less than honest app developers to slip their apps under the user’s nose without them noticing it. Starting with Android M, that is going to change.

Apps will ask for permission for individual access instead of showing a wall of permissions when installing.

Basically, Android M will follow the footsteps of iOS, showing you a prompt for allowing or denying permission each time an app wants access to parts of your phone. For example, you won’t see tons of details when installing an app. But whenever that app wants access to your camera, your microphone, your media gallery, bluetooth, or anything for that matter, you will be prompted to allow access.

This makes it easier for you to really be aware of what apps are using what features of your smartphone. The phone will remember your permission for each app so you won’t be bothered every time an app wants permission to do something that you previously allowed or denied access to.

Improved Web Experience

Google is giving developers what it calls Custom Chrome Tab. It is basically a Chrome browser in wraps that can be added to apps for opening links. This way, developers can make sure you can visit websites directly from their app without having to leave their app and switch to Chrome, although technically you will still be using Chrome.

Google said users will have access to all the features that Chrome is popular for, including autofills and everything. In addition to all that, Google is also improving how app linking works. The easiest way to describe what it does is by using the example Google showed on stage: If you click on a link to Twitter website, and you have Twitter application on your phone, it will automatically load Twitter.

Android Pay

Although Google Play sales have always been based on Google Wallet, the service never quite took off for average users. Google wants to take another swing at it, and it has chosen a similar name to that of Apple Pay. Called Android Pay, you will soon be able to use your Android phone to pay at over 700,000 Android Pay supported stores in the US.

Replacing Google Wallet, Android Pay wants to take on Apple Pay with nearly identical features.

Google says that Android Pay’s primary focus is on simplicity, security, and choice when it comes to making payment. It uses NFC and can be used with just a touch of your finger (Yes, M will have built-in fingerprint support). Also, to ensure your security, every time you add a credit card to your Android Pay, a virtual account number is created which is used to process all merchant transactions. This way,  your real credit card number is never shared with them.

Android Pay will work with any Android phone with NFC radio. It will work on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. Payment with Android Pay is simple. You unlock your phone like normal, tap the NFC, and you’re done. No extra code required. It’s that fast and simple. Also, Android Pay will work with phones running Android KitKat or later.

Fingerprint Support

Android M will have fingerprint support as a core feature of the operating system. Fingerprint in Android is not a new thing. OEMs like Samsung has already done so with their device, and Google wants to take advantage of what it has learned from those. Thanks to the fingerprint support, you can make secure payment using Android Pay.

Fingerprint can also be used to unlock your phone or do a lot more, depending on what developers come up with. The company said that developers will be able to use the fingerprint API to allow fingerprint access to their app and do a lot more — such as authorize transactions and in-app purchases — at the convenience of a touch.

Better Power Consumption

One of the most common complaints about Android phones is the poor battery life. Google knows that too, and to improve its battery life, Google introduced Doze, a new, smarter system to manage power on your Android device.

Twice battery backup thanks to Doze, a smarter power management system.

Basically what it does is it detects motion on your Android device and kills the app that are draining battery power. It does so while making sure you don’t miss your important notification like chats and alarms. According to Google, Doze has proven to deliver twice battery backup compared to previous Android phone running without the new power management system.

Doze will also support USB Type-C. So for future phones that come with USB Type-C port, Doze will be intelligent enough to understand whether you are trying to charge your phone or you are trying to charge another device from your phone. Google seemed confident at today’s I/O keynote that Doze will be one of the biggest key points of Android M.

Other Important Tidbits

Among other things, Android M will feature a better word selection and copy-pasting experience. After much anticipation, Google has finally added floating touch buttons to cut, copy and paste. Huge cheers followed at the I/O conference hall after this bit was revealed.

Volume controls have also been improved to allow you to simultaneously control volume for music, notification, and alarms. Something that is pretty hard and frustrating to do even in Android Lollipop.

Google says Android M is the most polished Android release to date. To prove that to the developers, who will be making awesome things based on what Google has been building, Developer Preview of Android M will release later today on Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Player.


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