Google first unveiled their new operating system in May, at their annual I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco. At the time it was code-named “M.” A new statue outside their California HQ revealed on 16th August confirmed the new operating system’s name as Marshmallow. All of their operating systems so far have had a sweet-themed name apart from the first two which were named simply “Alpha” and “Beta.” They have been released in alphabetical order, with the two operating systems before Marshmallow name “Kit Kat” and “Lollipop.” Google uses the Linux-based Android operating system for all of its tablets and phones, and this is the thirteenth official version that has been released.
Google also confirmed that the number of this release will be 6.0 instead of the expected 5.2 – meaning it will be a much larger update than previously thought. Testing of the developer’s versions has been encouraged by Google since May, and they have now released the final developer’s version before the consumer update rolls out.
New Features in Marshmallow
As well as the fantastic new features contained in Marshmallow Google have also fixed hundreds of bugs and made improvements to make the system mot stable.
After the Stagefright bug which allowed a hacker to take control of a device by sending a single text message, Google have been ensuring that security is high in the priorities of app developers. Android has always been seen as less secure than its main rival Apple’s iOS Apple also recently suffered a bug activated by a text message, however this one simply crashed the user’s system rather than allowing access and control by the sender. Google have said that the final fix for the Stagefright bug in Android Lollipop wont be released until September – which suggests it will be either rolled out alongside Marshmallow, or more likely contained within the new OS.
Standardized fingerprint support
By further developing standardized fingerprint support, Google intends for more developers to use it in apps for authentication It is intended that it will be used for a lot more than simply unlocking your device, in-app purchases and online shopping could also be validated by a fingerprint soon
USB-C can already be found on Apple’s Macbook’s and is an interesting feature 11 looks like a normal micro-USD but it spells the end for fiddling about with USB cables. Both ends are the same and there is no ‘up’ or ‘down’ – all you need to do is ensure the connectors are lined up correctly It also promises a super-fast charging time.
Increased control over app permissions
Android are changing the way you will be asked for permissions when downloading an app – instead of seeing a long list of permissions, you will now be asked to accept it the first time you use it. Google used WhatsApp as an example to illustrate this – WhatsApp requires microphone access when you make a voice call – so the first time you use this function you will be asked if you want to allow microphone access. You will also be able to deny certain permissions if you are uncomfortable with them or if they seem excessive – something you cannot do at the moment – with Android’s current system you have to accept all or none.
Increased Battery Life
Android delivered a 15% increase on battery life with their last update, Lollipop, and they have gone one anther on Marshmallow with the introduction of Doze. Doze increases battery life by sensing when it is not being used and putting the phone into a deep sleep. It will also recognize when your phone is placed face-down, triggering power saving mode. Doze will also ensure that apps don’t drain your phone’s battery by using too much power in the background.
Google are challenging Apple Pay again with the relaunch of their electronic wallet system. With Android Pay you will be able to use your device to pay for items by placing your phone onto a contactless payment terminal 11 uses a virtual account number stored within the device, so it keeps your bank details secure. Google have confirmed that this system isn’t restricted to Marshmallow-enabled phones and will be available on all Android NEC-enabled devices running Kit Kat or above.
The Google Vice President talked about “machine learning” in his speech at the I/O Conference – this is what he was referring to. Google Now, the virtual assistant app will now be able to recognize context in searches, make suggestions based on topics you are texting about or looking at on your Home screen and is constantly ‘learning’ to improve the suggestions it makes. Watching a YouTube video and want to know who’s in it? Press and hold your Home button and Google Now will provide you with all the information you want! Described as “unnervingly brilliant” it is definitely one to watch out for.
Custom Chrome Tabs
When an app occasionally wants the user to enter ‘web view,’ custom Chrome tabs load it in a custom tab over the app, rather than opening a new one. These tabs support auto-fill and saved passwords and is aimed at improving the user experience on mobile Internet.
Redesigned Volume Control
Android redesigned their volume control with the Lollipop update but they weren’t very popular. Now redesigned, they look tidier and are easier to use You also have the option to adjust the audio of alarms and anything that makes a sound on your phone.
Direct Share with Floating Toolbar
These are small additions but quite useful. Direct Share learns who you share the most content with and the apps you use to share it. It then adds a button to your Home screen so you can share content with a single tap.
Final Developers Version
Along with confirming the name and number of its latest update, Google have also made the final Developers Version available. Each new release has surprisingly seen fewer new features as Google strives to concentrate on stability However, there are a couple of things available in the final version worth pointing out.
All the previous versions have come with their own wallpaper and the availability of the new Marshmallow wallpaper may be a sign that the new OS isn’t too far away from release. There are 9 versions available and you can download them to try on your device now. (Zip of all 9 here)
New Animation for Now on Tap
Although the full version on Now on Tap isn’t available yet, you can have a look it and it and get a feel for the design now. It’s expected that the foil version will be released alongside the next Google Nexus.
Advanced App Management
The new advanced options have been added to the app management settings menu Under Advanced settings there is a curious option – “draw over other apps ” This is intended to give apps permission to display over others, and may be intended for use with Now on Tap. Other options include Battery Optimization and Modify System Settings, which allows you to grant apps permission to modify system setting on your phone.
Google haven’t given a firm release date yet, although they have confirmed it will be in the fall. The wide range of Android devices also means that the release date will vary by device, unlike Apple who are able to push all their updates out in a day Further complicating the process are network-unlocked devices, which will probably suffer further delay
A full list of compatible devices hasn’t been released yet, and we also don’t know exactly which devices will get an advanced version, although the HTC One M9 phone is confirmed to be among the first. Samsung have also released a list of their devices which will receive the update first
Preview Google Now Launcher
If you want to get an idea of what Marshmallow will look like on your device, Google have released an updated Google Now launcher for the new version It’s available to everyone with an Android device, even if it isn’t a Google Nexus phone 11 doesn’t have many of the great features available in the developer’s version but it’s certainly interesting. It’s available on the APK Mirror website, and is fairly simple to download and install on your device. To download this, you’ll have to allow your phone to temporarily apps from unknown sources.’ This permission can
usually be found in your system settings, under ‘Security’
If some of these updates sound familiar to you that’s because, despite their fierce rivalry, Apple and Google seem to constantly release ‘updates’ that are similar to something the other has done before. Note also that Androids release date for Marshmallow falls well after iOS’s expected release date – avoiding comparisons between the two as far as possible. If you are a developer, Google has been encouraging testing of new apps and feedback on the new system for a while now and it can be downloaded throgh the SDK Manager system. The third developer preview is now near final and is the most stable version available