Pop music talk about...
If you get the reference, you're already one step ahead of the game.
You're probably only now getting used to Android Lollipop, but Google is ready to head on down the alphabet to "M." With the developer preview of "M" making its first "public" appearance at Google I/O, the developers have decidedly "gone back to basics" and turned their sights on stability and usability.
Translation: Android "M" will not be a show-stopper release. Aesthetically, you'll probably see little to no change in material design. However, once you get beyond the look of the platform, you'll find some serious improvements on the way that should turn Lollipop into something just shy of brilliant.
Let's take a look at some of what's in store. Also, be sure to check out "A photo tour of the new Android M."
This is a big one. Many users have been bemoaning the fact that it's impossible to manage permissions on an app-by-app basis. This is all changing. In fact, when you first install an app, you won't be asked to accept or deny the installation based on a grocery list of permissions. Instead, when an app is first launched, you'll be asked to give permissions for that app. You won't have to allow an app permission to a system that doesn't make sense. This should calm many users' nerves.
Because Android will be giving users more power, they'll have to exercise that power with a modicum of logic. If you launch a photo app, but you don't give it permission to use your camera, you'll break the app.
Google will finally be standardizing fingerprint scanning support in Android. The big plus for this is that it will enable device manufacturers to build fingerprint scanners into hardware so that Android Pay can use them.
I've already covered the new Google mobile payment system (check out "Android is set to shift its mobile payment system"), but it deserves to be mentioned again. Yes, Google borrowed the name from Apple—because the mobile payment systems could use a bit of standardized nomenclature. Why? Consumers need to start using mobile pay systems. They are more secure, convenient, and ready for prime time.
How many times have you been prompted to set a default app with the three words "Always" and "Just Once"? Quite a lot. With "M," Android is going to be a bit more intelligent with how it opens apps. Now, when a Twitter link is tapped, Twitter will open (instead of asking if you want to open the link in Chrome or Twitter). Easy peasy. This may seem like a tiny improvement, but the end result will be a much cleaner, user-friendly experience.
Better standby time and charging
Android "M" will introduce a new feature called "Doze." This feature will make use of motion sensors to initiate a special standby that will greatly improve battery life (by managing background processes). "M" will also support USB Type-C connectors, which provides much faster charge times for devices (and even allows you to charge other devices with your phone).
At one point, Google was attempting to steer away from external storage. They've decided that might have been a bad move and are opting for a compromise. Android "M" will use external storage, but it will format it as internal storage in order to avoid confusion. What this means (and this is important) is that you'll be able to move data back and forth between internal and external storage with ease. Adoptable storage will use encryption, so users don't have to worry about security.
Google Now On Tap
This will be the biggest change for Android. I've covered what's in store for Google Now (see "Google Now On Tap: The next evolution of the digital concierge"), but it also bears repeating. Google Now will be making a major shift to become more aware so that users can get more localized and relative content.
There are plenty of other minor updates to the Android platform coming. But the above should help you draw the conclusion that your Android device is going to very soon become smarter, leaner, and even more ready to serve.
What changes in Android "M" are you most excited to see? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
- Pro tip: Regain your Chrome tabs back in Lollipop
- Google Photos no longer a part of Google+
- Android M takes center stage at Google I/O
- Lollipop kills stock Email app in favor of Gmail
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.