Every year, Android releases an upgrade to its existing OS with much pomp and show. It wasn’t quite the same this year, with the energy certainly being low-key, but the update OS (Android 6.0 aka Marshmallow) is now available for Nexus devices and will soon be rolling out to other Androids.
So, what’s new and worth talking about?
1. Power Management
Whereas Project Volta and other such names in the past really haven’t made any impact, Doze certainly will. In the little time that I’ve spent with the Nexus 5 running Android 6.0, battery life has not been an issue. In fact, it has improved quite a bit and I’m sure this will benefit other devices too.
Doze not only kills apps which are inactive, but also the plethora of sensors that are awake and monitoring the phone’s activity. Be it for light (ambient sensor), orientation (gyroscope) or even fingerprints. Putting these sensors and apps in a sleep mode has made a difference in the battery life of Android devices running Marshmallow, and it should only get better from here.
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2. Now on Tap
This feature certainly has the potential to take the Android experience to the next level. Whether you’re texting with your friend about catching up later in the day at a certain restaurant or searching for upcoming Marvel movies, Google Now On Tap will have relevant information with helpful suggestions built right in.
So, if you’re texting with your friend about dinner, it will show you the Yelp icon, or the dialer icon from where you can directly make a call to book a table. Or searching for movies? Now on Tap will give you IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes rating, even pulling up information about the star cast for you to just tap on. And go that app and continue browsing.
Without having to look around your apps, just by long pressing the home button. Fantastic.
3. App Permissions
Want more control over your apps? Android is finally ready to give that to its users. With the Android 6.0 update, users can now control which app has permission to what service. Don’t want the Facebook app to access your microphone? Done. Games accessing contacts for no reason? Revoke that access. You can also set which app gets access to push notifications even on the DND mode. Neat.
More control, more problems? Nah.
4. Copy Paste
This is a minor improvement and something that other OEMs (and app makers) have consistenly being doing better than stock Android over the years, but finally Google joins the party. In Marshmallow, you can now long press over any word and not only select words individually, but also have a hovering cut-copy-paste menu.
Note: This particular functionality works fine on Google apps, including Chrome browser. On Firefox and other 3rd party apps, it’s not the same, though.
Seems inspired by iOS, but hey, it’s not like they didn’t take inspiration from Android either.
5. Better Volume Controls
Another minor tweak in Android 6.0 is the way volume control is handled, now. You can lower the volume down all the way to zero and the phone automatically goes to Silent mode. Hit volume down again and it will go to the Do Not Disturb mode. Nifty.
Some more tweaks can be made to the Do Not Disturb mode from the System UI Tuner.
6. Miscellaneous Changes
That’s not all, there are plenty of other changes within Android in the 6.0 update. The homescreen now gets a vertically scrolling page (which I actually dislike) and there is fingerprint sensor functionality built right into the OS. By Google. No OEM involvement needed now. (Ahem)
There are other great improvements too like Android Pay (à la Apple Pay/Samsung Pay), a visual voicemail and many more.
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Those are the updates that I’ve quite liked on Android 6.0 so far, but if there are others which you find useful then do let us know in our forums.