At its I/O 2015 annual developer conference, Google announced a slew of features that will soon make their way to the next version of company’s mobile operating system, Android.
The theme of Android M, the name currently being used to refer to the next version of the OS, is “to improve the core user experience” of Android, claimed Dave Burke, Google’s vice-president (engineering) for Android.
Key new features of Android M announced at the annual I/O developer conference include an improvement in the way apps communicate with each other. At present, when users click a link on Twitter, they are asked to choose between the Chrome browser and the official Twitter app. In Android M, the software will automatically verify which app is best suited to open the link.
— Google (@google) May 28, 2015
Google has also improved the standby battery time of Android smartphones and tablets with a new feature called Doze. Giving an example, Burke said that it could double the battery standby time by automatically shutting down the dormant apps.
Android M will also adopt USB Type C as the new standard for charging devices. Therefore, the operating system will give the users an option to choose if they want to charge their devices, or want to charge another device using it. For example, an Android M tablet with USB Type C connector can natively charge a smartphone running on the same OS, and vice versa.
As rumored, fingerprint scanner support is another native feature in Android M. Therefore, like on an iPhone with Touch ID, Android M users can unlock phones and authenticate payments within apps with just a fingerprint for added ease and security.
On the mobile payments front, Google announced a new platform called Android Pay at the conference. The platform operates on NFC standard and can be used to make payments at retail stores, as well as within apps. The company announced that 700,000 retail chains within the US have already signed up to become part of the new platform. However, there was no mention of Google Wallet.
Android Pay will let you pay for things with your phone, without opening an app, at 700K+ stores in the US #io15
— Google (@google) May 28, 2015
With online reading being one of the biggest activities for most users, Android M will now have a new feature called Chrome Custom Tabs. Under this, apps can have a dedicated Chrome Custom Tab button that, when clicked, will open the Chrome browser within the app.
The Android app permissions system has also received an overhaul with Android M so that users have more control over the way apps behave and how they use the device’s features. For example, users will now be able to revoke or modify permissions to apps as and when required. Moreover, they will be able to select individual permission. For example, the user can give WhatsApp access to the contacts list, but not to the microphone.
Among smaller features, Google has improved the text selection feature of Android. Additionally, when a user shares something on Android M, the software will remember the most frequent contacts and apps that they share data with and bring them up. Likewise, Android M will bring controls for individual volume streams, such as alarms, notifications, ringtones etc, which had been removed from plain sight in Android Lollipop.