Android OS has been one of the most favorite operating systems for Smartphones owning 78% of the mobile OS market in Q1 2015. During the Google I/O 2015 conference, the search giant announced the launch of upcoming Android version – The Android M. Almost a whopping 87% of the Android phone users have not seen the Android Lollipop update for their phones and many Android mobile users think that launching ‘Android M’ was not at all warranted. However, as discussed at the launch of the developer preview, this version was less about the aesthetics and more about including the much-needed stability and increase in usability, the lack of which, the users of Lollipop complained of.
Although, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) hasn’t yet specified what the ‘M’ would stand for, it’s rumored as Milkshake, after Google’s Vice President of Engineering, Dave Burke’s slide on his launch presentation, had him wearing a watch whose face showed a milkshake topped with whipped cream in front of a yellow background. A couple of websites have also started a poll to find out what people vote for. However, it is ben said that internally Google Android M is known as Macadamia Nut Cookie.
He also disclosed some of the features planned for Android M, smartly avoiding getting into the details and skipping many interesting features. Here are few of those that improves the overall performance of Android and make your Android Smartphone experience even better.
1. System UI Tuner
Android Lollipop came in with major changes as compared to its earlier versions. The concept of material design and many unlocked APIs were bundled with the Lollipop OS. Many Android Lollipop users were not as happy about the status bar losing its fixed options and showing the most used feature instead.
In Android M, Google has reverted that feature and allows users to select the ‘feature’ they would like to award preference to. And that is not limited to adding their favorite features. Users can now even delete the features they use less from the status bar. This flexibility will save time and would pacify the many who hated the sudden withdrawal of the option in the earlier Android version.
2. Full App State Backup – Auto Backup for Apps
The Full App State Backup feature allows the user to take the backup of all his/her Android apps, along with their app data, preferences and settings to Google Drive. It allows the user to select what data he/she would like uploaded to his/her Google Drive account.
This feature would be particularly useful for people whose data is important, sensitive and need to take constant backups. Although dependent on Internet speeds, unlimited data plans today could easily offer that option to those who like changing their phones often, and make shifting to another Android phone a breeze, with the restore function. This means once an app is installed, the user will never have to install it again, even if he keeps changing his Android device.
Google has, however, limited the per app data file backup size to 25 MB, so apps having larger files or downloaded content such as music or videos, won’t be able to push all of their app related data to the Google Drive.
3. Dark Theme
Android Lollipop came with the ‘White Background’ for app pages. Either the fancy for dark themes or the smart ability to save on power consumption due to less number of pixels being lit on the screen, Android M’s feature of allow users to select dark themes does score a bonus. This also applies to the ‘Settings app’ and other areas which defaulted to ‘White’ in Android Lollipop.
Though quite a welcome, many people might prefer choosing their favorite images from their galleries and setting custom wallpapers as the background for the app pages too. It would certainly have been great if Google had built that into their default launcher.
4. Native Support for External Storage
There have always been challenges with how apps use storage on Android. Most apps had been programmed to completely rely on the internal storage of the devices to be installed on and to store their app data. This also applied to the earlier Android TV platform. Android Lollipop brought back the functionalities of installing apps and porting app data onto external storage memory cards that Android KitKat lacked. Now with Android M’s support for ‘adopting’ external drives for app and app data storage treating external storage as just an extension of the native internal storage, the apps can optimally use the ‘adopted storage devices’ formatting it like an internal storage through the Android M interface, allowing moving apps and app data freely between the two storages.
As the internal storage has a direct impact on the price the user has to pay for the smartphone, this feature would be a great asset for the smartphone users who own devices with lesser internal storage. It also improves the performance and reduces the time required for loading media, such as music stored on an external memory when accessed from within the music player.
5. Redesigned, Searchable App Drawer
Google seems to have also made prominent changes to the app drawer. The app drawer will now have a search bar, which will allow users to search for apps installed on their phone. The app drawer will scroll vertically (like the ones observed in Android Eclairs and Gingerbread) instead of the horizontal scrolling in the later versions.
In addition to this, Android M also features ‘Alphabets’ listed on the left side of the drawer, which allow the users to select apps to launch based on their alphabetically sorted nomenclature.
6. New Mobile Payment Integration
Google’s aim to offer “simplicity, security and choice”, is well taken care of by integrating Android Pay into Android M. Supported by American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover, the Android Pay integration is touted to help the mobile phone users to pay for products online and offline (with more than 700,000 stores in the US enrolled) and maybe even In-App Purchases. This is certainly a befitting challenge for Samsung Pay and Apple Pay to tough out against.
All in all, Android M is certainly a big leap from what Kitkat was. This update would bring considerable benefit to users and publishers alike and create newer and simpler revenue streams to businesses dependent on mobile as a platform. In the larger context, the mammoth challenge for Google would be to make all devices upgrade to this latest offering. If that happens, there is no stopping the search giant from multiplying its avenues faster than we could imagine.