Updated: Android M release date, news and features

Updated: Android M release date, news and features

Android M release date, news and features

It's been a whole year since Android Lollipop was announced at IO 2014, so it's about time Google took to the stage and announced its successor - and thankfully it's done just that.

Say hello to Android M, the latest mobile platform from Google, where thousands of bugs have been squashed and a new layer of polish and quality has been applied.

We were live at Google IO 2015 in San Francisco and we've updated this page with all the latest news and features.

Latest update: Android M Developer Preview 2 has given us a glance at a new memory manager tool, and some new interface features.

  • Android M vs Android Lollipop: 6 things M does better

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The successor to Android Lollipop
  • When is it out? Q3 2015 (likely September)
  • What will it cost? As with all Android upgrades it's free

Android M name

So Android M is official, but it's missing its sweet treat name. We expect Google to keep that under wraps until later this year when it starts rolling out the update, but we know that internally it's currently going by the name Macadamia Nut Cookie.

We're hoping that is just the development name and Google goes for something a little more catchy when it rolls out - but we'll have to wait and see.

  • Here's what the TechRadar team want it to be called

Android M release date

Android M developer preview

Bad news folks, you won't be able to get your hands on Android M straight away - unless you're a developer.

The Android M developer preview is already available, but the main Android M release date is set for Q3 2015 - and we'd say it's most likely to be September - when we'll also learn the sweet treat name Google has christened it.

Google has promised that developers will receive at least two further updates to the Android M preview before it hits the mainstream - the first is scheduled for the end of June, while the second is expected to land towards the end of July.

  • Android M release date: when can I get it?

Android M developer preview

Android M supported devices

As mentioned, developers can get their grubby mitts on a preview of Android M from May 28, with support for the Nexus 5 and 6 handsets, Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus Player available.

Some may be disappointed to see a lack of love for the Nexus 7 slate - so fingers crossed Google pushes out the final software to it later this year.

Meanwhile at the end of June Sony became the first hardware maker to offer the Android M developer preview for non-Nexus models.

According to Sony the following smartphones and tablets will be able to download the Android M developer preview: Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia E3, Xperia M2, Xperia T2 Ultra and the Xperia T3.

This list gives us a pretty good idea of what handsets will be upgraded to the final version of Android M once it releases.

The new Sony Xperia Z3+ is noticeable by its absence, but we're pretty certain that it will get the update as well.

Android Pay

Android Pay

Android Pay isn't just available with Android M, it will be supported on devices with NFC running Android KitKat and above.

There's no need to open an app to make a payment, all you'll need to do unlock and place your handset on a compatible contactless payment terminal.

For those rocking Android M on their device you'll also be able to use Android M within third party applications for simple purchases which don't require you to enter all your details every time.

  • Find out more about Android Pay

Android M fingerprint support

We've seen some smartphone manufacturers already include fingerprint scanners in their devices, but with Android M Google is looking to make the support standardized across the whole platform.

As well as allowing you to unlock your device and pay for media from the Google Play store the fingerprint scanning tech is also open to developers.

That means devs can build it into their own applications, allowing you to sign into them without the need for a password, as well as pay for goods using Android Pay.

Voice controls

Android M looks like it is getting even better voice control thanks to the new Voice Interaction API, which will allow app developers to build voice control directly into their apps.

This means that owners of Android M devices will be able to speak to their apps - and the apps will even talk back!

One of the examples Google has detailed s with the TuneIn app, which now uses the API. A user can say "OK Google, listen to music on TuneIn", and the TuneIn app will not only load, but will then ask out loud "What genre of music would you like to listen to?".

The user can then reply with their favourite genre. This natural way of speaking to your smartphone and the apps installed could revolutionise the way we interact with our smartphones.

To demonstrate the potential of Voice Interaction API, Google has released a video, which can be viewed below.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW1A4XFRuyc

And there's more, so click the next page button below to find out about power, charging, app permissions and more in Android M.

Android M power, charging and more

Android M power

Android M Doze

Google has done a load of work surrounding battery life and power in Android M, which will be music to many user's ears.

First up Google has cooked up Doze - where your device will use motion detection to realize when it hasn't moved for an extended period of time and switches to a deeper sleep which consumes much less power.

Your device won't be completely useless in this mode, as Doze still allows alarms and key notifications to come through.

The search giant says it grabbed two Nexus 9 tablets, one running Lollipop and the other Android M, loaded the same apps and settings on both and then tested the standby power drain on the two.

Apparently the Nexus 9 running Android M lasted up to two times longer than its Lollipop counterpart. It sounds impressive and we're hoping it translates to noticeably better battery life on our devices.

Android M charging

As well as making our batteries last longer, Android M also brings faster charging to the fore with USB-C support.

USB-C is a new type of USB connector which, like Apple's Lightning connector, can be plugged in either way round. No more fumbling in the dark trying to plug in your charging cable the right way round.

Google claims devices with USB-C connectors will charge three to five times faster than the current microUSB offerings on the market.

Android M Now on Tap

Now on Tap

With Android M comes an intelligent new assistant feature called Now on Tap. An enhancement to Google Now, Now on Tap lets users access information anywhere on their Android M device, no matter what they're doing.

Users can simple tap and hold the home button to pull up a query without leaving the app they're in or website. If a friend emails you about seeing a movie, for example, Now on Tap could pull up info like ratings, the trailer or even let you buy tickets. You can also look at other apps on your phone, like Yelp or OpenTable, to book a dinner reservation or read reviews about a restaurant your friends wants to try for dinner.

Now on Tap doesn't just work with a tap for place info: you can also do voice search for more specific queries, like who sings your new favorite song.

Android M interface

Judging by early versions of Android M, the new operating system will keep the Material Design look of Android 5.0 Lollipop, but with one key difference.

Scrolling through your installed apps in the Apps Drawer used to be a horizontal affair, however with the first Developer Preview of Android M, a new vertical scrolling method was introduced.

To help you get used to the new way of doing things, and to allow you to find apps easily, letters were included in the interface to help you jump to the app you required - all you needed to know was the letter the name of the app began with.

Developer Preview 2 has since been launched, and although the vertical Apps Drawer has remained, the letters have been removed leading to a tidier, but perhaps more confusing, interface.

Android M permissions

Android M app permissions

It's made app permissions more intuitive, giving users the option to allow/deny specific permissions within an app - rather than having to accept all permissions at once.

Currently you have to accept permissions when you download an app, but with Android M you won't be asked to grant access to features until you come to use them for the first time in the app.

That means, for example, you can give WhatsApp access to your camera, but not to your microphone if you wish.

You can even revoke access for a particular permission by diving into the settings if you accidentally allowed it.

More new features on Android M

Google has simplified volume controls once again with the Android M update, with more granular control over the various audio settings on your device from ringtones and alarms to music playback and voice calls.

Word selection has been made easier too, with Android M highlighting text more intuitively, and a floating menu offers controls such as cut, copy and paste at your fingertips, rather than in the toolbar at the top of the display.

Fire up the Chrome web browser on Android M and you'll benefit from Chrome Custom Tabs, which let websites customize the toolbar and menu of the Chrome tab to provide dedicated buttons and options.

An example shown on stage at Google IO was Pinterest, which was able to add a "Pin" button to the toolbar on certain pages.

App linking has been vastly improved in Android M, with Google's software now more adept at working out whether a link should be opened in a browser or a compatible app. That means fewer "open with" pop up boxes flashing up on screen and generally just getting in the way.

A new and improved memory manager was also spotted in Developer Preview 2 of Android M. This tool allows you to view what apps are taking up the most RAM and slowing down your device.

You can also see the average amount of RAM used by apps - even if they're not running - which lets you identify any memory hogs and rid them from your phone.

This should make Android M run faster and more reliably than Android 5.0 Lollipop, which can sometimes suffer from memory leaks.

Android M

Source: TechRadar.com

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