Android M

Google’s annual I/O conference is currently going on in San Francisco, and as expected, Android M, its latest update to Android, was officially unveiled. Although lots of new features will be packed in with Android M, six of those features were brought to the forefront during the beginning of the I/O keynote.

Google states that Android M is rethinking fundamental aspects of how the platform has worked for years, and focuses on polish and quality and improving the core user experience. From what we’ve seen thus far, we’d have to agree.

The following six areas—App Permissions, Web Experience, App Links, Android Pay, Fingerprint Support, and Power & Charging—were specially highlighted as new features for Android M. What do these new features mean for Android and the future of mobile?

App Permissions

Google’s aim here is to give its users more control over data and privacy. Right now, permissions are presented up front before installing an app, lending little transparence as to how user data is actually used. With the new App Permissions in Android M, permissions will work very much like iOS, and request access to permissions as needed. For example, if you press the Mic button in WhatsApp, the app will ask for the permission right then and there.

Runtime app permissions Android M

Not only will this provide more transparency when it comes to user data, it means faster app installs and less up front friction. Users can still go into the permission settings and enable or disable certain permissions on an app-by-app basis.

Web experience

New features like Chrome Custom tabs allow users to access Chrome tabs for a related website inside of your app. It allows developers to skin the Chrome tab to make it look more like native app content.

Pintrest Custom Chrome tabs

The app can even prefetch web content to make the transition between the app and tab more smooth, and a back button allows you to seamlessly go back to the app that launched the tab.

App Links

While it’s true that Android has allowed links to apps for some time, it was never seamless. With Android M, developers can create seamless app-to-app links that is sure to create a more immersive experience.

From the Android developer blog:

Android has always allowed apps to register to natively handle URLs. Now you can add an autoVerify attribute to your app manifest so that users can be linked deep into your native app without any disambiguation prompt.

Not only linking to the first page of the app, but deep app linking. That sounds plain awesome. Let’s hope that Apple adopts this as soon as possible.

Android Pay

Let’s be honest. Both Google and Apple are guilty of ripping off each other, and this is an undeniable instance of Mountain View ripping off Cupertino. The UI, and the methodology works similar to Apple Pay on iOS, and even the name is a dead-ringer ripoff. The ways that the audience nervously clapped after its unveiling made it seem like even the Google faithful were cringing a bit at the shamelessness.

Android Pay

Like Apple Pay, Android Pay works with any merchant that accepts contactless payments via NFC, and will also work for in app purchases for apps that support Android Pay.

Yet, Google isn’t the only one guilty of ripping off ideas. Apple has ripped off Google at times, and this trend will continue as these huge tech giants continue to push things further.

Fingerprint Support

Android OEMs like Samsung have already brought fingerprint scanning to Android devices, but this was a Samsung-led initiative that wasn’t standardized in the least. Android M will change this.

Google is bringing standardized support to fingerprint scanners, and is exposing a standard API to developers. Of course, you can also use your fingerprint to authorize Android Pay transactions.

Power & Charging

Led by Doze—a new feature that uses motion detection to learn if a device is unattended, and surpasses background updates accordingly, Android M will make power usage more efficient. When compared side-by-side with a non-Android M device, devices running Android M were said to last up to 2 times longer than.

Google is also heavily involved in the new USB Type-C standard, and devices (starting with the new Nexus phone maybe?) will beginning supporting USB Type-C. This not only means that users will enjoy a reversible power connector, but it also means that faster charging is in the cards.

I’m not sure if the new iPhone will adopt USB Type-C, but anything that results in faster iPhone charges will be welcomed with open arms by yours truly.

Obviously, that’s just a small taste of the new stuff unrelieved today at I/O. I’m personally very excited about some of the new technologies and updates shown today. The fact that both Google and Apple continues to push mobile like they’re doing can only be good for the end users.

Yes, Android Pay is a rip off, but technologies like App Links are awesome, and I think it’s inevitable that Apple will eventually bring something like it to iOS, or I at least hope so.

What do you think about Android M thus far?

  • Rounak

    Inspired not copied from iOS
    Another step to reach the bar set by Apple

    • Eh, inspired is putting it lightly when it comes to Android Pay. It’s a near 1:1 copy. But hey, I’m not mad at them. All great companies copy.

      • Rounak

        Now on tap feature is a very cool feature to be released in Android M.
        Want that in iOS.
        Check that out Jeff

      • On Tap was perhaps the most impressive feature of the show.

      • Hi

        Hi Jeff love your videos and posts. I was wondering what you you use to record your screen when you make videos on your Mac, vmbecause I am thing of making “how to” videos. But I can’t find a program that records my Mac at a good quality. Would love some advice from you on what program to use.

        Thanks in advance, A big Fan

      • Screenflow. Don’t settle for anything less if you’re serious.

      • Hi

        Ok thanks a lot Jeff. And where do you do your editing? Final Cut Pro X? Or within screenflow? And is this what you use to record IOS device screens? Sorry for all the questions.

      • I use both for editing. And use SF for recording iOS.

      • Hi

        Thanks for replying Jeff. 🙂

      • Valinor

        You call it impressive, i call it scary. I dont want google scanning stuff without my permission and looking it up beforehand.(yeah I know you can turn it off but when its on and you dont want it scanning something specifically, well too late)
        I dont trust any company enough to let them do that, and google least of all.

      • You actually have to opt in to use Google Now. So don’t worry, just don’t opt in.

      • Ramone

        When you say “opt out” what you really mean is “don’t use”. Data mining is built into every product Google releases. There is no true opt out unless you avoid using everything Google and in today’s world that is almost impossible.

        Given the strong links between corporate and government surveillance, a handful of powerful state and corporate players collecting ever more user data (and doing what they want with it) is worrying. See Bruce Schneier’s ‘Data and Goliath’ for a thoughtful, reasoned argument why mass data collection with no meaningful oversight is steering us down a dangerous path. You may not agree with his conclusions but they aren’t easy to dismiss out of hand.

      • TheOozyMan

        What about google wallet tho

      • Hot12345

        Also Android M have Google Maps Offline! Only on Android:(,

        Android M is a Copy of IOS. Why? the permissions is the same as IOS.

      • Rounak

        Yup look at there

      • Hot12345

        ^^ This, Exacly, Thanks for adding this.

        Android M is copying the secure of IOS. BUT the new thing is what i like the Google Maps, It’s finally offline.. So you dont need internet/data to calculate a route.

        That’s a huge major good point.

        Yeah yeah we have TOMTOM, but is not have every poi. So i hope that feature will also be on the iphone… I gues not:(

      • Fanboy 

        iOS has Google Maps offline as well, you can save whichever areas you like for offline use.

      • Hot12345

        Are you stupid? only just a few areas, if you want to make a other direction, you need still data/internet.

      • Fanboy 

        No I am not stupid, are you illiterate in that case? My comment DID say, and I quote “save whichever AREAS you like” so thanks for restating my comment. Just an option for those who didn’t know, you obviously know it ALL so this tip doesn’t apply to you.

      • techfreak23

        When it comes down to it, why reinvent the wheel when a great seamless process already exists? They push each further in innovation and if one company does something before the other, it leaves the other to focus on innovating in some other department. We all win in the end

      • Shams

        Not just tech companies. Car manufacturers have similarities.

  • pocht

    Jeff, I really enjoy that although you run an iOS oriented side you realize that both Google and Apple copy each other. Enough with fanboyism

    • Kurt

      Jeff works for Sebastien who runs an iOS oriented site. :-Þ

      Thankfully Jeff as well as others on the payroll can enjoy non-Apple devices/OSes.

    • Okada San

      Well he did say, “Both Google and Apple are guilty of ripping off each other…”, so yeah, I’m sure he’s already aware of it.

  • Hot12345

    Also Android M have Google Maps Offline! Only on Android:(

    • Sigit

      If is true that is only for Android M, no worries only the 5-10% of the Android phones will enjoy of this in the next 12 months.

      • nirmitlamed

        You are probably wrong since unlike Apple, Google put most of its apps on play store or ios appstore which makes them standalone apps.

  • Javiers

    “App permissions” is not new, I had this back when I own a Galaxy S vibrant.