The Android Marshmallow features I’m looking forward to

{ 7 comments }

android-marshmallow

Since I purchased my Nexus 6 phone, I have thoroughly enjoyed receiving immediate system updates from Google. The Android 6.0 update known as Marshmallow has been described as an incremental upgrade in which certain features are being updated and the bugs of the previous OS are being fixed. Even so, I still find myself eagerly awaiting these updates that are coming soon because the features and fixes apply to the very things that I have been wishing for.

But before I get into the features that I’m looking forward to, I figure that many of you (like me) are interested in the release date. Well, as usual, there is much speculation. TechRadar mentions that we should expect Marshmallow at the end of the month while Gadgets 360 mentions it will be released to the public in November 2015. Perhaps there is truth in both statements – the newest Nexus devices will have the new operating system and “September 29 has been the rumored launch date for Google’s Nexus line for a few weeks now, and it looks like the rumor mill was right on target” (according to ArsTechnica); while the public release of Marshmallow, starting with the current Nexus devices, may be around the November time frame.

Okay, now these are the Marshmallow features that I can’t wait to use:

App permissions – No longer will I have to accept all the permissions for an app that I am installing. Each app will now request permission to use what it needs when it needs it. For example, when an app like Evernote needs access to the microphone for me to record an audio note, it will ask to have access to my phone’s microphone. You iOS users have enjoyed this feature for quite some time now (I too have an iPod Touch 5G). However, I favor Android (because I MUST have access to my file structure to move files around – preferably without having to root or jailbreak my phone), and with this update I still get to have my cake and eat it too – finally!

System UI Tuner – I’m so excited! The addition of the System UI Tuner will allow me to get rid of my system notifications! You know, all those icons located in the upper right on the status bar like the Bluetooth icon, alarm icon, Cast icon, WiFi icon, Network icon, NFC icon, etc.  I used to have an HTC One X phone in which the useless NFC notification just sat there cluttering up my status bar.  You will be able to disable these notifications by following the steps below (according to AndroidPit):

  1. Go to your phone settings
  2. Tap on About Phone
  3. Tap on the Build number seven times to reveal Developer options
  4. Go back to the phone settings
  5. Tap on Developer options
  6. Toggle on the “Show SystemUI tuner”
  7. Return to the phone settings
  8. Tap on System UI Tuner

When you enter this setting you’ll have access to the Quick Settings, Status bar settings, and Show embedded battery percentage (which will display the battery percentage within the battery icon in the status bar – Yay!). Within the Status Bar settings, you can toggle on or off each of the system notifications in the status bar. The Quick Settings (these are the settings that you see when you swipe down twice from the top of your phone) allow you to arrange or add/remove tiles here.

Doze power saving mode – This update will use significant motion detection to determine when my phone is not being used to place it in deep sleep mode thus limiting the number of background processes that are running. It will still be responsive to calls, messages, etc. Google reports that this has the potential to double your battery life (Google I/O 2015 keynote).

App links – This addition will decrease the number of times “Open with” pops up when I want to open a file or link. For example, when I receive a link from Twitter, it will open the link in Twitter rather than ask me “Open with” [the list of all the apps on my phone that will open the link].

Chrome custom tabs – Even though this is something that developers will incorporate into their apps, this will impact how quickly links within the app open in a browser. According to the Chromium blog, when app developers incorporate this, it will allow the apps to

pre-load pages in the background so they appear to load nearly instantly when the user navigates to them. Apps can also customize the look and feel of Chrome to match their app by changing the toolbar color, adjusting the transition animations, and even adding custom action to the toolbar so users can perform app-specific actions directly from the custom tab.

Of course, there are other updates like creating support for USB-C, standardizing fingerprint scanning for future devices that have the hardware (even though some Motorola and Samsung devices have already implemented fingerprint scanning), implementing app drawer updates which include vertical scrolling, accessing Google Now from anywhere on your phone by tapping and holding the home button, improving the volume control, accessing voicemail from your phone’s dialer, implementing MIDI support, etc. (BGR has a succinct list of Marshmallow features), but the above are those I most look forward to.

What are you looking forward to most?

Posted in: Android, News
{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Julie Strietelmeier September 21, 2015, 9:47 am

    Nice write up! Like you, I’m looking forward to getting rid of some of my status bar icons and the doze feature. Other features that I’m anxious to try are:

    – improved file manager
    – undo/redo text changes with Bluetooth keyboard
    – faster text selection
    – better do not disturb feature

    • Kathleen Chapman September 21, 2015, 12:20 pm

      I just watched a video about how the Marshmallow file manager will allow you to explore attached USB storage files and folders. So cool!

      I did not know about the support for the short-cut keys CTRL+Z and CTRL+SHIFT+Z for Bluetooth keyboards (sadly, I don’t have one). When I do eventually get one, I will use that feature frequently since I use those shortcuts ALL the time when using my PC’s non-Bluetooth keyboard. I guess I make lots of mistakes while writing…

  • Andrew Baker September 21, 2015, 10:51 am

    Good Job, I’m also looking forward to a few of these options.

    -App Permissions, This is a big game changer for security. Google made a few changes` a while back regarding locking down the write ability on SD cards to help prevent naughty programs from doing naughty stuff. I found this to be a MAJOR discomfort of the gluteus maximus. This will allow (if it hasn’t already) reverse this pain in the posterior option. Locking down individual applications has been something (a rare something) in iOS I’ve envied.

    -System UI Tuner, I’ve almost always used a Cyanogen based Rom on my phone, so this is nothing new. It’s a great idea to bring to the rest/majority of Android users.

    -Doze power saving, I’ve played with this in the past on other Roms. I’ve NOT been impressed. Hopefully google will be able to pull this off, as they can make major changes to the code. I’m hoping this will help out.

    Things I would like to see.

    -Better Fingerprint support. Apple nailed this. I have to say it’s my favorite Apple feature. I keep my phones encrypted, I can pull out my iPhone, thumb the “home” button and be in. I have to key in my password on my Note 4, fingerprint reading on it is total garbage. I don’t really want to swipe my finger 97.6 times each time I use the phone.

    -Better profiling, (built in) I want my phone to know if I’m at work, in the car, out and about, etc. Then respond accordingly. In can, set media volume, work, set vibrate, etc.

    • Kathleen Chapman September 21, 2015, 12:40 pm

      I haven’t been brave enough to install custom ROMs on my phone. I don’t have the technical know-how and I’m afraid I’m going to brick my expensive phone. I see the wonderful features (like those you listed) that some of them provide. I imagine that one day I’ll throw myself into the task, investigate it and give it a try. Years ago I rooted my Kindle Fire tablet and really thought about rooting and flashing ROMs to my HTC One X phones, but didn’t get around to it. It helps that there are developers out there that write scripts for those of us who don’t code to accomplish these tasks.

      • Andrew Baker September 21, 2015, 12:57 pm

        Bricking. Bricking has changed quite a bit over the last few years for android devices. We now have 2 terms “Hard Brick” and “Soft Brick”. Hard Bricking is what you probably are familiar with, just called “bricking” in the past. This essentially means something went horribly wrong and now you have a $500 “brick”. It’s dead will remain dead you will cry.

        However this is not an easy task to do. The way android devices are developed now permanently destroying your device almost has to be your goal in order to “hard brick” it. However we have what is called “soft bricking”. Soft bricking may be scary, and if your not familiar with with the difference you may assume you’re out a phone and begin crying. Most phones/devices have tools to push all the software/bootloaders etc back onto the device. Allowing you to try again and again.

        http://forum.xda-developers.com/

        This is an excellent place to find the info/tools/roms for your specific device, as well as if it’s easily hard bricked or not.

        Please note some devices (Samsung I’m looking at you), have what are called warranty bits or flash counters. These are flags in the phone that get tripped if you flash or modify your phone. These are often difficult or impossible to reset. Even if you restore the phone/device to 100% factory, it will still have a warning when booting that the device has been modified. When I had the NOTE 2 they figured out how to reset this, I don’t think the NOTE 4 has been figured out yet. I’m ok with this, I know what I’m doing, and I know the risks I take. But if you are new look into this as well.

        • Kathleen Chapman September 21, 2015, 1:01 pm

          Thanks for the info! Good stuff. I just love XDA developers. They helped me in the past to root my Kindle and I will definitely start there if/when I decide to give ROMs a try.

  • MJ September 21, 2015, 11:28 pm

    I hope Now on Tap proves to be useful and not just a gimmick.

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