Android Marshmallow features February 22 2016, 0 Comments

Android Marshmallow is finally being rolled out after being announced in May last year and rolled out in September to Nexus devices. It is about to be available to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge really soon, and other devices may follow suit soon afterwards. This new Android version is not very different from Android Lollipop in design, but it certainly has a lot of features packed under the hood. Among some of these are:

Voice commands

Google Now will become an integral part of Android Marshmallow and will have wide and varied uses. Starting from the lock screen, you will be able to open apps or other commands by tapping on the Google Now icon. These voice commands will also be available on your home screen whenever you say “Ok, Google” or tap on the microphone icon.

The most important use of voice commands, however, will be through Google Now on Tap. One will be able to open Google now from any screen by tapping and holding the Home button. The unique feature about Google Now will be its ability to perceive what content is displayed and provide only relevant information.

If, for example you were chatting over text with a friend about a restaurant or movie theatre, Google Now will provide relevant information such as the location of the restaurant and its rating, or the movies being shown at the theatre at the moment.

This ability by Google Now will be available system wide, but it will probably take some time before all apps adapt to this feature. At the moment, system apps and web browsers such as Google Chrome will offer you relevant suggestions based on content.

App drawer

Gone is the horizontal app drawer where you flicked pages from side-to-side, now everything is listed vertically. The app drawer also gets a completely white background, which I don’t like and will probably be changing as soon as I get the update. If you have many apps and don’t want to scroll through, tapping and holding the App drawer icon from your home screen will lead you directly to a search menu where you can type.

The revolution, however, on the app drawer is the predictive apps feature. This is whereby the apps you use most will alternate at different times of the day. The system will learn your routine over time and list the most used apps at the top of the app drawer based on the time of day.

External storage

Despite more and more devices doing away with Micro SD card slots, there are still many who are fanatical about it. This is good news to them because Android Marshmallow will have even more integrated support for SD cards. In the past, Android devices treated SD cards as merely extra storage, not any more. Your SD card will now be treated as a part of the Android system, dedicated to that specific device.

This means you will be able to seamlessly install apps and transfer data to your SD card, but then you won’t be able to just move it from one device to another. Therefore, you will be more comfortable buying, say, a device with 16GB internal storage, and a 32GB SD card to go with it.

Performance

Google have introduced 2 new features to improve battery life: Doze and App standby. Doze uses your device’s motion sensors to determine whether you’re using your device, if not, the device enters a ‘hibernation’ mode that limits performance and improves battery life. App standby monitors your app usage, and automatically closes apps you haven’t used for a while. You might be wondering if this might make you miss an important email or direct message, but that’s covered by Whitelist, a list of apps you want to keep on running.

The word on Marshmallow

Every Android fan is anticipating the day their device gets the update, with many hoping that it will be a great improvement. I’m a sceptic, though, and I withhold judgement until I have a hand-on experience with the OS. These updates usually present frustrating hiccups and new Android versions take a few updates before they’re fully stable. I would advise anyone who heavily depends on their device for important stuff to hold off on the update until after a few days.