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Latest features in Marshmallow (Android 6)

Marshmallow (Android 6) is not just Lollipop (Android 5) + more security features

You might be well aware of the Android’s latest avatar. The 6th version named as Marshmallow has lots of features with immersive UI and innovative platform charms. Marshmallow is more than just a refinement of its predecessor Lollipop as it may appear, though most of its features are hidden inside android OS. 

This blog tries to outline some of the latest and noteworthy features introduced in this latest version.

Google Now on Tap

Google on Tap

Google now on Tap is the stand out features of this version. By pressing the home button   a bit longer, Google can now read and scan the content on the screen to search for relevant, contextual information on the google server and will deliver the information relevant to the context on the screen. The context could be anything like People, Celebrities, Places or Maps. For example, you want to get the information about place/restaurant that you would visit, then Google now on tap will help you with the required information while you are using other applications.

Fingerprint Authentication – simplified security

Fingerprint Authentication in Marshmallow

A Significant security feature introduced for those devices that have a fingerprint scanner. These days, most of the mobile devices come with a scanner by default. This feature is used to authenticate users to unlock devices, to sign into user accounts and websites or to authenticate Android pay and more. The feature is triggered by tapping on the device’s fingerprint scanner. This brings improved security, convenience, better android pay usage to android mobile devices.

Fingerprint scan can be authenticated via FingerPrintManager Class and authenticate() method, also   USE_FINGERPRINT   permission has to be given in the manifest file as below:

 

<uses-permission  android:name=’android.permission.USE_FINGERPRINT’/>

Runtime Permissions: Allows user to make decisions

Permissions in Android 6
Different Types of Permissions in Android Marshmallow

A new Permission model for application has been introduced where users can directly manage application permissions on case-by-case at runtime, giving the user absolute control over the application. Also, user can monitor the permissions each app has got and enable or disable as and when required. If user wants to see which apps has got what permission, then user can navigate to Settings > Apps > tap the gear icon on the top right corner then tap on App permissions.

 Auto Backup for Applications

Users don’t need to worry about switching devices and installing the same old apps again on the new device, because all the data of the application on the older devices are backed up at the user’s google drive account and retrieved when the app is installed on a new device.

Automatic backups occur when the following conditions are met:

  • The device is idle.
  • The device is charging.
  • The device is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  • At least 24 hours have elapsed since the last backup.

To configure auto backup in the application, add the android:fullBackupContent attribute in the manifest file.

Direct Share – Share contents directly to contacts and apps.

API to share the content directly with contacts and apps. This feature enables users to share content to other users directly rather than through other apps.

The contacts in other applications will be listed above the list of apps when you intend to share something in your application. To configure this Developer must create a class that extends ChooserTargetService   and to each activity add a <meta-data> element with  ‘android.service.chooser.chooser_target_service’ in the manifest.

Doze and App Standby

Doze is an intelligent feature of Marshmallow that recognizes when the device is not in use and the screen is off for quite some time then this feature lets the system into sleep mode by pausing all the applications, which would lead to better battery performance. Doze mode lets the system resume periodically so that the applications can do the data syncing.

App Standby is similar to Doze feature but for applications inside the device. App Standby identifies all the applications that are idle without any user interaction and puts them to sleep mode which means that the applications cannot use the system resources, run background processes, access network for data syncing when in sleep mode which actually results better batter optimization.

Improved Text Selection

Improved Text Selection in Android 6
Improved Text Selection in Android Marshmallow Version

Android now has introduced an improved Text selection setup. Text Selection in Marshmallow has been made simpler than the previous versions. On long pressing the floating pop up is shown with options cut, copy, paste along with an action bar instead of the old tool bar that appears on top.

 

 

 

Voice and Assists API

The dialer shortcut on the lock screen has been replaced with google voice assist feature. This can be used to unlock device or to launch applications from home screen. Voice assist can also be used inside applications by providing the voice assistant with additional context inside the app.

Memory Manager – RAM

Memory Manager Ram - Marshmallow (Android 6)
Marshmallow Memory Manager

In Marshmallow RAM management has its own settings menu called ‘Memory’, which lets users to track applications and their respective memory usage over different time periods. Users can also see the maximum memory usage by each application and users can locate ‘Memory’ from settings > apps > tap the three dots up top and select Advanced > Memory.

Revamped Notification Settings – Do Not Disturb

The pull down notification bar remains the same for most part except a new set up called ‘Do not Disturb‘  feature in included in android M. Selecting this turns off all the notifications, alarms and other events. The feature can be customized based on the preferences. The available modes are

  • Priority only – allow certain people or apps
  • Total silence – blocks everything.
  • Alarms only – allow only alarms.

Redesigned App Drawer with Search box

Android 6 (Marshmallow)- Redesigned App Drawer with Search box
Redesigned App Drawer with Search box in Android 6 (Marshmallow)

The Application Drawer has got a new UI when compared to older one. The horizontal pages of app drawer is replaced with one huge vertical page in android M. The applications are still listed alphabetically but there is a dedicated row on top for recently launched apps, which can give easy access to recently used apps.

There is also a search bar included on top of the app drawer to easily search for an app, on typing the app list is sorted and the relevant apps are placed on top.

Android Pay – Google wallet is replaced.

Android Pay in Marshmallow - Google wallet is replaced in Android 6
Android Pay in Marshmallow – Google wallet is replaced

Android M has introduced a feature called Android Pay a digital wallet similar to Apple and Samsung Pay which lets users to add they credit or debit card information to their android pay wallet and make the payments with android pay without the need to carry the cards with them. Android Pay is simple to set up but it’s still in the early stages, users can expect a lot more in the coming versions from google.

Other Minor Features

  • Default Apps – Default apps can be set for common tasks a useful feature in android M.
  • Heads-up notifications – Option to turn off the heads-up notifications introduced.
  • Delete screen-shot – Option to delete screen shot after capturing.
  • Better Home Screen – The Font on the home screen has been made bolder for better visibility.
  • System UI Tuner – UI tuner setting to tweak better various aspects of UI interface.
  • Chrome custom tabs – Now chrome tabs can be used inside the applications.

Hope these inputs were helpful. If you would like to share your thoughts please mail to me at : jesudass_a@trigent.com

Jesudass

Senior Android Developer in Trigent with 5 years of experience in both web and mobile application development. I have completed master's degree in computer applications from Anna University. I have been part of developing 80+ applications and look forward to do a lot more.