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May 28, 2015

Android M Developer Preview: What does it Focus on?

android m update

As Google I/O 2015 gets going, Android M is a topic of many questions. David Burke, VP of Engineering, gives us a jump start on what developers and users can expect to see in Android M. While the focus is on “quality and end” user experience, there is plenty of clean-up of the code, and exterminating bugs that pester users on Android 5 (Lollipop).

For starters, app permissions, something most users struggle with, is an aspect where Google wants to improve. Android M will start by simplifying permissions so that they’re easy to understand, like “location, camera, microphone”. Permissions requested by the app will occur on the first time use of certain aspect of the app, for example the mic on Whats App will request Microphone permissions, and not upon installation. With granular control over permissions, in Android M, users can go into the app and see what permissions have been granted, and modify them. App permissions apply to apps compiled based on the new M SDK.

The second point of improvement is the web experience on mobile devices.  The introduction of Chrome’s Custom Tabs allows developers to harness all of Chromes capabilities, while keeping control of their app experience. With Chrome Custom Tab, the actual Chrome Browser runs above app, within a browser window that keeps the aesthetics of the app users are running, without having to leave the app. For Developers, this function will be available today on Chrome Dev Channel.

Linking from an app to web is one thing, but linking between an app and another app on your mobile device is something else. With Android M, new App Links will be available so that apps can add auto-verify attribute, which will indicate to Android to verify links to app. The user experience is greatly improved improved thanks to the background work done by Google and app developers.

Android Pay. It’s just that simple. At least it will be on Android M, with the focus on: 1) Simplicity, with your device only needing to be unlocked and tapped on the terminal, 2) Security, with Virtual Account Numbers set up for the payment methods users setup on their acount, & 3) Choice, Android Pay as an open platform will allow users to choose the most convenient way to use Android Pay. Major US Mobile carriers, like AT&T/Verizon/T-Mobile, are working with Google to make Android Pay readily available to consumers. Along them, over 700K retailers accross the US are working with Google to ensure that they accept Android Pay. In our digital world, online retailers and digital purchasing is becoming the standard for consumers, so Android pay will also be available for in-app payments.

Alongside Android Pay, Google is taking advantage of manufacturer’s installing Fingerprint sensors on devices. What does this mean, fingerprint support on Android devices with a standard API for developers to use in their apps. Fingerprint verification will be available for users to authorize Android Pay transactions. The idea is that this will be fast and simple for consumers to use both Android Pay and app purchases, with minimal input.

Finally, another big area of improvement for Andrid M is power & charging. Google has a new feature they are calling “Doze”. With Android M, significant motion detection on the device will be used to determine usage during extended period of time, which will trigger “dozing”, or a better sleep mode. With this new feature, Android M devices have achieved x2 longer battery life on standby. Devices however still need to be charged, so Google is working hard to ensure that USB Type C becomes the standard for devices, which could theoretically provide 3-5x faster charging. As Dave says, “Type C,  coming to a phone near you soon.”

Other improvements focus on the user experience, such as word selection, an awesome floating toolbar, and improved sharing (which definitely needed improvement). Also, a simplified volume control system is being added into Android M, which includes a drop-down list of individual audio streams, such as music and alarms.

Stay with us as we follow Google I/O and bring you more updates on all the goodies Google has for us today and tomorrow.


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Waldo Corvera

Waldo lives in Texas, located in the Southern U.S. He is an Android addict, but plays well with others (Microsoft and Apple). In his spare time, you’ll find him teaching his toddler how to use technology.


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