Better battery life and smarter apps are among new Android M features now available to developers
Google has opened up its plans for the future of mobile software with a first look at the next generation of Android.
The company has showed off Android M for the first time at its Google I/O conference in San Francisco, revealing ‘hundreds of improvements’ to its mobile platform, although it’s nothing like the full-scale upgrades of previous launches.
As was the case with Lollipop, the previous edition of Android, the as-yet fully-unnamed Android M will first be released as a Developer Preview, allowing fans to experience and help test the new software ahead of a wider release later this year.
Among the new features and enhancements coming to Android M are upgrades to app stability and permissions, a boosted Google Now service, and improvements battery life and to how users surf the web on a mobile device.
This latter upgrade brings a new feature to Chrome called “Chrome Custom Tabs”. This allows developers insert webviews directly into their apps, meaning users no longer get kicked out of an app when clicking on a link. Chrome features like automatic sign-in, saved passwords, autofill, and multi-process security are also all now available to developers to add into their apps.
As for the apps themselves, one of the major new additions to Android M is a redesigned apps permissions system.
This means that users will now be able to approve or deny security permissions, such as camera or location access, on a case by case basis, rather than the current system which asks users to approve all permissions at once when installing an app.
This brings Android up to speed with iOS, which runs the same system, and also means that apps won’t need to ask for permissions with every update in the future.
Away from apps, Android M also looks to give mobile devices a power boost with the new Doze feature. This uses motion detects to work out if a device has been left unattended for a while, and if so, will gradually shut down background activity such as app updates, in order to ensure a longer battery life.
Google sees this as being a useful feature for apps that often see infrequent action, such as chat apps, which could use high priority messages to wake your app when the device is dozing, or wearable apps, which react to a peak in activity.
Android M also sees an update to the Google Now service, which has been expanded to ‘Now on Tap’ to make it smarter than ever before.
Now on Tap (pictured right) is able to analyse whatever activity is taking place on your home screen and quickly suggest help or additions to it, all without ever having to leave the app.
For example, if you’re discussing where to eat, Google Now can quickly offer you additional information on places mentioned in a chat message, whilst also linking in other apps on your phone, like OpenTable or Yelp, allowing you to make a reservation, read reviews or check out the menu.
“We hope Now on tap can make your phone a little bit smarter and help you get things done quicker and in far fewer steps,” said Aparna Chennapragada, Google’s director of product management.
Developers looking to get their hands on Android M can register now, with a consumer release set for later this year.
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