Android Marshmallow: What’s New

Android has come a long way since the ever-popular and limited Gingerbread version that it released in 2010. While the majority of its most noticeable improvements were interface-related, there were a lot of changes “under the hood” that made the operating system more efficient and its compatible applications more versatile. Announced on May 28, 2015, Android version 6.0 (Marshmallow) adds more to the pile of improvements already made in the previous iteration. Here are some of the most interesting things that you can expect to see in phones running it.

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For those of you who are more privacy-minded (a recommendation I have for everyone reading this), you may have encountered a significant amount of frustration when installing an app on your phone because of the various permissions you had to approve in order for the application to work at all. You could either approve them all from the get-go or refuse to install the app in the first place. This presented a significant amount of inflexibility and has led to developers creating new versions of the apps that accounted for these shortcomings. With Android’s new version you no longer have to think in terms of whether you should let the app do whatever it wants or not. Instead, you are presented with the option of allowing certain permissions while restricting others. The new settings scheme affords you a new level of freedom when it comes to controlling what apps can and cannot do on your phone.

Until Android 6, manufacturers had to implement their own workarounds that allowed the operating system to recognize the phone’s fingerprint sensor. Instead of having each manufacturer use a different standard, Google has decided to implement native support for fingerprint sensors within this new version. Android Marshmallow has the ability to recognize and make use of any fingerprint sensor on phones that support this feature. This helps standardize the way in which manufacturers go about introducing biometric authentication technology on your phone.

Google is adding a new feature to Android Marshmallow in the form of something called “Doze.” It will ensure that your battery drains more slowly by closing all of the applications you aren’t using on your phone. For example, as it sits still, Doze quietly shuts off app activity to conserve resources and make sure that you can get as much battery life as possible out of your device. Until Doze appeared, vanilla installations of Android consistently allowed apps to use the device hardware as much as they needed to, as if you would be using them constantly. With Marshmallow, a fair amount of idleness will mean that your mobile device will no longer be using as much of its hardware to run static applications, and you’ll be saved from the surprising drop in battery voltage when you lift your phone or tablet up again.

When you are editing text, instead of getting the usual clunky display at the top of the screen, you will be prompted to cut, copy, or paste right above what you have selected, like so:

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Were these features welcome, or were they a waste of time to include in an entirely new version of Android? What should Google focus on for future versions? Tell us in a comment!