In Google’s Android-Candy Universe, “M” Is For Marshmallow
Android 6.0 update brings range of promised features to developers.
Someday, in a museum, there will be an exhibit of all the statues representing all the different versions and flavors of Android. The latest — Android 6.0, or “M” — is being called “Marshmallow.” The official SDK is now available for Android developers.
When Google announced “M” at its I/O developer conference earlier this summer, the update promised (and presumably now delivers) a range of major and minor improvements for developers and users. For example, it gives Android owners finer control over app permissions — what phone features (e.g., location) your apps can access.
Another feature called “Doze” will conserve power when the phone is at rest or in standby mode, extending battery life. Fingerprint authentication is being standardized in M. Most Android devices and apps don’t currently utilize it, but that will change with the next round of hardware releases.
The most immediate and obvious use case for biometric authentication is Android Pay, Google’s Apple Pay competitor and the successor to Google Wallet, which lives on in diminished form as a peer-to-peer payments tool. Samsung, the leading Android OEM, has its own initiative called, naturally, Samsung Pay, which will directly compete with Android Pay for the hearts and minds of Android users. Samsung Pay doesn’t require an NFC-enabled POS terminal to work and so can be used much more broadly on the existing payments infrastructure.
Marshmallow also introduces Google Now on Tap, an expanded and enhanced version of Google Now, which enables, among other things, contextual search and more fluid navigation between apps. Google updated its iOS app to enable a narrower version of these capabilities.
Most recent Nexus buyers and select other Android owners will gain near-term access to Android 6.0 when the OS update rolls out later this fall. Others will be at the mercy of their carriers.