The Definitive Guide to Android Marshmallow
The release of Android Marshmallow 6.0 brings with it several new features, adjustments to existing features, and other exciting changes. What follows is a detailed overview of the new features and changes you will receive with this update and a list of when various cell phone manufacturers will be releasing it.
New Software Features
The new Doze feature is designed to improve your phone’s battery life. When your phone has been still for a certain period of time it will automatically go to sleep to preserve its battery. However, even while dozing alarms and notifications still work.
App standby is an additional battery-life saving feature. When apps haven’t been used for a while they are put to sleep meaning they don’t draw on processing power, memory, or network data. There is also a whitelist so you can keep programs you need to remain active from going to sleep.
Native tap functionality is an enhancement to Google Now. With Tap you can pull up information anywhere on your phone no matter what you’re doing without having to close an open application. For example, if a friend mentions a restaurant via text messaging you can pull up Yelp and read reviews without leaving your text messaging application. To access it all you have to do is hold down the home button at the bottom of the screen.
New bio-metrics have been added to Android with this update. This means your fingerprint can be used instead of a password to unlock your phone and sign into various apps such as the Play Store and Android Pay. Some phones already support this function natively such as the Galaxy Note 5.
New Hardware Features
USB Type C
Marshmallow also supports the new USB C standard which allows for faster charging, faster data transfer, and the ability to have your phone charge other devices. Because this is hardware related the phone itself it has to have proper USB C ports to use the new cables and adapters.
Aside from microSD cards now being fully compatible you now have the option to format them for use with one specific device. This means that when formatted to your phone a microSD card is unreadable in any other device which increases data security.
Changes To Existing Features
As noted above the Android OS has received the ability to read your fingerprints with the Marshmallow update. This means to use Android Pay all you have to do is unlock your phone with a tap and scan your purchasing information at an NFC compatible terminal.
Improved Voice Control
With the Voice Integration API developers can now add voice controls directly to their apps. This means your phone and your apps are better integrated for voice commands. This allows you to tell your phone to open an app and for the app to do a specific thing all in a single statement.
Permission management for apps have been improved in Marshmallow. Previously app permissions were all or nothing selections. With these changes you can now specify what information you do and do not share with your apps. Also app permissions are not set until you open an app for the first time, previously you set them while downloading an app.
Volume & audio controls are now more detailed with separate volume controls for various phone functions. This includes ringtones, alarms, phone calls, and music all having their own distinct volume slider.
Highlighting text is now more intuitive. When selecting words the option to cut, copy, or paste selected material now appears as a floating menu as opposed to at the top of the screen on the toolbar.
Chrome’s tab management has been improved for mobile devices. These Custom Tabs allow websites to customize the toolbar and menu of your browser tabs with website specific features and options.
Marshmallow has made the operating system better about reading links. This means the phone will automatically detect if a link should open in an app or go to your web browser. This will cut down greatly on ‘Open With’ pop up messages.
App Backup & Security
Backup & security features can now be made automatic and also backs up data allowing for full cloud-based restoration. Also included with backup is the ability to remove all passwords and network connections such as WiFi, cellular data, and Bluetooth.
Regular security patches are now monthly and your phone lists the date of its last security patch under the ‘About Phone’ menu. Also encryption of data is enabled by default and Smart Lock manages passwords and ties them to your Google account for increased security.
User Interface Updates
- Settings Shortcuts now have enhanced icons showing what each setting does to be displayed in the cog widget. Previously all settings shortcuts had the same icon.
- The Lock Screen saw a minor update with a voice control shortcut replacing the dialer shortcut.
- The Voice Control Search has a new look with four dots floating and then changing into a voice readout waveform as you speak.
- The App Drawer has been redone and is now a virtual scrolling list. Also added is a scrubber bar on the right-hand side that allows you to jump to specific letters in the alphabet. At the top of the app drawer is an area that lists commonly accessed apps, predictive apps, time of day usage, and so on. The search bar is also now permanent and easily accessible by voice as well.
- Easier Uninstall when dragging app shortcuts you now have the option to uninstall the app completely added alongside pre-existing options such as information and remove.
- System UI Tuner this feature allows you to make slight changes to the UI. These include quality of life features such as a battery percentage, a customizable quick settings menu, and removing or adding icons in your status bar such as Bluetooth or NFC indicators.
- Improved Internal File Manager the internal file manager has had its user interface redesigned to make it easier to read and use.
- RAM Menu RAM now has its own dedicated menu labeled Memory.
- Improved Animations and New Emoji animations are improved as you move through the operating system giving a feeling of a polished user experience. Also 200 default emojis have been added and the rebranded ‘Flappy Bird’ easter egg returns with updated marshmallow graphics.
The Current Update Cycle
The time frame of your phone updating its operating system to Marshmallow depends on when your phone’s manufacturer decides to release the update. As such Android Marshmallow will be releasing at several different times depending on what cellular device you currently own. Here is the current release schedule for several major manufacturers.
Google has already updated their entire Nexus line with Android Marshmallow. The Nexus 5, 6, 7, 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and the entire range of Android One devices have all received the Marshmallow update. Newer models such as the 5X and 6P launched with it already installed.
Samsung has updated much of their Galaxy line already. The Galaxy 6S, 6S Edge, and Note 4 can all update to Marshmallow. The S7 and S7 Edge come with it preinstalled. For 5S owners, updates are currently starting to appear in Korea but nowhere else yet. The Note 5 and S6 Edge are expected to receive future updates however, nothing has been reported so far for the S4, Galaxy Alpha, or the Note 3.
HTC has been rather slow with their release cycle. Currently, The HTC One M8 and One M9 are currently receiving updates. The One A9, One E9, and Desire Eye have also been announced. HTC announced a list of cell phones slated to receive this update back in September 2015 but no further information has been made available.
Sony is updating much of its Xperia line with the current models the Xperia Z5, Z5 Compact, Z5 Premium, and Xperia Z3+ all receiving updates. Other phones will be receiving Marshmallow as well and Sony has released a full update list on their website.
LG has not released much information concerning updates to their current phone releases. The LG G4 has already received the Marshmallow update and the LG G5 was released with it already installed. While many of their phones meet the requirements for updating officially nothing has been released by LG.
Motorola has been proactive in getting the majority of their current model lines updated. The 2014 and 2015 lines for the Moto X and Moto G will see updates as will the Moto MAXX, Moto Turbo, and the Droid Turbo.
Huawei has announced updates for many of their recent releases in China. The full 14 phone list can be seen here. However, they have not clarified an overall release time frame for these updates or when phones in other parts of the world can expect to see them.
BlackBerry recently made the change to the Android platform with the BlackBerry Priv. Currently, they are working on getting Marshmallow released for the Priv however, there is no current release date announced.