At Google’s I/O developer conference, the company detailed the success of the Android mobile operating system, noting that 80% of devices shipped last year with Android on board. It also previewed its next operating system, so far known as Android M (it should get the usual dessert-themed nickname a bit later). We can expect Android M in the third quarter of this year, although since the actual release of mobile operating systems are determined by the handset companies and carriers in the U.S., most people may have to wait a bit longer before getting their upgrade.
But when they do eventually get it, they are in for some pretty sweet features. Here are some of the most exciting from a user perspective:
- Google is changing its permissions. Instead of getting a bunch of esoteric requests to use your location or microphone when you download an app, Android will start asking when the permission is needed, much like Apple’s iOS does. This is clearer for users and should help with security.
- Android Pay is finally here. It will use NFC on radios on the phone to let you pay with your handset at more than 700,000 retail locations with one touch. Pretty sweet.
- Google has launched a feature called Chrome Custom Tabs that lets you open the Chrome browser or even another app from an existing app so you can get more information without leaving the original app. The custom tab sites will also load more quickly and offer custom-branding. Several people have compared it to Facebook’s Instant Articles, only for every single app out there.
- Google has launched a feature called Doze that will save you up to twice as much on battery life by sensing when your tablet or phone is not moving for a long time and then putting the processors mostly to sleep.
- No more annoying questions when you open an app. Right now if you click on a link in an email that opens an app you have on your phone today, you get a dialogue box that asks if you’d like to open the app to view it. With the upgraded M, that box goes away, and you’ll go directly to the content you wanted.
- Your phone can now charge other devices. I have no idea if anyone would ever want to use this, but because Android M will support new USB Type-C cables, if you have those ports on your phone and want to use the phone as a charger, you can if you’re running Android M.
There are a few other little touches to look forward to, such as easier sharing, and copying and pasting menus that are more accessible, but the features above are going to be the ones you will probably notice the most.
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