Android M was officially announced last week with a developer preview which gives us insight to some of the new features and improvements found in the latest version of Android. I went ahead and flashed Android M on my Nexus 6 and so on this video, I just want to go ahead and walk through around 20 new features and improvements and/or design changes that are worth mentioning in my opinion.
So first of all on the lock screen, we now have a bolder font to display the time with a pencil thin font here to display the day of the week as well as the day of the month. We also have access to Google Voice Search at the bottom here, which actually used to be for the Dialer app. So now you can just swipe it open to access Voice Search, where you can ask Google for just about anything.
On the opposite end, we have the camera app icon shortcut, which we can open up to activate the camera so that’s not new at all. The only thing new about the camera app so far is the focus ring, which now pulses in and out rather than from side to side like you’re focusing on traditional DSLR lens. Now it just pulses in and out like so.
There’s also one new wallpaper so if you go into Wallpapers, we will see that these are all stock, these were here before. But we have this new one here which looks pretty good. It’s like an aerial view of a beach and we have it fading into the blackness where the icons are. It looks pretty good.
The app drawer looks completely different though. It’s a lot uglier but it is more functional. At the top, you can search for a specific app like YouTube for example. You also have four of the most recent apps that you opened. And then on the bottom, you have a vertical scroll list of all the apps that you have in alphabetical order. So you know, it’s more functional, it’s more organized but it just looks really bad in my opinion. In this preview, you cannot change the layout of this app drawer although I’m pretty sure Google will give us an option in future builds so if you’re like me and you think this app drawer looks ugly, chances are, you will be able to change it. But right now, you can’t.
With Android M, we now have new volume controls so you can now go Home and completely silent our smartphone and only allow alarms, which I’m glad they put this back. The priority notifications idea was pretty neat but it’s also kind of time consuming to set the priority of each app so I’m really glad you can silence everything here like the good old days. There is also a drop-down bar which allows you to change the music playback volume as well as the alarm volume and then you can end the Do Not Disturb mode all together by just pressing End Now.
If we go to the Widget section, we’ll see that it’s not presented in a vertical format so you can now swipe through all your widgets vertically, which is different. It’s no longer side to side for better or for worse. And now if an app has multiple widgets, you can now slide through them like so.
Google Now is also greatly improved. There’s a new feature called Google Now on Tap, which you can activate by long pressing the Home button so right now it doesn’t work as you can see here but if I go to a certain page with information and I long press the Home button, Google Now will pop up and in future builds, it’ll basically scan the page and give me relevant search results for the main subject that I’m viewing. It doesn’t work in this build unfortunately but I’m really excited to test it out because it has a ton of potential and it’s probably my favorite feature of Android M.
In the Quick Settings, we now have a Do Not Disturb option which we could cycle through and toggle on/off. And if we open it up, we now have options to totally silence our phone, allow for only the alarms, and it also allows for priority messages or notifications only. If we go to the More Settings, you can actually customize the priority only notifications from the Reminders, Events, Messages, Calls, and even Repeat Callers. And if we go back, we can set the length of time for two hours, three hours, all the way up to 12 hours. What’s really neat is that actually, if we dive back to the More Settings, you can go to the automatic rules and actually automate this process. So if you have school on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11, you can manage all this stuff and make sure you don’t receive notifications when you’re in class for example. So I can really see myself using this for school especially.
If we jump into the settings, we now have a few options and features and categories here. I want to take a look at the apps section, which if we go into it, we can swipe a certain app and actually manage the permissions and turn off certain permissions. So if you don’t want Chrome, for example, to access the camera, you can just deny it access to the camera just like that; which is a new feature and it’s pretty darn impressive. This works for just about all areas of the device. It just depends on which app has access to certain functions. So I can turn off the location, I can turn off the microphone. If I jump back to other apps, you’ll probably see a different story like in Drive, I can turn off contacts for this app and so forth.
There’s also a new memory app section, which we can activate by going to Advanced > Memory, and there we have it. We can now view how much memory each app is using; which is pretty neat. If we go back to Storage in the Settings, you can view your entire storage here and if you have a microSD card in your smartphone or your tablet, you’ll also be able to view the storage of that SD card as well.
There’s also a new Tap & Pay section, which manages Android Pay and will allow you to input a credit card and pay for stuff using that card from your phone. So it’s not quite active yet so I can’t really demonstrate any of the features but when it does become up and running, I’ll be sure to test it in detail. But in the future, this will probably be where you have all your Android Pay settings.
The battery section doesn’t look any different though so if we go to the battery section here, it’s going to look very similar to previous versions of Android. However, there is a built-in dose feature which uses the sensors in your phone or your tablet to determine when you’re not using your device to help conserve battery power. You can’t really see anything different here but I will be sure to test the dose feature in detail over the course of the next few days and weeks but I’m assuming standby time will, in theory, be greatly improved.
The last thing that I want to mention is the Easter egg that we can find by going to the About section and tapping on Android version M, which pops up with a Material Design alphabetical letter M. nothing happens when you tap on it but if you long press on it, you get this little shrug, this emoticon here that shrugs. So the official name of the next version of Android isn’t official yet. Although recent reports indicate that it will be called Android Milkshake so feel free to let me know what you think the M will stand for in the comment down below.