Google’s big fall event is behind us, and we have some great new hardware to show for it. The new Nexus 5X is the hotly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Nexus 5, and it’s everything Android fans were hoping for. Then the larger Nexus 6P offers an all-aluminum body, a 2K display and solid performance for a surprisingly affordable price. Bold phones are set to begin shipping next month, and fans of the “pure Android” experience can’t wait.
Of course, Google also spent some time on software during Tuesday’s press conference, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow is set to begin rolling out next week.
Android fans with recent Nexus devices like the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet will be able to update their devices to Android 6.0 beginning early next week. Google hasn’t set an official date that the Marshmallow rollout will begin, but a number of reports have pinpointed October 5th as the day Google’s latest software will begin hitting devices.
If you don’t have a Nexus phone or tablet, the wait will be a bit longer. What will you be missing while your manufacturer works to update its devices to Android 6.0 in the coming months? Below, we’ll go through the five best new features coming to smartphones and tablets with Marshmallow.
First things first: Android 6.0 promises huge improvements where battery life is concerned. Using a combination of hardware sensors and software tweaks, phones and tablets running Marshmallow will know when they’ve been sitting idle for a period of time, and they will disable some background processes and other battery-hungry features while they’re not in use.
You’ll still get notifications, but battery life will be stretched out substantially by this new development. If your phone is sitting idle on your desk next to your computer all day, there’s no reason your battery should suffer like it does now.
Google Now on Tap
Google Now is already one of the best things about Android (and iOS, if you download the Google Search app), but it’s getting a huge shot of adrenaline in Android 6.0. Dubbed “Google Now on Tap, the new feature adds information from third-party apps to the pool of data Google Now will sift through and act upon.
Hold the home button while in any app and Google Now will analyze it instantly. Here’s an example of how it might be used: your friend texts you with “Hey let’s go to Dante’s Pizza tonight.” Holding the home button will trigger Google Now on Tap, which might show you the restaurant on a map, let you know what its hours are today, and link you to some reviews.
It’s an awesome feature, and it pushes Google Now even further ahead of the competition.
Cut, Copy, Paste
This might seem like a small change, but it’s going to have a big impact on the way you use your phones and tablets.
In earlier versions of Android, selecting text would open a series of buttons at the top of the screen, and many people are still confused about what each one does. In Android 6.0, selecting text or a photo will pop up a menu directly above your selection with the words “cut,” “copy,” and “paste,” just like iOS. This makes things much easier since your finger is obviously already right there as you make your selection.
New App Permission Structure
There’s another feature Android borrowed from iOS, but this time it also improved upon it.
Currently, it’s all or nothing with app permissions until you install some third-party tweaks on your Android device. In Marshmallow, however, you can pick and choose which permissions each individual app gets. So, for example, if you want to install Facebook but you never want the app to have access to your camera or location, you can do that now.
The only bad news here is that killing individual app permissions in the early days of Android 6.0 will cause some problems. Developers have to update their apps in order to ensure that they keep functioning properly with certain permissions disabled, and that will probably take a while.
App Backup and Restore
Switching to a new phone or restoring an existing phone that you wipe is a huge pain with Android devices. Beginning with Marshmallow, however, that’s going to change.
When an Android 6.0 device is idle and connected to Wi-Fi, it will automatically backup app data and settings to Google Drive behind the scenes. If you ever wipe your phone or switch to a new one, you’ll finally be able to quickly and easily restore all of your apps as they were previously.