Android M latest news,rumours and release date
Google has unveiled the second developer preview of Android M, the forthcoming version of Google's Android mobile operating system, which is expected to launch to the public in the third quarter of 2015.
First unveiled at Google I/O on 28 May 2015, Android M – which is yet to be been given its "sweet treat" name – will succeed Android Lollipop.
The OS is reportedly being referred to internally as Macadamia Nut Cookie, but Google may opt for something more catchy for the public release. Maybe its Milky Way.
Power and charging
Google claims that Android M is the most powerful Android release yet. The update brings hundreds of improvements, but many of them are very incremental, so will be almost invisible to most users.
For example, a new feature called Doze detects when the device's motion sensor is inactive and cuts down on the level of background app activity. Google claims this can double the device's battery life.
Android M also brings support for a new type of USB connector called USB-C, which Google claims charges devices three to five times faster than the current microUSB chargers.
Like Apple's Lightning connector, USB-C chargers can be plugged in either way round, so you'll no longer have to fumble around in the dark trying to plug in your charging cable.
A new permissions system makes it easier for users to decide what information the apps on their phone can use, by giving them the opportunity to confirm or deny access in context.
For example, if you download WhatsApp on an Android device today, you will be asked to grant permission for WhatsApp to access your contacts, calendar, location, photos, camera, microphone and more. This can seem very invasive.
With Android M, users will not be requested to give any permissions at the point of download. It is only when they try to send a voice memo, for example, that they will be asked to grant access their microphone.
You can also revoke permission for an app to access certain information via a new option in the settings menu.
Now on Tap
As part of the Android M release, Google is updating its Google Now personal assistant to allow users to access information anywhere on their device, no matter what they are doing.
By tapping and holding the home button, users can pull up a query without leaving the app they are in. They can also use Google Now on Tap to find new apps and in-app content.
For example, if they are discussing a night out with a friend on Facebook, they can call up Now on Tap to check showing times for a film, or book a table in a restaurant using OpenTable.
The Android M update will bring support for Android Pay, Google's answer to Apple Pay, which lets you pay for things in shops using your Android smartphone.
Once you have registered your cards, you can simply unlock your phone and place it near a merchant’s contactless terminal to make a payment. Loyalty cards can also be used in this way.
Android M has native fingerprint support, so Android Pay can also confirm a purchase with their fingerprint. Fingerprint on M can also be used to unlock devices and make purchases on Google Play.
Developers can also build fingerprint authentication into their own applications, allowing users to sign in without the need for a password.
Other improvements in Android M are incremental, but should help users to improve the overall user experience.
For example, app links are being changed so that if you click on a Twitter link in an email,Android will launch the Twitter app on your phone automatically, rather asking if you want to open it using Twitter.
Meanwhile, a new feature called Android Auto Backup and Restore for Apps will be used in conjunction with Google Drive to automatically backup app data and settings with a file size of 25 MB or less.
The app drawer, where you can access all the apps on your phone, has also been redesigned, so that most recently used apps appear across the top, and other apps are arranged alphabetically, and scrolls vertically instead of horizontally.
The developer preview of Android M is already available on the Google Nexus 5 and 6 handsets, Nexus 9 tablet and Nexus Player.
It is also available on a selection of Sony devices includng the Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z1, Xperia Z1 Compact, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia E3, Xperia M2, Xperia T2 Ultra and the Xperia T3.
Following the second developer preview, which was released on 9 July and brought some minor bug fixes and changes to the user interface, Google has promised at least one more preview before a public release.
The public release date is set for the third quarter of 2015. Google has not been more specific than that, but many people are expecting a September launch.
As usual, the Nexus devices will get the update first. Given Sony's involvement in the developer preview, these handsets may also be among the first to get the final release. However, Google has not yet confirmed which devices will be updated first.