Although Android 6 was announced in 2015, it was then only available on Nexus phones. This is a logical event considering that Google developed the specifications for Nexus. It was only in 2016 that Android 6 was rolled out as an update for other phones, as well as for the new models.
Android 6 Marshmallow is not only faster but also has a host of important features for users. Among other things, it is now easier to multi-task; it has more security features; and it also introduces a payment option.
The reason for the late roll-out for some manufacturers is the degree of customization which they include in their version of Android. There is also the bloatware in the additional apps which are bundled with their smartphones. However, the improvements which come with Android Marshmallow are worth the wait, and they should be something the phone manufacturers should promote. The following are the most important features of Android 6 Marshmallow.
Google Now on Tap
Google Now is the assistant for Android. However, it has not been seeing much use even among die-hard Android phone users. It can use voice commands, set alarms and other reminders, send messages and make calls. It can even search your Gmail and track other kinds of information. It can also do screenshots. Advancing Google Now further is the introduction of Now on Tap.
When you have an app onscreen, you can do a long press on the home button and Now on Tap will search any pertinent item or keyword you have on your screen, and present it as Google Search. You can be reading your email, or a page on the browser, and call up Now on Tap and it will search and show you more information about an item.
As Now on Tap gets used more, Google is expected to expand on its capabilities as well. With this technology, soon it will be able to call up reservations for a restaurant referenced in an email. Another far-fetched idea is if you were looking at shoes on a shopping site, and when you press Now on Tap, it would look up other information about the specific model you were looking at, and do a price comparison as well. For movies or TV series, it can also look up apps for recommendations along the same genre.
Google Now on Tap can be the intelligent assistant you wanted.
The App Tray
Manufacturers always have their own skins and layers on top of the app tray. This is where they usually put their stamp of individuality. There are degrees of variation, of course, and some go farther than most. However, the Marshmallow app tray has been improved by putting the four most commonly used apps on the top row. Literally on top of that, is a search apps window. This lets the user search the Android phone for a specific app. This is much like the search feature on Linux, or Searchlight on the OS X.
Usually, users would try to find an app by going through all the windows and folders. In this way, it is easier for the user to launch popular apps, or to do a search.
Permissions are now at the app level. This means that individual apps can be given permissions to access the phone’s features. These permissions include the use of the camera, geolocation access (GPS), microphone, files, emails, wifi connection, and even SMS. For the user, this means more secure apps, and better security overall. In addition, since the phone would not automatically use these items, the phone itself would not launch these services and save power in the process.
Permissions are a matter of contention. In previous versions of Android, these permissions were an all or nothing affair. With app level permissions, you can allow one app to have access to the microphone and camera, while other apps won’t have access to these devices.
Device security has been a problem for users since even before Android. The use of passwords is a logical first step, and in most instances of hacking, there was knowledge of the password which allowed the hacker to access the device. Companies and security experts keep reminding users to change their passwords often and to use random combinations of letters, numbers and other characters. Other suggestions include having long passwords. The most important suggestion by experts is not to write down the password. This is a Catch 22 situation.The only way to have a secure password is to use something which cannot be easily remembered, and yet the user is not allowed to write it down.
Fingerprint support is the easiest bio-metric solution. It is unique and it is more readily implemented compared to other bio-metric security measures. If you wish to use it, you only need to swipe your finger across the fingerprint reader. You would not need to enter your PIN, or swipe a pattern across the screen, or use a password. This is a welcome addition to Android security.
Android Pay has finally arrived. This is a payment scheme like Apple Pay. Money is electronically transferred to Android Pay in the same manner as other electronic payment schemes. This is then used to draw money for the user which he can use to pay for purchases using the phone.
As an infrastructure, this effectively makes Android (Google) a financial institution much like a credit card company or a clearing house. In the future, this can also be used to facilitate money transfer or payment of all sorts. It is still too early to see if this can be used for other services like Uber or for payment in Starbucks. However, the possibility is there.
Android 6 Marshmallow is considered a refinement over Lollipop. It does not present major improvements, however, the things it introduces are intriguing in the possibilities. Android 7 is just around the corner, with even more improvements but users will have to wait with the