The latest version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow, is on the way! When it arrives, there will be a lot of new, awesome features that improve the overall experience. Most of them, however, are geared toward improving both the performance and stability of the platform. So, there are changes happening under the hood that you might never notice.
While we did cover the whole of the update extensively in another piece, we’d like to take a closer look at some of the updates that we’re most excited for. More specifically, these are five feature improvements that we absolutely cannot wait to get our hands on.
1. More precise cut, copy, and paste options
This may seem like an extremely minor, inconsequential feature — until you actually need to use it. The current copy and paste function in Android is a bit… frustrating.
Currently, when you long press on text, a URL, or a hyperlink, a few icons will appear in the top right of the display. They are not clearly labeled, and it’s pretty easy to get them confused if you don’t use them on a regular basis. Worse yet, if you tap one of the options by accident it can be aggravating to highlight the text all over again, especially if you’re trying to copy a large body.
In Marshmallow, the Android devs have improved the copy and paste experience by making it more precise. After the update, when you long press an element, a floating menu will appear with the words “cut, copy, paste, share.” It’s as simple as choosing the function you want and you’re on your way.
If you’re already a pro at using the old icons you might not like this feature right away, but it should grow on you. If only because it’s so simple and easy to use, which is probably what it should have been in the first place.
2. Auto backup and app restore through Google Drive
Even if you caught the Google I/O keynote where they announced the new version of Android and most of the upcoming features, you might be surprised to see this on the list because it wasn’t unveiled on stage.
In the latest version, the operating system will make use of an auto backup and restore feature for apps. App data, settings, and progress — with a maximum file size of 25MB — will automatically be backed up to the cloud via Google Drive. According to the devs, the backup will happen only once per day, unless otherwise specified, and will take place only via WiFi and when a charger is connected. That’s excellent news because it means it won’t drain any battery power.
In addition, any data uploaded to your Google Drive account will not affect your total storage quota. It will be secure as well, thanks to an advanced encryption method.
Are you wondering why any of this is exciting? If, for some reason, you misplace your phone, uninstall an app, or need to perform a factory reset, you can simply restore any and all progress the next time you install it just by signing in to your Google account. Even better, it works with all applications installed on your device, even those you side-loaded yourself or installed through a third-party app store like Amazon.
It is a shame there’s a 25MB cap limit because that means most saved games won’t backup automatically — a lot of them are pretty big in size. That said, you can always back them up yourself to your Google Drive account and download said data later whenever you need it.
3. Flex Storage
Google has been less than supportive of external storage options in the recent past. Most of its official devices don’t include support for external storage, and it’s clear the Android OS is not as accommodating as it could be. All of that is about to change.
In the past, you were forced to use mounting apps and special tools to turn your removable storage into extra space for apps, caches, and more. In Marshmallow, Google has added a new feature called Flex Storage, which allows you to designate your external storage — like your microSD card — and format it like native or internal storage. In short, now we’ll be able to store applications, app data, and personal data on our SD cards, and we can move said data freely between external and internal sources.
Yes, the usual form of security is offered for external storage too, which means your data is protected by a secure layer of encryption.
You might also be surprised to know that the new feature supports USB OTG drives (micro USB flash drives) as well. We absolutely cannot wait to expand our storage and make more room for everything! You can read more about how Flex Storage will work over at Android Police.
4. More control over app permissions (!!!)
In its current state, Android does give you the option to accept or deny permissions for apps you install — but not individually. You either accept them all as-is, or you accept none and forego installing the said application. This certainly gives you control over your device, but not in the way you’d necessarily expect or want.
In Marshmallow, you’ll see an improved app permission menu that works much differently, reports the blog Official Android. The whole process has been simplified. Instead of seeing one, blanket permission notification before you install an app, you’ll see a permission notification when an app needs to use a certain feature on your phone.
For example, let’s say you fire up Skype for the first time. It will ask permission to use the microphone and front camera on your device when you get ready to make a call. If you wanted, you could decline the mic notification, but accept the one for the camera.
In this sense, you can control what apps have access to what hardware and features on your phone. Surely, you’ve come across an app or two in the past asking for outrageous permissions that you wondered about. Now, you can simply deny access yet still have the application on your device.
You can also modify and update settings for app permissions later, which is great if you change your mind or come across something you didn’t before.
Ultimately, you’ll have more control over your device, not only in terms of what you install but also by what the apps installed on your device can actually do.
Don’t want anything to be able to access the front camera for security reasons? No problem! Want to lock out access to the microphone or location data? Feel free! It just makes sense to have more control over your device in this regard, especially in today’s world where your personal data is so much more valuable.
5. Improved battery life through Doze
Android 6.0 Marshmallow implements a new standby function called Doze. It makes use of your device sensors and usage data to recognize when the phone has been sitting idle for some time. When this happens, the OS will automatically stop running applications and reduce performance.
According to Google, this will provide a significant boost in battery life while your device is in standby, which means we should see our Android phones lasting for longer periods of time overall.
There’s no need to be concerned about Doze killing off important apps or notifications either. Even when the device has entered this state, it can still activate alarms, receive notifications, and perform basic functions.
Bring on Doze mode!