Google is introducing the next version of Android, code-named Android M.
The company will be making an Android M developer preview available today for the Google Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player. A public launch of the operating system will be available later this year.
Update: The Android M Developer Preview and SDK is now available for download.
So what’s new in Android M? Here are some of the highlights
Google already lets you know what permissions an app uses before you download and install an app from Google Play. Starting with Android M, you’ll be able to adjust which permissions an app can use after it’s been installed.
The first time you want to use some features of an app, you may be prompted to decide if you want to grant access to your phone’s microphone, for example. But if you later decide you want to revoke mic access, you can do that.
The feature will only work with apps that have been updated to use the new permission model, but Google will be offering tools for developers to do that.
Google is updating its mobile payment service with the launch of Android Pay, a new solution that replaces Google Wallet.
You’ll be able to link your existing credit and debit cards to your device so that you can unlock your phone, tap it against any payment system at 700 thousand retail locations, and automatically initiate a payment without firing up an app.
Developers can also integrate Android Pay in their apps, allowing you to pay for in-app purchases.
Google is bringing native support for fingerprint readers to the operating system, allowing you to unlock your device with a fingerprint, and allowing developers to integrate fingerprint identification
Google is making improvements to power consumption that it says will allow twice the standby time on some devices. That’s thanks to a new feature called “Doze,” your device uses motion detection to discover when it hasn’t been used in a while, reducing background activity to save power.
The company also wants to enable faster charging, so the company is working with manfucturers to support USB Type-C ports which will not only let you charge a phone more quickly, but it will also let you decide which direction the charge will go in: you could charge your watch or another phone using an Android phone as a power bank.
Simplified volume controls
There are many other changes in Android M… but one that a lot of people will probably be happy to hear about is a revised volume management system.
Google says many people were unhappy with the changes introduced in Android 5.0, and so the company is making volume controls easier to use and adding support for a volume drop-down that allows you to control individual audio streams for music, alarms, and other things that make sound.
Chrome Custom Tabs
This is the sort of feature that, when it works right, you might not notice at all. But it lets developers bring web content to native apps more seamlessly.
Chrome Custom Tabs basically let apps display web content within an app using a simplified version of a browser tab from the Chrome web browser.