Marshmallow is finally rearing its sweet and fluffy head, and that means Android users have a few more things to be happy about this Fall, or possibly Winter. However, the developer preview mode of 6.0 has recently just been released for the Nexus 5, 6, 7, 9, and Player.
The date that Marshmallow will roll out on non-Nexus devices is still a little unclear at this stage, and not all devices will take advantage of 6.0 at the same time. Though, with that, said, there’s still a lot to be excited about.
Without getting all fluffy about this sweet fluffball of an update, let’s get right down to what an Android device can do when Marshmallow is at the helm.
What Does Marshmallow Bring to the Table?
Being the latest letter in the alphabet in the Android family Marshmallow is certain to make your device the best it can be. It will do that with a few new features, some new to only certain Android devices, some new all the way across the board, and all of them making your Android experience easier and more convenient.
Integrated Fingerprint Recognition
Systems that use fingerprint recognition or authorization aren’t new to all Android devices, but with Marshmallow this kind of system will be built directly into 6.0. What this means is that far more people will be able to take advantage of this technology when it comes to Android development and implementation.
Some might write off the use of fingerprints on phones and tablets as silly or useless, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve forgotten a password for something. If there’s one thing, you definitely can’t forget it’s to press a finger against your screen when asked. I’ll take that any day over having to remember a password that needs an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, four numbers, two special characters, and my first pet dog’s birthday.
With this you’ll be able to use the prints you carry around with you 24/7 to unlock your device, do checkouts on the Google Play Store, and even for use in other apps that support it.
If you’re familiar with Samsung Pay or other ways to pay with your phone, this won’t come as much of a shock to you. In fact, Android Pay isn’t actually new to Marshmallow. Why is it being covered in this list of features then? Android Pay will be able to take advantage of the built-in fingerprint technology of 6.0 to make this process even easier.
It may not be something that every 6.0 user will take advantage of, but it’s certainly something that’s a worthwhile convenience that every Android user will have access to.
While I’m sure most of us are thankful that our phones at least ask us for permission to do certain things, they sure can be annoying about it. It’s also a pain to have to deny or allow an app outright to permission for anything. If there are certain things you don’t want it to have access to, like your Facebook or your contacts, for example, it makes sense to do, though.
Well with Android Marshmallow permissions are getting a much appreciated revamp.
Now instead of just getting a flat list to deny or accept you’ll be able to allow or disallow permissions individually.
You’ll even be able to turn them off and on at any time just in case you have a change of heart down the line. This is an amazing addition to the permissions system already in place and definitely makes you feel like you have more control over what devices can and can’t do on your device.
Less Annoying Applinks
Just like permissions, in-app links are also treated differently in 6.0. If you’ve ever been annoyed by pop-up boxes asking you which app you want to open a link with, this is for you.
Now you could just open the link automatically instead of going through a frustrating middleman step.
Google Now on Tap
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person in the world who has seen something on a web page, or in a text message that I then highlighted and Googled to find out more about it. Well, with Google Now on Tap that sort of process is made a lot easier.
On any screen, press and hold the home button and Google Now on Tap will scan everything being displayed. Let’s say you got a message to meet up with a friend at a restaurant or cafe you’ve never been to before. Google Now on Tap would then bring up anything from pictures of the place, its address, operating hours, or maybe even reviews so you can tell your friend you should meet up somewhere else.
Google Now on Tap is pretty much just an improvement on the already useful Google Now (which is getting a boost from Marshmallow as well) in every way, shape, and form. It’s another useful feature being added to Android 6.0.
Automatic Wi-Fi Backups
With Marshmallow’s new backup system, you’ll never have to worry about having to manually backup your phone again. Once a day when your phone is inactive and connected to Wi-Fi it will backup all of the data you’d need to get your phone back to the way it was just a few minutes earlier. All of it will be tucked away safely in Google Drive for whenever you need it for a restore.
This will only happen when on a Wi-Fi connection, so there’s no worry of it running up your data bill. The new backup system is one that I can’t really see any issue with, so it’s a welcome addition as far as I’m concerned.
Doze Battery Saver, App Standby, and USB Type C
Android 6.0 promises to have better battery life across the board than ever before using a new feature it likes to call, Doze.
When a Marshmallow device senses it isn’t being used for a certain amount of time, Doze will come into effect. Any background process that doesn’t need to function while your device is taking a nap will settle down for a nap as well, leaving your battery free of more draining processes.
When your phone is awake, seldom-used apps that still take more of their fair share of battery will be put into App Standby.
This should make sure you really do get the most out of your last charge. And to make sure you get that charge even faster Android devices will use Type C USB connections which are vastly improved over Micro USB. That also means none of your old chargers will be compatible with new phones, but the cost will be well worth it.
With something like this operating under the hood battery life on all 6.0 Android devices should last longer than ever, which will give you more time to experience all the other things Marshmallow has to offer.
A Better App Drawer
I’ve never been that big of a fan of the app drawer. Swiping through pages of all the apps on my phone just makes me feel like I’m going through a horribly cluttered home screen. Thankfully, some tweaks to the app drawer being made in Marshmallow take care of my gripes.
Instead of swiping left and right through your drawer, you now have one vertical and alphabetically ordered list with a pleasing white background. Your top four used apps are even sitting at the top as the rightful rulers of your drawer, directing the masses as you scroll through them vertically.
Or, you could just use the handy search bar easily visible at the top. The choice is up to you since the four rulers underneath it are just figureheads at best.
Clear and Simple App Settings
If you’ve gone into your Settings Menu, gone into your apps, tapped one, scratched your head at whatever in the world your phone was trying to tell you, and then closed your settings defeated, it’s time to scratch your head in defeat no longer.
When viewing your app settings in Marshmallow an app’s battery usage, the space it takes up, data usage, its various permissions, and notification settings are displayed clearly and simply. This allows you to have easy access to all of your important information about the app and really take control of everything going on inside of your phone with any level of Android knowledge.
SD Cards Are Now Truly On-Board Storage
If you’ve been upset with your Android device turning its nose up at your SD card, you don’t have to worry any longer. In Marshmallow, all of the bad blood between SD cards and Android got washed under the bridge as they’re treated just like an expansion of your device’s onboard storage.
Now you can feel free to dump anything you want onto your SD card and have it run like it would normally. The data on your SD card is even kept safer than ever before so feel free to slide in that 500TB mini SD and never worry again.
Easy Text Selection and Translation
I’ve fumbled a lot with highlighting text on my phone in the past. In fact, I fumbled when highlighting text again several times today, but on Marshmallow selecting text is a lot easier and faster too.
It doesn’t stop there either; copying and pasting are now made simpler by an added toolbar above selected text. However, cut, copy and paste aren’t the only words in the toolbar. There’s a share option now as well which you can use to share the selected text to any other app on your phone with the press of the button.
If you have the Google Translate app installed on your phone, you can even translate any text you highlight with the press of a button. I don’t think there’s much more you could ask for when it comes to highlighting options, except maybe highlighter color choices.
A Return to Easy Silence and a Better Do Not Disturb System
Not everything in Marshmallow is an innovative improvement, some of the changes are just a return to good form that probably shouldn’t have been changed in the first place. The old way to slip into silent mode is back, meaning in 6.0 all you have to do is turn your volume all the way down and your phone will stay perfectly silent unless you have upcoming alarms.
The Do Not Disturb system has gone through some changes as well. Known as the Priority Notification system on Lollipop, Marshmallow now has multiple Do Not Disturb settings that should fit every user’s needs.
In your notifications pull down you’ll find options to set Do Not Disturb as either total silence, alarms only, or priority only for certain apps and notifications that you’ve given priority to. You can set your phone to be in one of these states for a set amount of time or permanently until you switch it back off.
There’s also a setting for phone calls where a call will be allowed through if that number calls twice within a fifteen-minute window, making it great for still receiving calls that could be emergencies.
Voice Commands in Apps and Direct Sharing
While this is something that app developers will have to take advantage of properly, apps in 6.0 will have the ability to take voice commands in conjunction with the Okay Google system. There’s no telling what developers will do with this sort of technology, so it’s really a situation where we’ll have to sit and wait. Unless of course you’re an app developer yourself, then what are you waiting for?
If what you were waiting for was direct sharing, then you won’t have to wait for much longer. Apps will also have the ability to share anything with one of your contacts, or in a conversation with multiple people. That’s two cool things in Marshmallow we’ll need to wait and see how the device creatively integrate into new apps and games.
Easily Located RAM Manager
Now when looking through your settings you can easily select RAM right from the first page and see how much RAM each function of your device is munching on. While this might not interest every Android user, it’s very useful for this to be out in the open without having to dig for it.
Landscape Home Screen
If it’s every annoyed you not to have your home screen rotate along with apps, Marshmallow flips that little problem on its head… or at least on its side. Now when on the home screen you can either have it in portrait like normal, or landscape.
It may not be a feature I’ll use much, but I’ll always be in favor of more options for personalization.
Customizable Status Bar
In 6.0, you now have access to a UI tuner in your Developer Options. With the UI tuner enabled you can turn status icons on and off at will. If you don’t like having your status bar flooded with icons, you don’t need to be reminded of you can switch them off with a single tap, or multiple if you still have to navigate to the UI tuner.
Anything that means I can have my status bar free and clean of icons I wish is welcome in my book.
A New Voicemail Setup
This is a feature that will be specific to carriers but is still worth mentioning as a possibility. While voicemail in the past didn’t have a proper visual interface to interact with, a new visual system will replace the old audio centric one.
With specific carrier support, your voicemails will have a visual menu attached to them rather than just simply having the audio to listen to. Granted this feature doesn’t have much support yet, but Marshmallow has barely been allowed out of the playpen.
Which Devices Are Compatible with Marshmallow?
There are a lot of Android devices announced to be compatible with Marshmallow currently, and some haven’t been announced or may never get there. Here’s a short list of all Marshmallow compatible devices, though when all of them will actually have 6.0 installed is another question that doesn’t have an answer yet.
- Nexus 4
- Nexus 5
- Nexus 6
- Google LG Nexus 5
- Motorola Nexus 6
- Google Editions Series of Samsung phones
Google Android One
- Spice Dream Uno
- Micromax Canvas A1
- Karbonn Sparkle V
- Lava Pixel V1
- Infinix Hot 2
- Nexian Journey One
- Moto X Style
- Moto X Play
- Moto X(2014)
- Droid Turbo
- Moto G (2nd and 3rd Gen)
- K3 Note
- ZUK Z1
- Vibe Shot
- Galaxy S5
- Galaxy S6 Edge+
- Galaxy S6 (And S6 Edge)
- Galaxy Note 4
- Galaxy Note 5
- Galaxy Alpha
- Galaxy A8, A7
- HTC One M8
- HTC One M9
- M9 Plus
- E9 Plus
- HTC One E8
- HTC Desire Eye
- Desire 820 series
- Sony Xperia M5
- C5 Ultra
- Xperia Z3 Plus
- Xperia Z3 Compact
- Xperia Z2
- Xperia Z1
- Xperia Z Ultra GPE
- G Flex 2
- G Flex
- G2 Pro
- Zenfone 2 series
- Zenfone 2 Laser
- Zenfone Selfie
- Zenfone 4
- Zenfone 5
- Zenfone 6
- OnePlus One
- OnePlus 2
- Xiami Mi4
- Mi 4i
- Mi Note
- Mi Note Pro
- Redmi Note 2
- Redmi 2 (+ Prime)
- Redmi Note (2014)
- Redmi 1S
- Ascend P8
- Mate 7
- Honor 6 Plus
- iBerry feat
- Auxus Prime P8000
So there’s really only one question left: Should you update to Marshmallow? The short answer here is yes, yes you should. Marshmallow simply makes your Android device better than it was before with a few little (and large) tweaks and helpful features.
If your device is compatible, I can’t urge you enough to make the push. Not all the devices on the list are Marshmallow ready as of writing, but they will be with time. If you’ve gotten attached to Lollipop, or maybe even don’t want to leave KitKat, now is the time to make your peace and get ready for the switch.
6.0 is finally here and ready to remind you again why your mobile device is running the best OS on the possible market.
Know any cool features that 6.0 brings to the table that isn’t mentioned here? Why not leave it in the comments?
If you have time, tell us about what you’re most excited to see from Android Marshmallow!