Google Android M focuses on a better user experience

Forging ahead with its bread-and-butter mobile platform, Google is offering a developer preview of its upcoming Android M OS, which focuses on improvements in areas ranging from app permissions to mobile payments.

What's new in Android M

With Android M, Google is focusing on six areas to improve the core user experience, including changing app permissions to give users more choice in control of the data and hardware that apps access. "We're greatly simplifying app permissions to smaller set of easily understood things," like microphone and location, said Dave Burke, Google's vice president of engineering, at the Google I/O conference yesterday.

Also with Android M, Google is standardizing support for fingerprints, which could be used to authorize mobile payment transactions or unlock the device. Developers can use fingerprint APIs for their own applications as well.

In the upcoming release, Android will get smarter in managing power via a feature called Doze. Motion detection determines if a device has been left alone for a long time, and app refresh pace is traded off for longer battery life, though the device still can respond to incoming chat requests.

Another area of improvement, called Web experience, uses Chrome custom tabs for signing onto favorite sites and leveraging the Chrome security model. And the new app links feature makes it easier to direct users to compatible apps when they click on links to specified URLs.

Android enhancements outside of M

Google also previewed its Android Studio 1.3 developer tool, featuring faster Gradle build speed, a new memory profiler, and full editing and debugging support for C++.

And it promised support in the Android hardware specification for the new USB Type C standard, which should result in faster charging of devices by three to five times, according to Burke.

Finally, Google announced Android Pay, a new payment system that adopts the tokenization approach of Apple Pay to better secure mobile payments. Android Pay supports, but does not require, use of a fingerprint scanner, and it's promised to work with any Android device equipped with an NFC chip running Android KitKat or later. It should become available this summer as an Android app, as well as part of existing apps' payment services.


Paul Krill

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