Android L vs Android M : Google Android M developer preview is now official and here is how it fares against Android 5.0 Lollipop
Google has finally presented its ‘Android M Developer preview‘, during the I/O 2015 conference that was held last week. Till the preview was actually presented Android lovers had made lots of guess work regarding the new version. In this article we will compare the Android M and Android Lollipop version and check how the new Android M version scores over Android Lollipop. The ‘M’ is still a big secret as Google has presented only Developer preview and it will be some time before it releases the actual version. It goes without saying that the features which we may see in Android M may not be there till has been actually released to public and it could be a case that Google might add few novel features by then.
Lets check the different changes that have been incorporated in the new version i.e. Android M and how it scores over its predecessor Android Lollipop (Android L)
- App Permissions Control: With the Android M, users can now confirm permission to an individual app as per their function and requirement. Further, users will also get an option to revoke individual app permissions again, if need be. On the contrary, with Android L, it was essential to allow all app permission before users could download the required app from Google Play Store.
- Real Fingerprint API: Google has taken a major move by creating ‘standardized support’ for fingerprint scanners with its Android M. With its earlier versions every manufacturer was incorporating their own software solution and thus uniform access to finger print sensors was not possible. With this version Google has successfully tried to introduce the function which will allow users to use these fingerprint scanners not only to unlock their phones but also to authorize the payments through Android Pay NFC or even purchase apps in Play Store. An (Application Program Interface) API will also be made available to developers to build fingerprint compatibility in their apps.
- Android Pay: Google had been working on its Mobile pay system for quite some time and now it has officially announced Android Pay at the I/O conference. This is one of the simplest and secured payment option for users. Most important feature of Android Pay is that it does not store the credit card number, on the contrary the system creates a virtual number for each payment thus protecting user’s confidential data. With Android Pay users can now make payments with their credit cards for over 700,000 stores in US. This payment system is compatible with any device that has an in built NFC capabilities and runs on 4.4 KitKat or above. Google has partnered with American Express, Visa, Mastercard, Discover and carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, T Mobile. When combined with the finger print scanner features of Android M, Android Pay seems to be scoring over Apple Pay.
- Chrome Custom Tabs: Google has introduced this awesome feature of Chrome Custom Tabs which will provide users with a better user experience when they are toggling between the websites and apps. Actually, this feature allows the app to open a customized Chrome window on top of the active app thus helping users with speedy navigation between apps and the web. The Chrome app is not launched separately in this case. The Chrome Custom Tab feature also helps in easy integration of the apps and the web experience because it supports automatic sign-in, saved passwords, autofill, and multi-process security. This can be understood with the example of a Pinterest custom tab which will have a Pinterest share button embedded within it and it can include custom overflow menu options, thus it does not require the Pinterest developers to build their own web browser.
- USB Type-C for faster charging: Google has introduced the new USB standard in its Android M. With the introduction of this USB, now the smartphone can be charged faster and also used to charge other devices because with USB Type-C the connector can flip both the ways. So the introduction of this USB will definitely help the smartphone & Tablet manufacturers to introduce new handsets in the markets by combining Android M and USB Type-C.
- DOZE for better Battery Life: Though not much has been revealed yet; however it seems Android M will include a novel battery saving function known as ‘Doze’. The smartphone will have special motion sensors and these will detect if the smartphone is in use or no and accordingly go in the standby mode to save power. Suppose if this function is not put to use then developers might stick to sending the handset into a deeper standby state when not in use. Further, battery saver is turned off automatically when the handset is being charged. Also apps that require synchronization will not update automatically until it has been opened by the user, thus saving the power. On the whole reports confirm that the overall battery life of Android M has been doubled. Google had initially begun its longer battery life feature with Android L’s Project Volta and in this version it seems Android M has been successful in scoring a point over its predecessor.
- App Links: Earlier, when a web link was selected, Android would not know whether to show it in the web browser and some times it was a case that Android could not recognize which app would support that link. Hence, it was common phenomena with earlier Android versions, wherein the system would display the “open with” tab when users try to open any web link using some app. Usually the tab would ask the user whether they want to open a link with YouTube or with Chrome. However, with Android M, the OS has been incorporated with enormous awareness so that now it can directly open the link with the required app on Android. So now, if user wants to open some Twitter link through an email, Android will not stop users to ask if they want to open the link through Twitter and instead immediately open the link through Twitter. This happens within a spur of second and users will hardly notice this change, however Google has worked on this issue and improvised it.
- Other improvements: Various other minor improvements made in the Android M over Android L are covered here:
- App drawer: Android M introduces a new app drawer that scrolls vertical instead of earlier horizontal one. Further, the new version shows the four most recently used applications along a bar which is placed at the top and towards the left hand margin there is an alphabetized scroll available. Besides their is one more search function provided towards the upper right corner. So in all the new app drawer helps user to find their apps in better and much easier way. Further, the apps are placed on white background as against the homepage wallpaper which was seen in the earlier versions.
- RAM manager: With the Android M, Google has introduced RAM manager which will inform users regarding the average and maximum RAM usage of an app. Earlier Android L version gave detailed information regarding the amount of RAM by each and every app. RAM manager informs user of the RAM consumed by individual app along with the knowledge as to which all apps are running in the background. Thus it will help users to determine which app is consuming more of RAM and hence users can get rid of that app by removing it so as to increase the overall performance and battery life of the Android device. Whatmore, there is also a simple bar provided at the top which displays the current performance of the device and if it reads “good performance” then it is an indication that the device has an efficient set of apps.
- External storage allowed: With Android M, Google allows new storage feature wherein users can use SD card or USB drive and then format it to act like internal storage space. Thus helping users to move their personal data between the internal storage of the device as well on the adopted external storage source. Google has further provided a sheath of encryption to the external storage devices for security purposes and it will support microSD cards and USB OTG drives. The most important benefit here is that apps can be directly installed on the external storage devices now in Android M version.
- Improvised version of Google Now: Google has worked to improvise its Google Now feature and has made it is much more smarter by connecting it with Google’s Knowledge Graph which understands more than a billion entities right from sports team to places to gas station and even specific Television shows. In short Google Now has now been made aware of different contexts so as to provide the apt answer which can help user to take the correct required action.
- Now on Tap: Google Now is likely to roll out its pilot program “Now on Tap” which will contain 100 popular apps. With the introduction of this feature, Android M users can get into Google Now without exiting the current app. For instance, if a person is in music player and wants to know the musician, then they just need to ask “what is his real name?” and the Google Now will answer this query immediately while the user is still in the music player app.
- Google Photos app: Google Photos app was earlier a part of Google+; however now Google Photos app is standalone Photo and Video storage which provides free unlimited storage up to 16 MP photos and 1080 p videos that can be shared as well. With Android M, users can store compressed versions of their high quality photos and videos in the Google Photos Service which means that these huge files will not be stored on the user’s device thus helping users to scroll through unlimited photos at very high speed. One of the most important feature would be that user’s device is not ravaged with unnecessary gigabytes of the photos.
- Rolling out of Android M: For now the ‘Android M Developer Preview’ has been made available for Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player and the final version is expected to be launched somewhere in the third quarter of 2015.
With the Android Lollipop, Google had made drastic changes in its OS, however with Android M it seems Google has worked on performance enhancement and mostly made changes in those fields where users had the maximum issues while using Lollipop version.
There are many issues with the upgrade of Android 5.0 Lollipop by smartphone manufacturers. Some manufacturers are simply not upgrading to Lollipop while other who offer out of the box Lollipop devices are relatively new releases. Instead of focusing on releasing new version of Android, if Google had focussed on making Lollipop a widely accepted and used OS that would have been better for the users as well as developers and publishers.