As sweet as a marshmallow

The newest version of Android has now officially arrived.

Meet Marshmallow.

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This is version 6.0 of Android and I can be sure to say that it’s my favorite. So  without any further ado, let’s dig in.

Since the user base in which Google’s Android operates is expanding rapidly, Marshmallow is a user interface for smartphones, tablets, watches, televisions, and cars, among others.

Google says that Marshmallow has a “back to basics” design with a focus on “polish and quality”. It comes with a pre-installed Google Launcher notable for its clean interface.

As clean as they come – Google Launcher

Many features that were being pushed for in the past have now been implemented with selected app permissions, a data backup system that actually works, and the ability to format SD cards as Ext4, allowing the system to treat cards just like internal storage. Marshmallow is also keeping an eye on the future with support for USB Type-C’s ,power delivery spec, a Fingerprint authentication API, and 4K display support.

Now that we’re done with the hardware part, let’s come down to the real stuff.

Marshmallow features a slick new search interface and a contextual search mode called “Google Now on Tap”. Till now, Google Now was like an personal assistant which gathered your important information and tasks ,through your Google Apps, on its own and then put them all in one place.
But the one thing that was restricting it was it’s lack of usability in other third party apps on the device. This is where “Now on Tap”  comes in.

“Now On Tap” scans the mail and provides the most relevant options.

Imagine a friend texts you asking if you wanted to watch this amazing movie he heard about. The name of the movie doesn’t ring any bells for you.
So normally, you’d go to Google, type in that movie’s name and then click on the relevant stuff you want to see. Not anymore.
With Now on Tap, you just need to call upon Google Now by long pressing the home button, and with a quick 2 seconds of scanning of your text screen, Google now gives you links to most relevant stuff about that movie including links to reviews,trailers,etc. If that movie is showing in a movie hall nearby, you’ll get a link to book the tickets directly from Google now. How cool is that,huh?

Another feature which seems promising is Doze.
Doze is Android Marshmallow’s new battery saving technology, which cuts down on background processes and checks for new notifications less often when your device is not in use.Doze starts working automatically in the background and there’s no separate setting to operate it manually.Google has promised big improvements on battery life with Doze and initial reports coming from it’s use show huge improvement on standby time with some reporting a drop of just 2-3% overnight. This will come in very handy for users who tend to work long hours and lose out of battery without even using it.

Doze works in the background to improve battery standby time.

Priority Mode,introduced last year, is now more user-friendly than it was in Lollipop. The “Do not disturb” button in Quick Settings gives you the option of  total silence, alarms only and priority only.This is a thing which in my opinion needs more refinement as the concept is right but I think the accessibility and complexity still needs some work.

Talking about quick taps,the volume control mechanism in Marshmallow has been much improved which ,safe to say,wasn’t at it’s best in 5.0.Just press the volume rocker of your phone and the onscreen audio controller will appear which can be extended to control all volume settings.

Other small yet notable changes include better text selection tool which highlights whole words at once so it’s easier to pick out the words and phrases you want. A new Direct Share feature brings up the apps and contacts you connect to most often whenever you tap the Share button.

To sum it up, the Marshmallow update is more about internal workings of the software rather than showcase stuff. In fact, for someone who doesn’t pay much attention, they might not even notice the difference between Marshmallow and Lollipop on their first look. Android 6.0 introduces a lot of small but very important things to the platform. A smoother,enhanced and more refined touches are given to ideas introduced in the previous version and user has received more freedom in terms of handling their overall experience. There’s a lot of great ideas that look fantastic in this release, and it’s only going to get better as more developers take these ideas a run with them.

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