Android 6.0 Marshmallow features

by: Edgar CervantesDecember 30, 2015
2K

android 6.0 marshmallow

It’s one of the biggest questions around here: “when is my phone getting Android 6.0 Marshmallow?”. We all want to have the latest and greatest Android software around, but we can often be guilty of not even knowing what these updates bring to the table.

In the Case of Marshmallow, the change was pretty significant when compared to Lollipop. Plenty of new features and capabilities have been introduced, and our goal is to tell you all about the hottest new goodies in this post. Shall we get started?

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0126See also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup – December 18, 2015137

New app drawer

This will probably be one of the most obvious changes to the UI you will find. The new app drawer dumps horizontal scrolling, which has been around since Jelly Bean first came into the picture. The new app drawer scrolls vertically, which does seem to speed up navigation and gets you to your apps quicker.

In addition, users can now grab the scroll bar on the right side and jump through letters to more easily find the apps you need. It goes right in line with other Google apps, such as the Contacts applications. Not to mention, plenty of other applications have implemented this new mechanic, which works like a charm.

Android Marshmallow App Drawer

And if you really just don’t feel like scrolling around at all, there is also a new app drawer search bar that will help you really get to specific apps in a jiffy. But you probably won’t need to use it much, as the first row holds your most used apps.

Slight change to the lock screen

The lock screen really is almost identical to the one in Lollipop. There is only one real change here. Instead of having dialer and camera shortcuts in the bottom corners, Google has opted to replace the dialer app with access to voice commands. I suppose Google believes voice commands are more important than actually calling people, and at this point they may not be wrong.

Nexus-9-Android-M-Lockscreen-1

Not much to see in the home screens

There really isn’t much to see around here. Well… yes, there are some changes, but these aren’t really exclusive to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. For starters, the Search bar on top and some icons will look more colorful, but the same applies to other devices, as these changes were implemented via Google Play Store updates.

Otherwise, this is just the stock Google Now Launcher experience you have experienced in the past. You can swipe all the way to the left to access Google Now, while other home screen pages will build up to the right.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0010

The notification area

I spend much of my phone time using the notification area. After all, this is where my main settings and all alerts go. Google has found a good way to keep this section organized, but they are always trying to improve things, even if by a bit. this means that there are definitely some changes in here.

You still have your two-step notification area process process. Swipe down once (with one finger) and you will be presented with your current notifications, which can then be expanded or accessed. Swipe down again (or swipe down with two fingers) and the Quick Settings menu will show up.

Android Marshmallow Quick Settings

By the way, that ‘dismiss all’ button might look a bit different. Google simply changed the way it’s facing. You know – for no real reason, really. Oh, and the priority notification settings that caused quite a stir in Lollipop has now been relegated to the Quick Settings.

android 6.0 marshmallowSee also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow – New features explained58

Google Now on Tap

This is one of the features Google focused most on when showcasing its new Android version. and for good reason, it is actually quite awesome. Have you ever been checking out a website reading about… I don’t know, a new Star Wars movie? Surely, you want to learn more about it, but it’s a hassle to access a new tab or launch another app just to perform a search.

Google Now on Tap makes Search a system-wide feature you can launch by simply long-pressing the home button. Doing this will present you with information relevant to whatever it is you are currently looking at.

google now on tap (3)

As it goes with plenty of other Google services, Now on Tap is a bit of a beta product. We hope to see it evolve soon, though. Once Google finishes polishing it, it will be much more helpful.

Doze Mode – more battery life, happier users

Don’t you hate it when your phone dies and you don’t even use it? And I mean that in the most literal sense possible. Some phones will lose plenty of juice while in standby mode. Doze Mode was introduced to help desperate users stay off their phones for longer, without having to recharge all the time.

What Doze Mode does is extend standby battery life by putting the phone in a deeper slumber during longer periods of inactivity. Reports say a Nexus 5 can last days, and even weeks, on a single charge. Of course, with no usage.

Google IO 2015 Dave Burke Doze 3

The only issue here is that Doze Mode requires long periods of inactivity in order to be engaged, something that will help very few of us. In addition, applications can bypass this feature if set to priority, and since developers are the ones who determine whether their app is important enough or not, chances are very few apps will be turned off in this mode.

Inactive apps will be put to sleep too

Google didn’t conform with putting the phone in a deeper sleep when the device is inactive. They went all the way down to the app level. One of the benefits of the Android OS is that it’s such a great multi-tasker, but it can also be a bad thing if you have a bunch of applications installed. To counteract this, Google has decided to take inactive apps and put them in a deeper sleep.

Native fingerprint support!

Not only do the new Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X integrate fingerprint readers – the whole system does! Google has released a fingerprint API that gives developers the power to tap into our phones’ biometric authentication.

What this means is that not only will these fingerprint readers be good for unlocking your device, any developer can use it to offer a secure connection with their users. Imagine once banks, social networks, email clients and other services integrate it. Say goodbye to passwords!

nexus 6p review aa (10 of 12)

Android Pay

By the way, Google’s own Android Pay is among the first to take advantage of fingerprint support. This app was introduced along with Marshmallow and allows you to pretty much do the same as Google Wallet and other contactless payment services. You can add your cards and make NFC payments at supported stores.

So, how is it better than Google Wallet? It is integrated to the very backbone of the system. It’s no longer just an app in the phone. The difference is that you don’t need to open an app to use it. Just unlock your phone and tap your way around!

android pay

Granular app permissions for the win!

Before, downloading an app meant having to succumb to accepting all the app permissions developers requested. Some of these seemed unreasonable and unnecessary. With Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can now download any app and select with permissions you allow it to access.

Having control over these settings is something plenty of power users have been requesting for a long time, and now we see it at full force with Android 6.0. For starters, one can easily go to the Settings app and see which apps can access certain permissions. You can then disable them selectively.

Google IO 2015 Dave Burke WhatsApp app permision

To avoid any potential conflicts, Google has a built-in system that feeds fake data to the app so it keeps on chugging along as expected. That means you won’t have to worry about older apps crashing when you disable permissions. Some functionality may stil break if you turn off the wrong permission, though. For example, you shouldn’t deny access to the camera on a camera app.

App Links

We all hate having to pick which app we want to open a link with, right? Surely, you know what I am talking about. Whenever you click on, say, a Facebook link, the system will pull up a box and ask whether you want to open it with a browser, the Facebook app or any other app that taps into the social network.

it gets annoying, so this is why Google is introducing App Links with Android 6.0. What this does is pretty much allow applications to take ownership of whatever links may belong to them. Of course, the box will still show up from time to time, but definitely not as often as before.

Android Marshmallow App Links

The simplified volume slider is back!

Was anyone else annoyed by the new volume slider controls in Lollipop? This “improved” system allowed you to tap into Priority Mode, in which only certain apps were allowed to send you alerts. Then there was a Do Not Disturb Mode, which silenced everything.This was cool, but it was too much to work with while on-the-go.

The volume controls in the notification area have been simplified again. Just lower the volume all the way and the phone will be put in Vibrate Mode, while one more move over will put you in Do Not Disturb Mode. Easy and clean. And you can still access that Priority Mode from the Quick Settings menu.

Android Marshmallow Volume Bar

Text selection gets a floating window

Text selection hasn’t been the best on Android, something plenty of us have been complaining about for years. Google aims to change this in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and I think they have gotten pretty far in their efforts of improving the experience.

When you highlight text, the system will now display a floating menu right next to the text, with 3 options included: Select All, Copy or Share. Simply edit your selection using the blue bubbles and tap on the action of choice.

Chrome Custom Tabs

Don’t we all hate those silly in-app browsers we see in apps like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest? I sure do, which is why I am glad Google introduces Chrome Custom Tabs, a feature not many are making much fanfare over, but will make a huge difference in in-app browsing.

Android Marshmallow Chrome Custom Tabs 3

In essence, all Chrome Custom tabs is allow developers to use Chrome as the base for their in-app browsers. They can be customized to their needs, but will have Chrome at the base of all the code. This means you can benefit from things like cookies, log-in history, auto-complete and more.

System UI Tuner

Tweaking the Android UI can be a bit complicated. We have plenty of options to choose from, but their are all buried in their little sections within the Settings app. This is why System UI Tuner proved to be a very helpful feature for those of us who like things a little different.

I like seeing the battery percentage in my status bar, for example. The System UI Tuner allows me to do this with a simple toggle. There’s plenty of other options to choose from, so go play around with it.

Android Marshmallow System UI Tuner

RAM memory manager

This one is a bit of a nifty feature for those of you who like keeping an eye on how much resources certain apps use. Google has added a whole new section in the ‘Memory” settings, in which the system shows you how much RAM memory apps have been using it. You can’t really do much else, but at least you will know if apps are going rogue and take the necessary actions.

Android Marshmallow Recent Apps

USB Type-C and USB 3.1 support

USB has its pros and cons right now, but it’s downsides are mostly due to how new the technology is. Truth is, USB Type C is the future. It allows for all kinds of interaction, such as charging, data transfer, accessory connections and more. All at faster speeds and stronger connections, thanks to USB 3.1.

Oh, and yes, it is reversible. No longer do you have to think about which side is up or down.

Other USB Type C articles:

usb-type-c-3

Delete those screenshots right away

Manufacturers have done something similar, but the stock Android experience hasn’t natively supported the ability to delete screenshots from the notification area. I believe I am not alone when I say plenty of my screenshots are no good, and it’s a hassle to have to go into Google Photos to delete it.

Now you can just go to your notification area and press the ‘Delete’ option. You are done!

The ultimate microSD support

It has been a roller coaster ride with Google when it comes to microSD support. Their main phones don’t even support them, and plenty of manufacturers are following suit with this. Overall, support has been coming and going.

It’s currently hard to find a phone with a microSD slot, but if you do have one, you are in for a treat. Android 6.0 Marshmallow supports what they call “adoptable storage”.

PNY microSD card

But what does that even mean? In a nutshell, you can insert a microSD card and format it to work with your device alone. This does mean it will no longer work with other devices, but the benefit here is that the storage will be treated as if it was internal. Apps and other content will be installed directly to the card. It will become an extension of your internal storage.

Grab a good deal on a microSD card!

Apps & settings backup

One of the biggest pains about getting a new phone, or factory resetting your current one, is that you have to spend hours setting up all your apps and settings again. Google kills that issue with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, after introducing the ability to backup most of the data in your phone to Google Drive.

This will include settings, WiFi passwords, apps, app data, game progress and more. Pretty freaking awesome, if you ask me!

Google Settings app is now in the actual Settings app

I always thought it was weird that the Google Settings app wasn’t in the… settings. But I am just a common citizen and Google knows better, right? Well, it turns out our concerns were not so wrong. The Google Settings app has been moved to the actual Settings app.

You can access the Google area in the settings to manage Android Pay, connected apps, Google Fit, Google Photos, Smart Lock for Passwords and more.

Direct Share

Direct Share is a new sharing feature enabled in Marshmallow. What it does is remembers who you share things with and in what apps you do your sharing. Over time, it will begin recommending people you can directly share to over the app you generally use to communicate with them. It’s a small thing, but it could save a lot of time if you always share to the same people.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0126See also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup – December 11, 2015137

What about Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow?

Yes, there is a new version of Android Marshmallow and it does come with some significant changes For starters, a bunch of new emojis have been added to the system. Tablet users are also enjoying a new button set-up, in which the back and home buttons are pushed to the left, while the recent apps button is on the right side.

In addition, one can now double press the power button to quickly access the camera. There’s also some Do Not Disturb Mode improvements in the form of an automatic way to unmute notifications after your alarm sounds off.

Other Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow content:

Wrapping up

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0001

Wow, that is a long list of features, right? The crazy thing is that there is more where all that came from. The Android Marshmallow code is full of tweaks and hidden (and not hidden) treasures ready to be uncovered. These are but our favorite new features.

But tell us, guys. Which of these are your total favorite additions to the Android operating system? What else would you like to see?

android 6.0 marshmallowSee also: Poll: how is Android 6.0 Marshmallow treating you?112
  • SonOfKrpton

    Can anyone tell me how their experience has been with the adoptable storage?
    It has been a huge point of contention for me, considering I have a 16 GB phone with a 64GB class 10 Micro SD card.

    • walletless

      Interested in knowing as well. Also, is there any way to “re-format” & unencrypt the card so it can be later used on another device?

    • josh

      Works well, the system blends the storage together and the apps can’t tell. You might run into some problems with certain configurations but overall it’s a great addition

      • SonOfKrpton

        Did you experience in any sort of lag (with some apps, I mean)?
        Did you experience any lag with your phone in general?

        Thanks!

  • Nibbler

    You mean you did write about these changes when marshmellow was announced? Or when they came out with the nexus 5x or 6p? slow day I know :(

    • Armaan Modi

      marshmallow*

      • MODICHAWALA

        FUCK YOU

  • Mayoo

    Now on tap is useless. Half the time it doesn’t understand what is shown and it removed the swipe up gesture for whatever reason since swipe up does NOTHING.

    I want swipe up back.

    • Kawshik Ahmed

      Disable ‘Now on Tap’ from Google Setting, ‘Swipe Up’ will be enabled after you disable it. Disable option is there from day 1.

      Actually when I think about it ‘Now on Tap’ doesn’t enable itself automatically you enabled your self when Google Now asked you do you want to enable it.

      • Mayoo

        Very true. But that doesn’t explain why they removed swipe up when it does absolutely nothing with Now on Tap

    • Armaan Modi

      Give it some time to improve,man!

  • Daggett Beaver

    It’s cool that in many ways, Stock Android is finally catching up with the successful OEM skin features.

    • balcobomber25

      A lot of these features were directly pulled from several popular Android UI’s, which is a good thing for everyone involved.

  • And where is the user requested DARK THEME? #GoogleFAIL

    Seems like a no brainer for OLED screen users, and people who want dark notifications & dark browsing & so on? Woops, simply not there.

    As for Apps drawer change and a few other ‘tweaks’, most of these are MINOR. I really wish selecting text was simpler, and typing is LIGHTYEARS easier on IOS (and waaaaay easier on BlackBerry), so Google has room to improve.

    • Armaan Modi

      how is it easier on iOS?

      • Typing works easier, text selection (esp cursor placement) is easier on IOS. Note – I’m Android now, not iPhone, but if we can’t point out where the phones are stronger bc we are too obsessed with defending our brand, objectivity will be zero.

        • Armaan Modi

          well…you are right but it sure wouldn’t have been good without custom keyboards.

    • Brandon

      I don’t know if this will help, but stock Android has an “Invert” feature built in, in the “Accessibility” menu.

      • I know this, but inverting all colors is not a dark theme. Any pics / images won’t look right.

    • balcobomber25

      Selecting text is incredibly easy…..

  • Jura

    Marshmallow with its advanced SD card support combines with the always awesome Nova Launcher will make for an awesome experience. Can’t wait! (Of course, since I have Verizon I probably won’t be seeing it until at least, say, 2019? /s)

    • Mail carrier

      I agree with the SD card support. However on VZ with the OG Nexus 6 I received my OTA update to 6.0 in the beginning of November, now on 6.0.1 this month. Marshmallow is going to get more common and real fast in 2016

      • Jura

        Well, that’s a Nexus, which is a bid selling point of the product line – fast updates. But I really hope you’re right, Verizon should be pushing out updates faster starting with Marshmallow, with better optimization and much smoother experience too. Here’s to hoping all of us Verizon customers without a Nexus can get Marshmallow in a timely fashion.

        • Mail carrier

          Battery life should improve while idle. My N6 will use about 1% an hour not messing with it and everything ready to go. Haven’t tried battery saver on 6.0 or 6.0.1(haven’t needed it). Past experience on 5.1.1 is almost zero drain w battery saver.

  • Kishore Venktesh

    So basically half of the features I already have on my OnePlus One thanks to CM12 on 5.0.1

    • thereasoner

      Some of these are already part of Samsungs TouchWiz as well. It’s great that both the Mod community and OEMs can contribute to the development of Android, it’s certainly a good thing for consumers who benefit from these features!

      • Kishore Venktesh

        That’s true… As long as the features are meaningful and add more functionality to the operating system and greater ease of access to the user, instead of unnecessary bloatware which ends up being a gimmick, I’m fine with the current progress.

        • thereasoner

          There’s a good article on phonearena about 15 TouchWiz features that benefit the user and they truly are useful. However, Samsung could do without the duplication of established apps including their own app store among others, that said, TouchWiz these days is much leaner than in the past and this latest version allows the user to delete or disable and hide the stuff they don’t want

    • balcobomber25

      These are available on a number of UI’s including CM, MIUI, Flyme, Touchwhiz etc.

  • Armaan Modi

    Introduction of the vertical app irritated me at first,but I think it makes sense as we have hundreds of applications and now we can access them with fewer swipes.I always used horizontal in Nova,but have now switched to vertical.

  • Armaan Modi

    Marshmallow is better than I thought.Now is Tap is great,we just need to wait for it to improve.Features like this are a reason why google is the top “search engine”.

  • Great wrapup.

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    Wh’t about Android 6.1 due in March 2016? And than dark-mode along with it

  • Bravo Alpha

    When is this coming to AT&T Note 5??

  • Kunal Narang

    Two words, “Thank you!”

  • bob

    Android, welcome to 2010

  • Brandon

    The app drawer was not a new Marshmallow feature(at least not to stock Android), they rolled it out in the later Lollipop updates, probably something only a Nexus user would know.

  • balcobomber25

    After using MIUI and Flyme for so long I actually prefer the no app drawer experience and instead having apps separated into folders, like Apple does. Makes it a lot easier to find what you want. We have already started to see more and more phones drop SD card support as more are pushing towards a cloud platform especially with LTE being widespread now, but the SD upgrades are interesting to 6.0.

  • daekrebs

    Oh really scrolling up and down is quicker than left to right? That is rediculous. Same amount of effort and speed…all depends on preferences. It does improve anything…just changes.

  • ROB

    Doze has me keeping my N5 for another year…

    • John Kiser

      The Nexus 5 on marshmallow got speedier than it was on Lollipop

  • It’s a tick to lollipop’s tock… or something.

  • 404

    Does it have a “clear all” function for recent apps?

    • Berkay

      Nope.

  • Reap

    Been waiting for the Granular app permissions for ages! Finally it’s here and I can’t wait. Backup of game progress and microSD support are also great new features. Looking forward to try Marshmallow IRL it sounds like one of the best versions yet (on paper).

  • An Droid

    LG, HTC and Samsung update schedule for Marshmallow attached

  • Atharva Mithe

    The Fingerprint feature will be awesome in my Oneplus 2. AND I love that Google has added all the features that i and we always thought 💭 of. And now with marshmallow we all will have them. Thanks Google and Android Authority for this clear and informative explanation. 👍👍👍😎

  • Virgil Peiulescu

    I seems to me the most important festures are:
    Now on Tap, Doze, RAM Manager and adptable storage.