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Google tightens its OEM requirements for new Marshmallow devices

Google's Android 6.0 Marshmallow Compatibility Definition Document places new mandatory requirements on OEMs regarding Doze mode and encryption features.

Published onOctober 20, 2015

Android 6 Marshmallow raining crop

Android 6.0 Marshmallow comes with a number of useful and perhaps even exciting new features, but OEMs are sometimes a little picky about which features they implement or tweak when it comes to building their own versions for their new smartphones. Google doesn’t want OEMs to mess without a couple of important Marshmallow features though. The Android 6.0 Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) states that Marshmallow phones must include Doze mode and Full Disk Encryption.

Doze, in case you missed it, aims to improve the standby battery life of Marshmallow smartphones by taking greater control over when apps wake up from sleep. The CDD states that the power saving mode must not be altered from the AOSP and that all apps that don’t use the feature must be visible to the user.

If OEMs attempt to remove, alter or even improve this feature, they would lose Google certification for their product, so manufacturers are going to have to play ball here. Here’s exactly what Google has to say about it.

8.3. Power-Saving Modes
All apps exempted from App Standby and/or Doze mode MUST be made visible to the end user. Further, the triggering, maintenance, wakeup algorithms and the use of Global system settings of these power-saving modes MUST not deviate from the Android Open Source Project.

Further down in section 9 of the CDD you’ll find a part about disk encryption, which requires certain devices to support encryption of the user data and sdcard partitions. Google had previously planned to make device encryption compulsory with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but seems to have manage to find a compromise with Marshmallow. Here’s the extract from the latest document.

9.9 Full-Disk Encryption
For device implementations supporting full-disk encryption and with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) crypto performance above 50MiB/sec, the full-disk encryption MUST be enabled by default at the time the user has completed the out-of-box setup experience. If a device implementation is already launched on an earlier Android version with full-disk encryption disabled by default, such a device cannot meet the requirement through a system software update and thus MAY be exempted.

However, devices which don’t meet these AES crypto performance requirements won’t have to comply with these rules and neither will devices that don’t have lock screens, such as smartwatches. Importantly, this works as an exemption for older smartphones and tablets that are updated to Marshmallow too, so only new devices will have to support the feature.

So there you have it, new Marshmallow powered smartphones and tablets must be compatible with the OS’ power saving and encryption features. This should result in a longer battery life and additional security protection for most, but unfortunately not all Marshmallow users. If you like, you can check out the full compatibility document in the source link below.

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