Android - Now in Marshmallow Flavor!

Category: Mobile

Android v6.0, code-named “Marshmallow,” was released on October 5, 2015, and I think you're going to want it on your Android-powered smartphone or tablet. Here are the most significant new features in the latest edition of Google’s mobile operating system...

What's New in Android 6.0?

Marshmallow has arrived. Is it all a bunch of fluff, or is there something really good inside that candy wrapper? Let's take a look…

Google Now On Tap is touted as a “connective tissue” that permeates every part of the Android experience. Google Now On Tap provides contextual information for whatever is on your screen, drawing upon Google’s vast store of information about the real world. For instance, if a text message mentions a certain restaurant, Google Now On Tap will display cards showing the eatery’s location, reviews, hours, etc.

Better power management is built into Marshmallow to extend battery charge life. First, any time your device is unplugged, unmoving, and the screen is off, Marshmallow will put it into a sleep state that uses minimal power. Periodically, the device will wake to enable app syncing, notifications, etc., then go back to sleep. Marshmallow also identifies seldom-used apps and blocks their unnecessary background activities that drain battery power. Finally, you don't need a sketchy third-party app to manage battery life.

Android 6.0 - Marshmallow

Setting app permissions is easier under Marshmallow. Previously, an app requested all the permissions it would ever need the first time it was installed; many users were overwhelmed and confused. Now, each permission is requested the first time it is needed by the app. Users can see what the app is trying to do and decide if they wish to permit it, one thing at a time.

In my opinion, this is one of the most important new features of the Android OS. It's maddening when you download a new app, and for reasons unknown, it wants access to your files, contacts, text messages, camera, phone and GPS. Now YOU can decide what permissions your flashlight app can have.

Fingerprint biometric authentication is supported under Marshmallow. If your device has a fingerprint scanner, Marshmallow can handle Android Pay and Play Store payments, and even in-app purchases, without third-party authentication apps.

Hooray for USB-C!

USB Type-C support paves the way for adoption of USB-C charging and data transfer ports. USB-C connectors are reversible, solving the maddening problem of trying to plug a connector in the wrong way. USB-C also enables faster data transfers and a universal charger that will work with any USB-C device.

Why Marshmallow? Google has a code name for each major release of the Android operating system. The names are always tasty confections of some sort, and in alphabetical order. Preceding Marshmallow, there have been Lollipop, KitKat, Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich. Going further back, we've had Honeycomb, Gingerbread, Froyo, Eclair, Donut and Cupcake. The "B" and the "A" are matters of speculation, as they were never publicly released.

Marshmallow cleans up the mess that was Lollipop’s audio volume controls. Press your device’s volume button and up pops a simple slider control for adjusting the volume of notifications, alarms, or music. “Silent Mode” has been simplified, too; just turn the volume all the way down.

Lollipop’s complicated “Priority Notifications” subsystem has been renamed “Do Not Disturb” and highlighted as a standalone feature. You’ll find the DND option on pulldown menus in Airplane Mode and other options. Tap DND and you can set your device to “total silence,” “alarms only,” or “priority only” state for variable periods of time, or indefinitely. You can also create an exception so that if a given contact calls twice within 15 minutes, suggesting an urgent need to reach you, that call will be put through.

Selecting text is much easier and more precise in Marshmallow. Related functions such as copy and paste are now in a floating toolbar that stays near the selected text, not way up at the top of the screen. Sharing is a one-tap option that can send selected text to other apps or services on your device. If you install the Google Translate app, Marshmallow enables instant translation of any text selected in any app on your device.

Marshmallow also features improved backup-restore, app settings, direct sharing, voice command, and external storage support capabilities. It also includes improved Bluetooth Low Energy functionality, Hotspot 2.0 that supports 5 GHz WiFi, Bluetooh SAP, and full MIDI support.

Marshmallow upgrades are rolling out from Google to Nexus 5, 6, 7, and 9 devices now. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will ship with Marshmallow installed. For all other Android devices, it all depends on when (and whether) the manufacturer (Samsung, LG, HTC , Motorola, etc.) and the mobile service provider (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) get around to it. Generally, the newest phones get the latest Android OS first. You can check with your mobile provider to see if/when they're planning to update your model.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Android - Now in Marshmallow Flavor!"

Posted by:

13 Oct 2015

I have a Samsung S5 running Android 5.0. I also have a Sony RX100iv camera using a remote ap that currently doesn't support Android 6.0. How do I keep from updating to 6.0?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have Verizon, and they always present you with a choice to upgrade or not.

Posted by:

Charles James
13 Oct 2015

Is there an easy way to upgrade your mobile phone from a carrier such as ATT which doesn't even attempt to keep the latest compatible Android upgrades available to its customers? I have an LG Nitro that I have had for about four years and the last update provided for it by ATT was Android 4.1! I don't want to have to keep buying a new phone when the one that I have is perfectly capable of suppporting later versions of Android, but the process for trying to upgrade the phone by yourself is astoundingly difficult for most of us.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Unfortunately, no. If your carrier doesn't do it, the only alternative is the one you described as " astoundingly difficult."

Posted by:

13 Oct 2015

I need to check this with my friends but my understanding is that Android 1.0 was Alpha and Android 1.1 was Beta. Cupcake was 1.5 and it went on from there.

Posted by:

13 Oct 2015

Is MM for every smartphone, despite the original version of Android???

EDITOR'S NOTE: No, see my closing paragraph.

Posted by:

14 Oct 2015

The most interesting item, in this article Bob, was the mention of the USB Type-C connection!!!

This is really a BIG change in the USB history. It finally, looks like USB will be universal, with this connection. I am really glad, about that too!

For those who have different "flavors" of Smartphones, in your household, some have an Android, one or two have the iPhones and then, there is always the "oddball", who has a Windows phone -- Having a USB Type-C will be shear blessings, for the wall outlet!

I know, that it will take awhile, before USB Type-C will be available for both the PC or Mac or any Smartphone/Tablet, but, it looks as though it is beginning to emerge to the OEM's. It will take longer, to show up on the shelves of a retail store.

I have known for years, that not all cell phones can be upgraded to the newest OS. This has been no different, than upgrading your PC or Mac. First of all, you have to have the right components, to be able to upgrade. Same thing for the PC or Mac.

One of the main reasons are internal memory and what CPU the cell phone is using. Again, NO different than the PC or Mac. Every upgrade must have an adequate amount of memory and the speed of the CPU is just as important.

Can you imagine, taking an old PC with a Cyrix6x86-P120GP CPU, 16MB of EDO Memory Modules and a 1.3GB Hard Drive and trying to run Winodws 10 on it??? I don't think so and it is the same for cell phones.

By the way, that what was in my very first computer, that I got in Sept. 1996. I thought, I had the fastest machine, on the planet, too, at that time!!! OMG -- I almost forgot, I had the MWave-Modem component, which was the most gosh awful component, in the history of PCs!!! It was a combined Sound Card and Modem. Just ask anyone who ever had to deal with this puppy, you literally, wanted to pull your hair out, it was so bad.

Posted by:

Francis Reilly
14 Oct 2015

I haven't ventured into the world of "Smart" phones as yet but I am jealous of friends and acquaintances and thinking seriously of taking the plunge.Will this system be user friendly enough for and old guy,I'm 78,to be counted among the cognoscenti,without getting too perplexed?

Posted by:

14 Oct 2015

Francis Reilly; The Android operating system is not secure. Go for an Apple. Or Windoze phone. An Apple has trade in value. And will allow you to update the OS. Many Android device manufacturers will not allow you to upgrade/update the OS. Making them malware and hacking vulnerable. Windows phones update but have fewer apps. Do yourself a favor and do some research by visiting the phone manufacturers websites.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm not cheerleading for either side here, but one could just as easily say "The iOS operating system is not secure." They both have plenty of security flaws that are discovered on a regular basis. Both types have trade-in value, and can be updated.

Posted by:

Herb Klug
17 Oct 2015

Nice write-up on the new OS. It makes me want to get it. However, the path is not clear (to me). You stated in the opening paragraph this applied to smart phones and tablets, but the body of the article seemed to address only phones. My wife has a Samsung tablet (Android OS) for which she does not have a carrier: She uses the wifi from our cable modem (Internet provider is Brighthouse). All that being written, how can her tablet be upgraded? From the Google website? From the Samsung Website? Somewhere else?

Posted by:

18 Oct 2015

iS THis new os GOOD for tablets, or just Phones? mine an asus Transformer with Kit Kat. Can i force it to update, or do I have to wait for something?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, it's for phones and tablets. But unless you root your device, you'll have to wait for your carrier to update your OS.

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