Google announces Android M developer preview
Google I/O is underway, with the day-one keynote streaming now. After getting us started with some of the usual platform stats, Google’s not wasting any time getting into the new stuff, and is jumping right in to the Android M developer preview, promising to share six key areas where we’ll find improvements over existing releases.
First up: app permissions (just as rumored). The new approach is multi-tiered, simplifying permission types while moving the approval process away from installation, and instead having apps ask you the first time you go to use these features. You’ll also be able to pull up app settings after the fact and revoke or restore individual permissions as desired.
These changes will only be available going forward, for new apps built with the latest SDK; old apps will use classic permissions until they’re updated.
Next we’ve got Chrome Custom Tabs, a system that lets devs integrate web content into their apps while maintaining control over browser look and feel. With pre-fetch support, it’s designed to load content swiftly.
We’ll also see improved support for opening links with apps, as Google implements a method that lets apps “own” certain kinds of URLs and automatically open them directly, rather than sending users to a browser. In a demo, Google shows how a Twitter link sent in email can open right through to the Twitter app.
Rumors had suggested I/O would bring big news about mobile payments on Android, and Google’s confirming just that, with the introduction of Android Pay. One of the notable improvements over Wallet as we know it will be the ability to conduct NFC-based transactions without needing to manually open the Wallet app first.
Devs will be able to add Android Pay support directly into their apps.
Segueing from mobile payments, Google confirms the system-level support for fingerprint scanning hardware that had been rumored. When using a phone with the required hardware, you’ll be able to use your fingerprint to authorize Android Pay transactions, unlock your phone, or perform any matter of in-app authorization.
That makes five areas of improvement so far, leaving number six: power and charging. Devices will be able to detect when they’re inactive for extended periods of time, and conserve power by dropping into an even lower-power hibernation mode, with fewer background syncs. Depending on software demands, the improvements can up to double battery life.
We’ll also be seeing new ways for phones to get power, with support for USB type-C connectors. That will open news avenues not just for charging, but also sharing power, letting Android phones power other devices.
With all the big stuff out of the way, Google’s going on to share some other changes we can look forward to in Android M. Text selection will make it easier to highlight whole words, and copy/paste tools should be more convenient to get at. The system content sharing interface will learn the methods you use the most and the people you most often share things with, and offer them as convenient defaults.
Hated Android Lollipop volume changes? Android M intends to make things right, simplifying controls while also giving you direct control over different audio sources.
The Android M developer preview is being made available for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and even the Nexus Player.