The Developer Preview of Android Marshmallow is available now to owners of Nexus phones, with the final version launching on the new Nexus 5 and new Nexus 6 within the next few weeks. The OS will then become available to other Nexus devices, and within a few months to flagship phones and tablets. Don’t expect to get it on your device (unless it’s a Nexus) until late 2015/early 2016.
The latest reports come from Talk Android and suggest Google will unveil the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 on 29 September, with the phones available to pre-order from 13 October. By our reckoning, that means they will go on sale in early November, and Android 6.0 will then begin to roll out to other devices.
If you really want to get your hands on Android M now then you can download the Android M Developer Preview, but only if you have a Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 or Nexus Player.
Read: How to get Android M now.
Android Milkshake or Android Marshmallow? Android 5.2 or Android 6.0? What will the new Android be called?
After months of rumours and arguments in the office over the version number and name of the next Android, Google has finally ended the dispute by announcing that Android M will be Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
So Milkshake, Mars, Macadamia, Milky Way, Meringue, Milk Dud and other possibles are all out of the window. Also the 5:20 time in the demo mode of one of the developer previews indicating the version number being 5.2 is also incorrect. We also thought it would be 5.2 since there are no major updates.
Following Android Alpha and Android Beta, Google has always named its Android OS updates after sweet treats, and in alphabetical order. So far we’ve had Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat and Lollipop.
“Whether you like them straight out of the bag, roasted to a golden brown exterior with a molten center, or in fluff form, who doesn’t like marshmallows? We definitely like them! Since the launch of the M Developer Preview at Google I/O in May, we’ve enjoyed all of your participation and feedback. Today with the final Developer Preview update, we’re introducing the official Android 6.0 SDK and opening Google Play for publishing your apps that target the new API level 23 in Android Marshmallow,” said Google.
Android Marshmallow new features: What to expect from new Android M
Android M is an incremental upgrade and focuses largely on bug fixes. Google is concentrating on six areas with Android M: App Permissions, Web Experience, App Links, Mobile Payments, Fingerprint Support and Power & Charging. See also: Android M vs iOS 9 comparison.
A few of these categories are particularly interesting. In terms of power Google announced Doze, a new deeper-sleep state for devices running Android M that uses motion detection to learn when a device is not in use and puts them into a sort of ultra power-saving mode. You’ll still get important notifications, but Doze has the potential to bring up to two times longer battery life, as Google has shown to be the case with the Nexus 9 running Android M.
When the power finally runs out there will be Android M-wide support for USB Type C, or USB-C, which is a reversible-type connector that not only allows you to charge your phone or tablet three- to five times faster but you can use it to charge another device.
With Android M Google will also standardise support for fingerprint sensors. Not only will these be used to unlock and secure your phone, but they tie in nicely with the new Android Pay mobile payments system, which focuses on simplicity, security and choice. Android Pay is an open API, allowing devs to add it to their own apps.
App permissions are also changing in Android M. Rather than requesting your permission to use certain features at installation time, Android M apps will request permission for activities the first time it is required.
Many of the new features in Android are developer-focused improvements (as show in the below slide) that will make the whole experience smoother for Android users, although they may not necessarily be obvious changes.
Another new feature in Android M is Now on Tap, which is in essence Google Now but wherever you are on your phone.
But perhaps more exciting even than Android M is the new Google Photos, now offering unlimited storage for high-resolution photos that can be accessed and shared from anywhere – not just on Android.
See also: How to back up unlimited photos and videos using Google Photos
Android Marshmallow live video stream: How to watch Android M 6.0 live – Google I/O keynote live video stream
In June 2015 Google live-streamed its Android M Developer Preview launch, and you can watch the Android M announcement right here in our live video. Plus follow commentary from the event in our live blog below.
Android Marshmallow launch live blog and commentary – Watch new Android M launch live
Our reporters will be live at Google during the June I/O keynote, so also keep an eye on our Android M live blog for the details you won’t find in the Android M live video stream.
Android Marshmallow hype before the announcement
Android M was spotted in the wild months ago – even before Android Lollipop was announced there were reported sightings of Android M. Over on the Android Open Source Project developers were twice seen discussing Android M – firstly in regard to Logcat, and secondly in regard to a data interchange format. Neither will mean anything to end users, according to Myce, but can be useful to developers.
Soon after a report surfaced from Reuters suggesting that Android M would operate in and be built directly into cars, independently of a paired smartphone, with Google taking a much stronger focus on Android Auto..
Reports of Android M have been coming in ever since, and now there’s even talk of Android N.
The strongest evidence that we will see a new version of Android this year comes from Google software engineer Hiroshi Lockheimer, who told Fast Company that Google has adopted a “yearly cadence of big releases, so, for instance, one year we release J, the next year we release K, and then the year after that L, and then this year we’ll launch M, and so you can predict what will happen next year.”
In terms of new features, Google was expected to focus once again on performance and battery life. We’ve rounded up all the new features we’d like to see in Android M, including improved parental controls, more customisation, smarter gestures and an Android-standard ultra power saving mode.