There's no official word on when Android M will be officially revealed, but the 2015 Google I/O conference schedule hints at a number of features users can expect from the newest iteration of the Android operating system.
Set for May 28 and 29, the Google I/O conference will be held in San Francisco at the Moscone West Convention Center. There, Google will be bringing together developers to showcase product and platform innovations the company has been working on, potentially including Android M.
What can be expected of Android M?
First, there's "Voice Access." As its name implies, the feature will be adding a voice component toward accessing apps, a likely support for Android M services offering hands-free convenience. Other details about the talk are not detailed in the I/O schedule but it is described as "Your app, now available hands-free," making it obvious that voice actions may soon be in the picture for Android users.
Then, there's "Nearby." Rumors about the effort have been swirling since last year, but the basic idea behind it is that Android devices will be given the ability to communicate with other devices and people and places that are, well, nearby. This kind of functionality is already seen in Chromecast's guest mode and Nearby has been spotted a few times in Play Services, but nothing concrete has been revealed about the feature. The I/O schedule confirms at least that Nearby is very much real as the speakers for the talk on proximity-based communication are Andrew Bunner and Akshay Kannan, the engineering lead and product manager, respectively, the effort.
Material Design has always been a hot topic at Google, so several sessions at the I/O conference have been dedicated to it. One of the talks was even aptly named "Bringing Material Design to Life on Android," taking away any confusion of what will be discussed.
To address privacy concerns, Google is reportedly giving users more control over what apps have access to, like location, contacts and photos. Currently, Android informs users as to what information an app requires access to before starting an installation. If a user is not comfortable allowing so many permissions for an app, they can cancel an installation. With the new settings, users don't have to deal with all-or-nothing situations as they can choose separate permissions that can be granted to an app.
Android is enjoying an 81 percent share in the global market for smartphones, while iOS represents just 15 percent.
Photo: Tsahi Levent-Levi | Flickr