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Android M At Google I/O 2015: What We Know So Far

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Android Lollipop has not yet penetrated 10 percent of all Android devices, but Google is already expected to unveil the next iteration of its mobile platform at the upcoming Google I/O developers conference on May 28 and 29 in San Francisco, California.

Google is planning to dedicate an entire session to Android M, according to screenshots of the conference schedule, and it is planning on courting businesses with Android's next iteration.

The session description said: "Android M is bringing the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces."

Aside from that, Google is not saying much, or anything at all, about Android M, but that doesn't mean the rumor mill has not started churning. In fact, just a day ahead of Google I/O, there's plenty about Android M we have gathered from various reports. Although Google, being the unpredictable firm that it is, will likely have a number of surprises up its sleeve, we can expect to find at least some semblance of the following for Android M.

Design

It's likely we won't find major changes to the interface of Android M. It was Android Lollipop that introduced the major makeover with Material Design, after all. Still, we can expect Google to tackle its bright and bold new look at Google I/O as it brings more apps to Material Design and possibly introduce evolutionary refinements to the look of Android M.

Notifications

Notifications have received a major overhaul on Lollipop, but Google continues to work on notifications since they are most often complained about. With Android M, Google is rumored to bring tighter control over notifications so users only receive the notifications they need at the right time. We might see synced notifications across devices, so that users don't have to deal with one notification on their tablet when they've already dismissed it on their smartphone.

Security

With security a major concern in the workplace, it is only fitting that Google address this issue. Android M will reportedly allow users granular control over what information apps can retrieve, and it will be up to developers to create apps that still work even if some permissions are denied by users. In this regard, Android M will work more like iOS by allowing users to choose their permissions upon installation and change them from the app's Settings menu.

Additionally, we can expect an announcement about native fingerprint support. With the rise of Android devices with fingerprint scanners, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, it is only fitting for Google to include support for the hardware, now that it is likely other manufacturers will include fingerprint sensors in their devices in the future. Fingerprint authentication will reportedly take over the use of passwords in accessing apps and even in using Google Wallet and paying for items on the Google Play Store.

Battery

Battery has been a major issue with Lollipop, with users complaining about draining issues due to memory leaks. With Android M, it is expected that Google will work on using RAM in a smarter, more efficient way to avoid the unnecessary use of memory that leads to devices crashing and eating up too much power.

Voice

Google has been going big on using voice to access its own services, with Lollipop users now able to do more actions on their smartphones simply by talking to Google Now. Google plans on expanding the use of voice beyond the Google app possibly into third-party apps. Not a lot of details are available, but a description of the I/O session talks about "Your app, now available hands-free."

Connectivity

A feature called Nearby, which is already deployed for Chromecast in guest mode, is rumored to be in the works for Android M. Nearby basically allows Android devices to pick up on ultrasonic signals emitted by other devices (and possibly people and places) and communicate with them.

Android Wear

It is estimated that Apple has shipped one million units of its Apple Watch, more than the number of Android Wear devices sold in the past year, so it's only natural that Google figure out a way to bring Android Wear up to snuff. No word yet is available on how Google plans to do that, but Android M will likely bring improvements to the way it handles notifications and voice commands with Android Wear.

Software Updates

Google currently promises an 18-month period upon release of a device to provide updates and security patches before the device is left out in the cold. New rumors suggest Google is finally listening to its long-time customers and will be extending the update period to two years and the security patches period up to three years after purchase.

Macadamia Nut Cookie

That is what Google is calling Android M right now, with references to the name being dropped by developers all over the Android Open Source Program. However, Macadamia Nut Cookie is most likely an internal code name that will be changed once Google releases the full version of Android M, in the same way that Android Key Lime Pie became Android KitKat and Android Lemon Meringue Pie became Android Lollipop.

Just what sweet treat Android M will be named after is still the subject of speculation, although a number of guesses have been made. Marshmallow, M&Ms, Milky Way, Muffin, Marzipan, and Milkshake have all been suggested, but we won't know for sure until the Big G makes its announcement.

Photo: Austin Ziegler | Flickr

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