Android 6.0 Marshmallow was finally made available for the public to download, and with it comes a host of new features. Although they’re not all visibly obvious, they’re welcome changes nonetheless. We’ve rounded up our ten favorite inclusions in this year’s new operating system.
1. App Drawer
Instead of swiping left or right through an endless number of pages full of apps, the new default app drawer scrolls up and down. They’re arranged alphabetically which makes finding them really easy, especially with the scroll bar on the side which quickly gets you to any particular letter.
2. App Suggestions and Search
This is sort-of tied to the app drawer, but deserves a special mention of its own. Android 6.0 can suggest apps right at the top of your app drawer based on what you use frequently, giving you the most likely options before you even go hunting. If the app you want isn’t in those suggestions, you can also search for apps using the search bar just above that.
3. Now on Tap
Google Now is getting better all the time, and with Marshmallow, it’s contextually aware regardless of which app you’re in. If you’re in messages, or an email, for instance you press and hold the ‘home’ button to bring up ‘Now on Tap’ and it gives you information and action suggestions based on what’s in your message. If there are locations, people, or venues on screen, Now on Tap can give you actions based on those. Whether that’s going to a website, social media page or running a Google search.
Doze in Marshmallow is some seriously smart battery management tech. Now, when your phone is in standby, it automatically drops its battery consumption to give you up to 30% more standby time. What that means in real life is that you can leave your phone off charge overnight, even if you have low battery, and it’ll still be able to wake you up in the morning.
5. App Standby
Another battery saving option: App Standby makes sure that none of the apps you rarely use have a disproportionate effect on your battery life by stopping them from running in the background when you’re not using them.
6. Do Not Disturb improvements
Do Not Disturb got a whole lot better with Marshmallow. First off, you can toggle it on or off just by dropping down the quick settings menu. You can also create rules for when it should be activated based on calendar events, or create a custom schedule. You can also change who can contact you in ‘Priority’ mode and change settings to allow phone calls to come through if the same number tries ringing three times within the space of 15 mins.
7. App Settings
Google has made controlling app settings much easier too. Go into Settings>apps and you can see and edit in-depth controls like notifications and permissions as well as being able to see how much battery any specific app has used since you last charged the phone.
Rather than give you blanket permission options when you download an app from the Play Store, Marshmallow asks you for your permission on an app-by-app basis, only as and when an app needs access to something. For instance, if an app wants access to your phone’s microphone, it’ll ask you when it needs to use the microphone, not when you download the app.
9. New Widgets View
Like the App Drawer, all the widgets are now collected and organized alphabetically in a vertical scrolling window.
10. Easter Egg (wild card)
It’s not important to the functionality of the new operating system and doesn’t make it obviously better, but it does give you a useful and fun way to stay distracted when you’re bored. Marshmallow’s Easter Egg is very much like Lollipop’s, just replace the Lollipops with Marshmallows. Based on the trend-setting Flappy Bird, the idea is to try to get your little Android Robot as far through each stage as you can without getting stuck. It’s impossible. My high score is 2.
If Android 6.0 Marshmallow hasn’t shown up as an over-the-air update for you, you can manually install the software using Google’s publicly available factory images. You can read our tutorial on how to do that here.