Android M: all 55 new features explained (full changelog)

The Android M Developer Preview is now available for download for devs to start optimizing their apps to make them fully ready for launch when Android M launches on retail devices at the end of Q3 2015, and while we're all busy flashing the build to our Nexus devices, we noticed Google gives a very detailed break-down of all the new features in Android M.

Apart from the 6 key improvements in Android M - app permissions, web experience, app links, mobile payments, fingerprint support, and power and charging - there is a lot of interesting stuff that Google just couldn't show at the event, or it would have become a marathon for the viewers.

This, however, shouldn't stop us from looking and trying to decipher all the novelty in Android M starting with what Google itself has highlighted as important new features. We counted a total of 55 new features, and we plan on trying to understand each one of them, starting with the most important ones. Let's go.

Major new Android M features

#1: Easy word selection and floating clipboard toolbar

"Finally," someone in the crowd at Google I/O shouted when software head David Burke announced that Android M brings improved word selection and a new clipboard toolbar. Currently, you have a bar of obscure icons at the top when selecting text and that is changing to a floating window that appears alongside your selection (a much more logical place) and features clear and concise buttons rather than obscure icons: 'cut', 'copy', and 'paste' is what the buttons say. Word selection is now also improved as you can select jumping word by word, or character by character.

#2: Fingerprint sensor support

Finally, Google is building a standard API for fingerprint support that - it seems - apps can make use of, and it will be a unified way for phone manufacturers to encode support for fingerprint scanners, knowing that they are compatible with the new Android Pay NFC-based system.

#3: Direct Share

Sharing on Android is by far the best of any mobile operating system, but it's still far from perfect. When you have a bunch of apps installed, you end up with a huge list of sharing options that is extremely frustrating to operate. Direct Share in Android M fixes that by prioritizing and putting first the options that you use the most and that are the most logical for that particular item.

#4: Doze

Doze is a deeper state of sleep, especially useful for Android devices like tablets that spend a lot of time laying idle on a night stand, only to be picked up at night. By hybernating apps and allowing only for alarms and priority notifications to stay awake, Android M brings significant improvements to standby battery life, extending it up to twice on a Nexus 9 unit that Google tested.

#5: Simplified volume controls

If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Google, however, did try to fix the non-broken volume controls in KitKat, and that resulted in an outcry from users frustrated with volume controls in Android 5 Lollipop. So, it was time to fix what has been fixed: volume controls are now again granular, with separate control for ringer volume, alarm volume, and media volume. Finally!

#6: Google Now 'On Tap'

Google Now is getting contextually aware in Android M. What does that mean? With the new Google Now 'On Tap' feature, your voice searches will be recognized contextually within an app. Say, you have the music player on, you can fire up voice search and ask something like "what year was this recorded?", and the search will understand that 'this' refers to the song. Neat!

#7: Auto backup for apps (link to Android developers)

The Android system in M will automatically make a full data backup and restore for apps. This is something that is done for apps targeting M by default, with no need for developers to code in anything. If users delete their Google accounts, their backup data is deleted as well. Automatic backups happen every 24 hours, when the device is idle, charging, AND connected to a Wi-Fi network. This way, when you upgrade to a new device, or wipe clean a device, you can restore easily and pain-free.

#8: Contextual assist framework
#9: Secure token storage APIs
#10: Setup wizard: IMAP sign-in
#11: App Standby
#12: Flex storage

Important new Android M features

  1. Data Usage API for work profiles
  2. Bluetooth SAP
  3. Voice interaction service
  4. App link verification
  5. Text selection actions
  6. Unified app settings view
  7. Corporate owned single use device support
  8. Improved trusted face reliability
  9. New runtime permissions
  10. Google Now Launcher app suggestions
  11. 5GHz portable Wi-Fi hotspot
  12. Seven additional languages

Less important new Android M features

  1. Work contacts in personal contexts
  2. Hotspot 2.0
  3. VPN apps in settings
  4. Duplex Printing
  5. Seamless certificate installation for Enterprise
  6. Undo/Redo keyboard shortcuts
  7. Do Not Disturb automatic rules
  8. Material design support library
  9. Android Pay
  10. USB Type C charging
  11. Battery historian v2
  12. BT 4.2
  13. Improved bluetooth low-energy scanning
  14. Improved text hyphenation & justification
  15. Improved diagnostics in systrace
  16. IT admin acceptance of OTAs
  17. Chrome custom tabs
  18. UI Toolkit
  19. Enterprise factory reset protection
  20. Do not disturb quick settings and repeat caller prioritization
  21. Improved text layout performance
  22. Alphabetic app list with search
  23. Stylus support
  24. UI toolkit performance improvements
  25. Unified Google settings and device settings
  26. Work status notifications
  27. MIDI support
  28. Bluetooth connectivity for device provisioning
  29. Power improvements in Wi-Fi scanning
  30. Data binding support library Beta
  31. Delegated certificate installation

We will be updating this list with explanations as we learn more about each of the new features, so do stay tuned, and don't hesitate to let us know your thoughts about this new Android M update in the comments below.



1. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

Very cool and YAWN at the same time. It was an important event today, but also boring and lame.

19. mmmanuuu

Posts: 403; Member since: Nov 05, 2013

Settings menu and notification submenu looks like xperia lollipop UI. What is JONY IVE, chief designer of apple doing in his contacts list ? Check picture 9

20. Donotnameme

Posts: 47; Member since: Jul 01, 2014

I'd wonder more about what Luke Skywalker and Giant Squid are doing in his contacts list

2. IgorEfremenko

Posts: 109; Member since: Nov 30, 2011

New app drawer is ugly :/

6. SamDH1

Posts: 419; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

Luckily you can download Nova or anything else instead. Who uses Google Now launcher anyway?

8. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I've used Nova for like 3 years. Apex for a year before that. People put up with weird stuff that they could easily optimize for a better experience but don't. Why even choose Android if you don't tailor it?

13. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

Why don't they get rid of App Drawer....???

21. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Why would you get rid of the app drawer?

23. justrt

Posts: 446; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

Again, you can download a Mi Launcher - no drawer there... or get Hola Launcher - the "drawer" there is not really a drawer. All your apps are on the main screen and when you click on the "all apps" icon, it shows them to you in alphabetical order.

3. waddup121 unregistered

this is nice!

4. amcasper unregistered

A lot of the "Less Important Features" seem pretty important. haha

7. SamDH1

Posts: 419; Member since: Apr 21, 2015

I thought this :P Like the C connector, Pay, fingerprint etc...

5. baldilocks

Posts: 1549; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Thank goodness for Nova Launcher.

9. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

So pumped for USB 3.1 type C. That'll be huge for it's adoption.

10. plck74

Posts: 65; Member since: Dec 12, 2013


11. Gothbeard

Posts: 54; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

Total meh.

12. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Flex storage? Will we be rid of the "out of space" for apps issue?

14. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

The app drawer sucks. Terribly.

15. Youraveragejoe

Posts: 134; Member since: Oct 31, 2014

Now is the time for custom roms.. Stock really sucks.. Google seems confused about how it wants android to look and feel.. Imo kitkat was the best update for android

16. kobainez

Posts: 454; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

#4: Doze Doze is a deeper state of sleep, especially useful for Android devices like tablets that spend a lot of time laying idle on a night stand, only to be picked up at night. By hybernating apps and allowing only for alarms and priority notifications to stay awake, Android M brings significant improvements to standby battery life, extending it up to twice on a Nexus 9 unit that Google tested. #sonystaminamode

17. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

The less important ones seem much more important than the important ones in my opinion.

18. gaara6775

Posts: 738; Member since: May 20, 2014

So the new app drawer is similar to that of htc's ? Makes sense. But it looks uglyyyyy.

22. avishekmukherjee

Posts: 362; Member since: Apr 09, 2015

very cool :-)

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