Android M rumors, features, release date, and all we know so far


UPDATE: Android M is now official! Check it out here.

In less than a week, San Francisco's Moscone Center will host Google's annual I/O developer conference – geeks from all around the world will gather to polish their coding skills and see Google's latest technologies in action. Needless to say, we'll be also keeping a close eye at the event as many of the announcements made there will be of great interest to us and our readers. To be more specific, Google is likely to preview a new version of its Android operating system. Major announcements regarding Android Wear, Android TV, and Android Auto, among other Google products and services, are being rumored as well.

So, what is the next major Android release going to bring? What is in stock for Android Wear? What else are we going to see at Google I/O this year? While we can't yet give definite answers to these questions, we can take a good look at the rumors that have accumulated so far and make a prediction or two, starting with...

Android M – a sweet new flavor


Traditionally, Google has been naming major Android versions after candy and pastries. Android 1.5, for example, was called Cupcake. Then came Donut, Eclair, Froyo, and so on, all the way to Lollipop. Since Android release names go in alphabetical order, it is safe to assume that the name of the next big Android release will begin with the letter M. According to speculations, it could be anything from Muffin or Marshmallow to Milky Way or M&M's, should Google choose to partner up with a well-known candy brand like it did for Android 4.4 KitKat. And as far as version number goes, we've seen references to "Android 5.2" in the past, but a jump straight to Android 6.0 is not out of the question either.

UPDATE: It is said that the upcoming Android release is internally codenamed Macadamia Nut Cookie. Its official name, however, is most likely to be different, hopefully one that rolls of the tongue more easily. 

Material Design – here to stay


In terms of features, Android M is shaping up as an evolutionary upgrade over Lollipop, not as a revolutionary one. That is, its focus could be on enhancing existing features instead of implementing a ton of new ones. Then there are the things likely to stay rather unchanged, such as the look and feel of Android's stock user interface. Minor tweaks here and there are sure to come, but as a whole, Android's UI is expected to be built on top of the Material Design principles instilled with Android 5.0 Lollipop. In other words, expect seeing more flat icons, shadows under objects, sliding transitions, and minimalist approach to graphics design in Android's next major version.

More ways to interact


Imagine if you could interact with Android apps using your voice. Well, if rumors are to be trusted, that might be a feature in Android M, allowing developers to add hands-free capabilities to their software. Now, bear in mind that details are scarce at this time, and this alleged hands-free capability could be just an advanced accessibility feature.

Another rumored Android M feature that we know little about is referred to as Nearby. In a nutshell, it is supposed to simplify the discovery of and communication with other Android users. Will this be Google's Answer to Airdrop in iOS? Well, your guess is as good as ours.

Furthermore, Android M is expected to bring changes to the UI's notifications and volume control system. Details are, again, little to non-existent, but we're secretly hoping for the plain ol' mute feature to make its return to Android. Not that we think Android's interruptions system is going to be retired, that is.

Performance and UI improvements


M won't really be a major Android release if it doesn't improve the platform's overall performance. Among the enhancements we're expecting to see are optimizations in RAM management – apps should be using less of the stuff. Furthermore, Android M is likely to improve on stand-by time by reducing app wake-ups and activity while the device is asleep.

The Android M user interface is rumored to introduce a couple of welcome features – native multi-window support and universal quick replies to incoming messages. The former, which allows apps to run side by side, has been available on some manufacturer UIs for quite a while, and we'll be happy to see it land on a broader range of Android devices. As for the latter, quick replies have been part of iOS since its 8th major release. If Android M's approach follows a similar principle, we'll be allowed to shoot quick text messages back straight from the notification panel.


Security and privacy enhancements


Not long ago, a certain well-known smartphone manufacturer put a fingerprint scanner on its flagship phone – a fingerprint scanner that actually wasn't frustrating to use and could substitute the user's lock screen PIN or password. Then all of a sudden, fingerprint scanners became an industry trend, appearing on more and more premium smartphones, including Android-based phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4, and Galaxy Alpha. Therefore, rumors suggesting that Android M will boast native support for fingerprint scanners make perfect sense as the feature is only going to grow in popularity. This should allow devs to integrate fingerprint authentication in their apps with ease, regardless of the device's make and model. Besides, logging in on multi-user devices with a scan of a fingerprint seems like a convenient solution. 

On a related note, Android M is expected to be the most enterprise-friendly version of the OS to date. The new release is rumored to bring "the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces [...] to workers at small business, deskless workers, logistics and warehousing jobs". From the looks of it, Google could be building on top of Android's ability to separate personal and work-related data, which was added with Lollipop. 

Speaking of security and privacy, rumor has it that Android M will allow users to edit app permissions. In other words, if you don't feel like allowing an app to, let's say, read your Google account information or to view your photo gallery, you should be able to disable the software's access to that data. 


Android Pay – more ways to spend your cash


Back in March, Google confirmed that it had been working on a new mobile payments framework called Android Pay. It shouldn't be seen as a whole new mobile payments system as, technically, it isn't going to be. Rather, Android Pay is developed to be a layer allowing devs and companies to easily integrate secure payment methods in their apps. At first, NFC will be the main communications medium used by Android Pay, and biometrics data should be supported at a later point in time.

A new Photos application 


From the looks of it, a new Photos application will be announced alongside Android M. Screenshots of the new app were obtained by Android Police and show off the software's functionality and UI. As before, users will be able to back up their images to the cloud, but the twist now is that images won't be tied with the user's Google+ account. Furthermore, Assistant is the name of a new feature in the Photos app. Its purpose is to let people easily create movies, stories, animation and collages out of their photos and videos. Take a look at the screenshots below to see the app in action.


Android Wear... on iOS?


Google's software platform for wearables, Android Wear, has been steadily evolving before our eyes. Its latest release added the much-needed support for Wi-Fi communication and tweaked the UI for a better experience. And at Google I/O, we might see what's in stock for Android Wear in the future. Rumor has it that Google wants to make its platform compatible with iOS devices, namely Apple's iPhone and iPad, as hard-to-believe as this may sound. But impossible this isn't, seeing that Android Wear smartwatches have been made to work with iOS hardware through unofficial means, no hacking required. In any case, Google is said to be "close to finishing the final technical details" that will let Android Wear users pair their smartwatches with iOS devices.


Android M release date – when is it going to launch?


While there's a high chance of seeing Android M demoed at Google I/O next week, we're not holding our breaths for a prompt release of the new version of the platform. It seems safe to expect an early build to be made available for download shortly after the conference, but an actually stable release meant for general use might take months to come. Lollipop, for example, was previewed in June of 2014, only to launch 5 months later. But in any case, one should expect Nexus and Google Play Edition devices to receive the Android M update first. Flagship smartphones and tablets by Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, and Motorola should come next in line. More information about the Android M launch date will be posted as we get it.

UPDATE: According to Android Police, Android M will introduce a new update policy for Nexus smartphones and tablets. They will be guarantee software updates and patches for two years after their release. 

UPDATE #2: While we're not sure whether Google I/O will bring a new Nexus device, be it a smartphone or tablet, it is rumored that LG might build one of the next Nexus-branded handsets. Given the lack of details, however, it is highly unlikely to see the device debut at Google's conference.

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56 Comments

1. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

release date should of just said "maybe in the next 5-6 months followed by other 6-8 months per device if you are lucky"

20. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Let's hope M isn't as terrible as lollipop

23. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Care to elaborate why Lollipop is terrible?

24. tedkord

Posts: 17414; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's not Apple. He's an Apple Evangelist, and he spreads his word by disseminating FUD about competing devices.

27. Mxyzptlk unregistered

You're wrong.

53. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I hope they put multi-window support in Android M.

26. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Memory leak and the poor battery battery for starters.

28. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Memory leak is on Nexus only. Battery is even better on Lollipop vs KitKat cause of Project Volta. Maybe some phones dont get good battery on LL but its a small margin.

44. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

Anything not apple to this guy is terrible. Biggest bulls**tter on pa easily besides the patriots but they are trolls. This guy is serious.

59. rubyonrails3

Posts: 375; Member since: Oct 01, 2014

Its terrible, especially 5.0 was, dialer sucks(the most important app on any phone/smartphone) there's a lot of delay. UI looks pretty but UX is not that great, No Silent mode. Made most of Kitkat phones slow. Speed of Kitkat can't be compare to Lollipop. smoothness is an other thing. it did add few useful stuff. but overall experience is far from great. Lollipop is pretty no doubt though.

33. Scott93274

Posts: 6040; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Yes, and let's be grateful that Lollipop isn't iOS8 or Windows.

21. hellbread

Posts: 309; Member since: Nov 21, 2014

True :-) I will get lollipop on Galaxy Alpha when android P gets out.

22. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Just go Nexus.

29. engineer-1701d unregistered

just go to google io 2015 as a search and it tells you everything that will be covered glass 2 virtual reality and many others

2. Dee79

Posts: 307; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Google needs to chill a bit, people have only just got lollipop, no need to keep updating to another os version every few months, it's ridiculous

3. ricardojcmc

Posts: 10; Member since: May 20, 2015

I don't get this, how is it bad? It's the OEMs' fault for not updating their devices in a timely manner.

9. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

Well by doing this only companies like cynagon if I'm correct gonna get advantage only disadvantage is for people who don't use high end devices with stock Android the others either don't get updated or get updated very late or lose performance after update.

54. Dee79

Posts: 307; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Exactly my point

4. CAMBODIANPATRIOT

Posts: 226; Member since: May 10, 2015

That's the beauty of Lagdroid. ;)

12. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Yet it performs better than iOS, so how would you call so beloved iOS?

14. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

Many including I don't believe it and i bet you can't prove it but IOS is definitely better than Android why cause you can do all the things with Android phones can with s**t hardware.

18. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Bah im not gonna start flame war cause of this retard, he already got served multiple times by other users too lol

30. engineer-1701d unregistered

you do know gs6 (android) is faster than ios and less buggy than ios right) or maybe you dont get news in the jungle

50. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

GS6 doesn't run stock Android and about been faster can you prove it?

52. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Here is Galaxy S5 on KitKat vs Nexus 6 on Lollipop, also keep in mind that Nexus 6 came about 5 months after Galaxy S5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPRN6p167nM

5. JakeH

Posts: 89; Member since: May 01, 2014

Apple would never allow Android Wear on IOS, i know that for sure

19. Nizar-ma

Posts: 7; Member since: Sep 02, 2012

i don't think they can do anything about it

25. tedkord

Posts: 17414; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Sure they can, they can block the app from the App Store. I'm b not saying they will, but they can easily.

6. CAMBODIANPATRIOT

Posts: 226; Member since: May 10, 2015

Wait a least 1 year later to come to Android devices. Nice! ;)

8. mixedfish

Posts: 1561; Member since: Nov 17, 2013

So my Galaxy S3 will get Android M next year? Thanks for confirmation!

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