There’s been a lot of buzz about Android Marshmallow since it was announced last year. But what do we actually know about the update?
Here we take a look at its key features and tell you when you can expect to get it on your phone.
What is Android Marshmallow?
If you’ve not got an iPhone or an iPad then you’re likely to be running Android – the Google-designed operating system (OS) that runs on smartphones and tablets.
It powers more than 1 billion phones and tablets, according to Google, and phones from Samsung, Sony, Motorola and HTC all run Android.
Marshmallow is the latest version, replacing Lollipop 5.0 that’s currently in use.
What can you do with Android Marshmallow?
Marshmallow is an update, rather than an overhaul like we saw between KitKat and Lollipop – but it still brings lots of useful new features to your device.
Get the information you want
Want an effortless way to find useful information when you’re in a web browser or using an app – without having to trawl through Google?
Let Google Now on Tap do the legwork for you by scanning your screen for any keywords, and bring up relevant results from around the web. Some of the ways you can use it include:
- If you’re listening to album in Google Play Music, simply ask Google for more information about the artist or song currently playing
- Watching sport – use it when checking the score for more info like league tables and player profiles
- Or if you’re making dinner plans with friends, search maps for local restaurants and load up reviews before deciding where to go
Tip: to launch Google Now on Tap, press down on the home button.
Manage your apps
It’s easier to manage your apps thanks to the updated display on Marshmallow – which lets you see the amount of storage and RAM each one is using.
The redesigned App Drawer makes it easier to navigate through the different apps on your phone. It’s a vertical list, rather than the horizontal one you got on Lollipop – scroll through it or use the alphabet sidebar to find the app you want to use.
There’s also a search bar or you can use voice search to quickly find and launch apps.
And for greater peace of mind, the first time you open an app you’ll have the option to grant permissions like whether your apps can access you camera or location data. You can also check these later on in your Settings.
With Marshmallow you can unlock your phone and log into apps using your fingerprint – getting rid of the need for passwords altogether. Most newer Android phones have fingerprint technology available.
In the US this is also being used to enable Android Pay, which lets you pay for the things you buy with your smartphone – although right now it’s not available in the UK.
Want to use your phone as a digital wallet? Follow our guide
More intelligent battery life
One of the biggest bug-bears of smartphones is battery life – or lack thereof. That’s why Android has introduced a couple of handy features to maximise your phone’s charge on Marshmallow.
The first of these, Doze, can recognise when you’re not using your phone and effectively put it to sleep – great if you forget to plug your phone in overnight.
Doze stops your phone from running anything in the background that isn’t essential, like syncs or updates, until you pick it up and start using it again.
App standby works in a similar way to detect the apps you don’t often use and temporarily disable them. Although you’ve got the option to stop this for apps you want to keep running.
Other cool new features of Marshmallow include:
- Smoother browsing within apps thanks to Chrome integration
- Android Device Manager that lets you remotely lock your phone if it’s lost or stolen
- Easier to copy and paste – simply highlight the text you want to copy for a list of options, rather than having to select them from the top of the screen
- Futureproofed as it supports USB Type-C – the cable is reversible so you can use either end to charge, as well charging your phone faster
When can you get it?
This is where it gets complicated. It all depends on what phone you have and whereabouts you live in the world – since September Marshmallow has started to roll out to selected phones.
Nexus 5X and 6P were the first phones to get the upgrade, and it’s now available on some of Sony’s Xperia devices. You can see the full list here.
Samsung announced plans to start updating the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, with other devices to follow. While HTC has also confirmed the One M9 will be getting the update soon.
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