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An overview of Android Marshmallow

Samsung has recently begun to offer the Android Marshmallow update for its Galaxy S6 devices. Marshmallow, whose name starts with an “M” in line with the previous naming scheme for Android releases, is version 6 of the Android operating system.

What has changed in Android Marshmallow?

First, Google Now has gotten beefier and more useful. With Now on Tap, Android users are able to hold their home button to access Google Now without having to leave whichever app they’re using. This is useful for quick queries for which users would otherwise have had to switch applications. Google Now also supports more context-aware commands, which will allow apps to integrate more effectively with voice commands to give users more control with their voice.

Marshmallow includes a new sleep state called Doze, which puts the device in a sleep mode when it’s not being actively used. In a world where phones are getting thinner and more powerful, battery-saving measures like Doze are critical. Marshmallow also reduces the battery impact of apps used less often to make sure battery is being used as efficiently as is possible.

Instead of asking for permissions upon installation, Android Marshmallow apps will now ask individually for permissions as they are needed. For some users, this might register as an annoyance; granting permission in a popup might disrupt an app’s workflow, but you’ll only need to do it once: after that, the app is granted permission until the user revokes the permission in the system settings.

Marshmallow supports fingerprint authentication for particularly high-security tasks like device unlock, Google Play purchases, and Android Pay purchases, as long as the device has the appropriate hardware.

Marshmallow supports native support for Bluetooth styluses, including support for stylus pressure sensitivity and stylus modifier buttons.

If users have the Google Translate app installed, selected text will have a “translate” option so users can translate text more quickly than ever before.

Marshmallow app developers will be able to tell the operating system which web links are relevant to users of the app. This means that if you tap on how to forward text messages to another phone without someone knowing a link in your web browser for a particular website, and you have the website’s corresponding app installed already, the app will be able to prompt you to open the content inside the native Android app instead. This is useful for app developers who favor their apps’ displays over their mobile websites.

With Hotspot 2.0, Marshmallow phones will be able to connect automatically to secure WiFi networks across the world without the hassle of selecting and trusting particular hotspots. This will be especially useful for travelers who don’t want to have to deal with manually connecting to new WiFi networks every time they find themselves in a new place. Portable hotspots in Marshmallow will also support 5GHz bands, which will give users more freedom in their spectrum usage in congested areas.

One particularly frustrating thing about Android devices for years has been the inability to install certain types of apps on external SD cards. Once your phone’s memory has been used up completely by apps like these, there’s not much you can do if you need to install new apps. With Marshmallow’s Flex Storage, this isn’t a problem anymore. Users will be able to configure external SD storage to act like internal memory, so that as far as apps are concerned, the external memory is internal storage.

Marshmallow also introduces support for hosting MIDI devices over USB and Bluetooth. The creative potential of Android device users has just shot up. Being able to connect a MIDI keyboard to an Android device means the Android device will be usable as a digital audio workstation, something that hasn’t been easy to accomplish in the past without MIDI.

Android Marshmallow is, as a whole, a worthy successor to Android Lollipop.