It is no longer news that Google has decided that Marshmallow would be the name of the 13th iteration of the Android operating system. According to Google, Marshmallow will make its full debut later this year, hopefully in September, when it is rolled out in the latest Nexus devices.
It is now eight years since Google rolled out the first android operating system. Though Google usually name each successive upgrade alphabetically with the name of a popular confectionery, the first two versions actually had no named confectionery attached to them. It was in the third version, cupcake, that this popular nomenclature started.
In just eight years, Google has gone through half of the alphabets in the English lexicon, what happens when they get to Android Z? If recent developments are anything to draw conclusions from, Google would exhaust the alphabet in about 13 years if they go by the ritual of announcing a new upgrade annually. Remember, android 5.0 also known as the lollipop was unveiled just last year at the Google I/O conference, June 25th to be precise.
So what can the next generation of smartphones and other mobile gadgets expect from the Marshmallow? Let’s take a look at some of the upgrades which is another way of comparing the Marshmallow with its immediate predecessor, the lollipop.
First of all, to improve security Google has introduced a fingerprint scanner support for the operating system. Which means mobile phones with the Marshmallow can now be unlocked with the fingerprint scanner feature if it is activated in the settings. It seems fingerprint is the in-thing these days with the rash of gadgets OEMs are rolling out with this feature.
Another new feature can be found in the voice-mail. With the Marshmallow, visual voicemail can be accessible directly from the phone dialler with its own visual interface rather than the audio-based setup in previous versions of Android. But this works only if your network provider supports it. So it might take a while before this gains any traction.
Again, you can now use your phone in the landscape format in both the apps and on the home screen. Formally, screen rotation was only restricted to apps and some menu items while the home screen could only be used in the portrait format. I wonder why something as simple and basic as this took such a long time to feature in the Android phones.
It seems Google is trying to get more people interested in how their mobile devices utilize the device memory. Now, in the settings menu, the memory section is prominently located in the front and center. The prominence obviously means more people can now start to learn a thing or two about RAM management in android devices which I think is a good thing. Expanding the knowledge base of the world can never be undervalued.
I kind of like this next one a lot. For someone like me who enjoys fiddling with the network settings of my phone, a network settings reset option is simply a life saver. So instead of having to do a factory reset of the whole device, because you are confused about how to reset one of your numerous Internet setting tweaks, you can simply reset the whole thing to get back your virgin data settings. This also works for Bluetooth and WiFi.
Another interesting update is a new feature known as Android Pay, this is a mobile payment solution that allows people to use their existing credit cards to make payment for products in over 700,000 stores in the US by using the app in your mobile phone. ‘Ebaying’ just got easier I hope.
For a full review of all the new features, read this comprehensive piece. But like everything else, we can only really grade the Marshmallow only after actually using it extensively.