(Source: Gizmodo)
Marshmallow? Milkshake? Muffin? Google's lips are sealed, but at least we know what features are onboard

All eyes were on Google Inc. (GOOG) this afternoon as it kicked of its 2015 I/O Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif.  As usual the focus of the developer-minde conference is on Google's Android operating system (OS), the world's most used mobile OS.  Google let slip in an overly descriptive calendar posting that it would be discussing the next major build of Android -- codenamed Android 'M' -- today.

Indeed, Android VP Sundar Pichai was on hand to highlight Google's vision for the update.  In his session he said that the focus of Android 'M' is "on polish and quality", especially in develop better flexible, yet consistent policies with regard to third party apps.

Major highlights include:


App Permissions Dashboard
  • For developers this means potentially less scrutiny when asking for a lot of permissions, and quicker approval when you need to approve permissions.
  • For customers this is a major shift as it means you can deny apps permissions that seem inappropriate.  If Angry Birds, for example, wants to access your contacts list (likely for data mining to deliver targeted advertising) you can disable that privilege and like magic your privacy is preserved.
  • For developers the only real downside is that if you achieve the sort of monolithic hit app that benefits from a dedicated data mining scheme and targeted ads, you may find your targeting capacity eroding with time as users wise up to blocking intrusive data mining requests.

Custom Chrome Tabs API
  • Apps can now effectively adopt a Chrome wrapper that gives them access to certain features
  • Examples of benefits include:
    • Multi-process security
    • Autofill suggestions
    • Secure password caching

Direct App Linking
  • One app can now open directly to another.
  • This offers the potential for developers to put menu options that directly choose a preferred app, skipping the "open with" dialogue that previous versions of apps used to transition between apps.
  • There's also now automatic checks, available for one app to use to check a certain action for compatibility in a partner app, e.g one app can check whether a partner app knows how to open a certain file type.

Android Pay
  • Driven by technology acquired from recently purchased digital payments startup Softcard, this is essentially Google's replacement to Google Wallet.
  • Payment is carried out via secure tokens delivered over NFC.
  • Your card number is never shared, so in effect this improves your security and can prevent credit card fraud in the event of data breaches at a retailer you frequent.
  • Most cards are supported, including cards from:
    • Visa Inc. (V)
    • American Express Comp. (AMX)
    • Discover Financial Services (DFS)
    • MasterCard Inc. (MA)
  • For authentication, on compatible devices, Google Pay will support various kinds of biometric fingerprint sensors.
Android M Biometrics
  • To use it you unlock your device and wave it near a terminal at one of 700,000 stores or vending machines who have initially committed to supporting it.

    Examples include:
    • Stores:
      • Macy's, Inc. (M)
      • Bloomingdale's, Inc.
      • The Sports Authority, Inc.
      • Best Buy Comp. Inc. (BBY)
      • Gamestop Corp. (GME)
      • Staples, Inc. (SPLS)
      • Office Depot, Inc. (ODP)
      • American Eagle Outfitters (AEO)
      • Aeropostale Inc. (ARO)
      • Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WAG)
      • Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM)
    • Restaurants/Fast-Food
      • Toys ''R'' Us, Inc.
      • Panera Bread Comp. (PNRA)
      • McDonald's Corp. (MCD)
      • Jamba, Inc.'s (JMBA) Jamba Juice
      • Subway
    • Cell Phone Service Providers:
      • Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ)
      • AT&T, Inc. (T)
      • T-Mobile U.S., Inc. (TMUS)
    • Vending Machines
      • PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP)
      • The Coca-Cola Comp. (KO)
Android Pay

Hardware/Firmware Tweaks

USB Type-C chargers/data cables
  • USB Type-C is bringing its open standard quirky high-speed (up to 100 Gbps peak throughput), high power (up to 100 watts), reversible connectors to upcoming devices, with firmware support from Android 'M'.

  • In standby Android M now supports a new mode dubbed "Doze".  Google claims that it doubled the battery life in an average use scenario versus Android v5.0 Lollipop on the Nexus 6 in its tests.
  • The secret of Doze is to sync data less frequently in hours the phone learns you don't use it (e.g. the middle of the night).
  • During the active hours it uses a more traditional, more power-slurping pace of regular synchronizations (which is what current Android basically does 24-7)
Android M Doze

A couple more notes:
  • The developer version of Android 'M' is available immediately.
  • The consumer version will likely be delivered sometime this fall to OEMs, and trickle out to customers, starting around the holiday season.
  • Google has not announced a version number, but 5.2 or 6.0 are likely possibilities.
  • Google also did not announce the desert-theme codename that starts with 'M'.  Typically it holds off to the consumer preview to do that.  As I've written before, top possibilities include:
    • Marshmallow
    • Milkshake
    • Muffin
    • Moonpie

You can watch the event livestreaming here, while I continue updates.

(To be updated)

Sources: YouTube, Gizmodo

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