As many of you probably heard, Google has announced the arrival of next Android M and have released a preview version of it dubbed, “Android M”. For those of you with a Nexus 5, 6, or 9, you are in luck as you can easily install the Android M Preview.
So, let’s look at some of the new features with Android M Preview over its predecessor Lollipop.
First, you will find the Android version “M” in Settings->About Phone. While it’s still unclear what “M” stands for, it is crystal clear that Google has made some major changes/upgrades.
When you press the Android version and the M a bunch of times, you no longer get a game like we saw with Lollipop. This is a bit disappointing but then again, you probably don’t like losing all the time.
The biggest change with Android M is the app drawer, you will find a vertical app drawer instead of horizontal we are used to.
You will also find your most-used apps showing up on top with an alphabetized list of apps and a search bar at the top.
One of the biggest changes I found was with the Calendar app as now it fills my calendar with related images. I found a scissor picture for my dog’s haircut day, airplane for my flights, photos of my travel destinations, and even street view of my future hotel stays. I thought this was really cool since it made my calendar automagically awesome like a scrapbook.
With Android M, Google has simplified the volume controls. Now you can easily access them through a drop down menu to control your notification, media, and alarm sound levels.
For Do Not Disturb/Priority Only modes, Google has really cleaned up a lot of things and also added ability to customize them.
When set to Priority Only, you can decide which are priority notifications to you. You can set reminders, events, messages, and your contacts. For contacts, you can also choose to have priority for all of your contacts or just your starred ones.
Of course, Google went another step with Android M to give the user the ability to choose which apps get priority notifications. For example, I wanted to make my Twitter notifications as part of priority notifications, I can simply enable “Treat as priority” in App Settings.
Another new feature is “App Permissions”, which allows you to control what each app can access including contacts, phone, location, and much more.
If you like getting nitty gritty, Android M provides detailed usage of your data on per app basis. This means you will know exactly how much data your latest Snapchat session used.
Battery stats are also shown on per app basis with Android M and you will know exactly how much battery each app is using.
Click on the graph and it will even break it down to your GPS, WiFi, screen, and more. This is probably more than enough information than you will ever need but it’s there for those of you who need it.
Tired of choosing default apps for different URLs nevermind clearing defaults through mind boggling app settings? No worries, Android M has it covered. You can easily switch default apps in settings now and no need to install 3rd party apps like Clear Defaults app.
Android M also comes with a longpress Home button shortcut, which will bring up Google Now. This is supposed to bring up Google Now cards also from the bottom of the screen but it’s still a work in progress and Google has yet to activate it. Aside from that, it’s super easy to use Google Now to do voice searches from anywhere on your phone.
In Settings, you will also find a dedicated Google button for all the Googly settings for Google’s services.
With Google having so many different services, Android M brings them all together and in organized fashion through one settings menu.
Google has really been stepping up with customization. Although nowhere near good as some AOSP ROMs like BlissPop ROM (which already has light/dark mode since KitKat), Android M brings you light/dark/automatic theme for your settings UI. (You will need to activate Developer Options by tapping on your build number 5 times first.)
(Dark settings UI can save you a ton of battery life and much easier on your eyes.)
Performance is pretty good for the Android M Preview version. Although I did experience some lag (but I believe it was due to my apps syncing) in the beginning, they all disappeared after about an hour of use and everything was fast and zippy. Benchmarks weren’t too shabby either with my Nexus 6 getting around 51K marks.
Overall, Android M Preview isn’t for everyone but it’s certainly good enough to run as daily driver (as I am doing right now). With Android L Preview last year, we saw a lot of apps that weren’t compatible but I’ve had zero problems running all of my usual apps with Android M Preview. So, definitely give it a try if you are an early bird and do let me know how you like the latest Android M Preview! (You can use our Lollipop Manual update method to install it on your Nexus 5, 6, or 9.)
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