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Android 6.0 Marshmallow: Google Looks To Raise The Bar With Smarter Smartphones

Google’s powerful Android operating system is receiving an update code named ‘Marshmallow’ that will become available to users over the upcoming weeks. The OS promises to give its users even more functionality and performance as we head into the holiday season.

Google is calling two of Marshmallow’s biggest new features ‘Now on Tap’, a tool to help people find information quicker, and ‘Doze Mode’, a process designed to save battery life by shutting down apps when the phone is not in use. These features, along with a multitude of others including biometric security measures, are all part of Google’s vision to make your smartphone even smarter.

Google Now on Tap

Now on Tap is a new opt-in feature of Android Marshmallow that gives the user access to information displayed from within an application. The tool can pull information from whatever application you’re using, identifies the important keywords, and presents relevant information to the user as if it was a search query.

It can be triggered by pressing a button, or by saying “Okay Google” to your phone, and asking a question about the information you’re looking at.

For example, if someone sends you a message asking if you would like to go out to dinner later, you can whip out your phone, tap and hold. Now on Tap will generate a “card” on the bottom of your screen that shows what Google thinks you need to know about what you’re looking at.

Think of it as a version of Google Search with artificial intelligence, a search tool that is available without needing to pull up a browser.

Doze Mode

Don’t you hate it when you put your fully charged phone down, then a few hours later you notice the battery is almost dead — right as you’re about to walk out the door? A lot of apps continue to process data and other actions even when you’re not using your phone. So even when you’re not using the device, the processes continue to run, and your battery ends up drained by the time you actually want to use it.

Google recognized this was a problem, and to combat it, they have come up with a way to detect when the phone needs to restrict these apps from functioning.

If your phone falls into three categories, it will be placed in “doze mode.” The phone’s screen must be turned off, it must be stationary, and it must not be charging. If all of these criteria are met, doze mode will go into effect to preserve the battery.

While the phone is dozing, apps still function but their activities are “queued”, and the actions the apps want to take won’t actually take place until doze mode is turned off.

When the user picks up the device, doze mode will automatically deactivate, and all of the apps will be allowed to “catch up” and resume their normal functionality.

App developers need not fret. Google knows that sometimes an app must deliver a notification to the user even when the device may be dozing, and they have been given a priority-based system where they can programmatically bypass the restrictions made by doze mode — just in case.

Convenience, Security, Fun

Convenience seems to be a major theme in Marshmallow, as biometric passwords have been introduced. Users will be able to use their fingerprints to unlock their phone and log into accounts instead of a difficult to type password.

The keyboard will also be revamped, as USA Today reports that frequently used buttons will become more accessible. A translate feature has also been added.

Want to draw? Marshmallow will now have support for a stylus for those interested in using their phone as a canvas.

Marshmallow comes with a number of other quality of life tweaks that are likely to be a hit among consumers as the OS is distributed over the next month. Nexus users are the first in line to receive the update, though it’s unclear when it will arrive to other phones.

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