Android 5.0 Lollipop might have only arrived to 10 percent of devices, but attention is already turning towards the next version, currently known as Android M (or Android 6.0). Expected to arrive with improved notification features, as well as Android TV and Android Auto support, here’s what we know so far about Android M
Android M design and interface
We expect Android M to be what iOS 8 was to iOS 7: the big changes in Android’s interface, like the adoption of Material Design, have already been implemented. We doubt Android M will look vastly different to Android Lollipop: expect evolutionary change and refinement rather than a gee-whiz new look.
A concept video for Android M has been uploaded by Android Hackz, and for all it’s an unofficial video, we’re impressed by some of what’s shown — particularly the “app close” animation. Will Android M end up looking like this? There’s no reason why it can’t.
Android M features
Notifications are always being improved upon because they are so frequently complained about. We want relevant notifications, which only appear when we need them, and currently, this is not an exact science.
Rumor has it that the next step Google is taking with notifications is to unify them across all platforms. A notification seen on your PC would not appear on your phone or tablet, for example. It’s early days, but we’re expecting some changes to the way notifications are both displayed and interacted with on Android M.
Android 5.0 Lollipop already focuses on consolidating everything Android has brought us thus far and makes attempts at providing a more stable and quality-assured platform.
On the broader front, the Smart Home will be an increasingly important feature of Android, with complete control over your connected devices at home and in the office via Nest and other third-party makers.
With smartphones being increasingly used for, well… everything, security is something which grows ever-more important. Google recently introduced a “find my phone” feature to Chrome, and a “kill switch” option in Android 5.1 to make stolen phones useless, so look out for further security enhancements on Android M.
With reports that the Apple Watch has already shipped one million units (more than Android Wear devices did in the whole of 2015), Google will be searching for a way to fight back. Android M will undoubtedly bring some improvements to how smartwatches and smartphones interact, and probably with regard to notifications (once again) and voice input.
We may even see some AI robots introduced on which Android M will be demoed… or perhaps I’m just getting a little carried away. Whatever happens, we’re pretty sure Android M will be all about bringing Android to as many new frontiers as possible: from your pocket, to your wrist, to your car and home to who knows what else.
Android M release date
Android KitKat was around for roughly a year between Android Jelly Bean and Android Lollipop update, so it is possible that the Android M release date could be set for October or November 2015. Interestingly, Android M was recently spotted in the Google I/O 2015 schedule, but it was promptly removed (you can read the original story, as well as our thoughts on it, at the link).
What this all means is that Android M could be unveiled at Google I/O 2015, and maybe even released in the fall or early winter alongside the rumored Nexus 5 (2015).
Will Android M work on my phone or tablet?
Possibly not. As we saw with the KitKat release, Android can only go so far backwards with compatibility. With Android 5.0 Lollipop already taking advantage of 64-bit processors and large amounts of RAM we’d expect that some older, less powerful devices won’t be invited to the Android M party – and of course some older devices that should work will be dependent on manufacturers and/or network operators making updates available, which isn’t always guaranteed.
Typically, Android devices are supported by updates for 18 months, just in time for your carrier-contract to run out so you can spend more money on a new handset (I mean, if you want to be cynical about it). Is this something that’s likely to change with the introduction of Android M? Put simply, no.
According to a report from Reuters, Android M will have a significant focus on Google’s Android Auto software, and that the functionality may be built into upcoming cars as standard, without the need to even plug in a phone.
The first wave of cars to integrate with Android Auto will arrive next year (we’ll probably see them at CES 2015 in just a few weeks), but these early vehicles will require a device (running Android Lollipop) to be plugged in to access music, maps, and whatever else.
Within the next “year or so”, claims Reuters, this will no longer be the case, and car-optimized version of Android M will control all of your vehicles entertainment, messaging and GPS in a standalone format.
Android M name
Google typically names its Android versions after a sweet or candy. In chronological order, we’ve seen Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, and Lollipop.
As for the Android M name, the most recent speculation suggests it will be Android Muffin, but other contenders are: Milky Bar, Milky Way, Marshmallow, M&Ms, Mud Cake, and Mars. We’re tipping Android Marshmallow right now because it strikes us as a more dreamy, colorful, Candy Land-style name in-keeping with the Jelly Bean/Lollipop trend.
The sweet evolution of Android: from Cupcake to Lollipop