Google has been pretty cagey about their new Project M for quite a while. First teased during the Google I/O in May, speculation has been flying around the internet about what exactly Project M is, what it entails, how it will be released, and what the M stands for. Finally, after months of waiting and speculation, Google has released a name and some details about Project M. As it happens (and as you might have guessed from the title of this article) Project M is a shorthand name for Marshmallow, the latest version of Android, which is version 6.0 of Android’s software development kit. It promises new features, greater customization, and opening Google Play to apps that use the brand-new API level 23. This article is an overview of Marshmallow and goes into some detail about these new features along with how Android’s Marshmallow interacts with tech of a similar caliber.
Android 6.0 SDK has arrived
As I mentioned, Marshmallow is version 6.0 of Android’s software development kit. It is now available to download through the Android studio, and it’s quickly making waves with its variety of features. It allows users to build apps with the latest available development tools and supports the powerful new API level 23. The process for installing Android 6.0 SDK is quite simple.
- First, you download it from the Android studio.
- Then, you update your app project compileSdkVersion to 23.
- After that, you should be easily able to test, build, or run apps with the new platform and tools.
Another thing to remember to update is the Android Support Library, which has reference material for all kinds of development topics. Updating this to version 23 will ensure that you are able to access everything you need to develop in Marshmallow.
Marshmallow features quite a few new features, which expand the functionality of the Android software development kit in a few significant ways. The first of these new features is Android Pay, which is a system that handles mobile payments for anything from a restaurant bill to an online purchase to a monthly fee like a rent payment or a utility bill. This works with a system called Google Wallet, which is an online mobile payments service also run by Google. Both of these apps mean that users can pay for things using their phones which online or in a story. Additionally, the two features work together in order to allow people to make small money transfers from one to another. This feature had previously not caught on, and it’s not a surprise if you hadn’t heard of it, since Google Wallet was fairly unpopular in the grand scheme of things and never really gained a lot of acclaim from critics or users. See an Android Pay Demo here.
This service is meant, in part, to counter Apple’s Apple Pay service, which is a new feature on the iPhone 6 models and the Apple Watch. Mobile development for banking and matters of finance is becoming more and more interesting to customers, which means that competition is probably going to heat up soon between more companies than just Android and Apple.
Another new feature of Marshmallow is a search assistant called Now On Tap. Again, in an effort to counter Apple, Now On Tap allows users to access Google Now by holding down the center button of the mobile device. This is quite similar to the method for activating Siri on an iPhone. Dueling between the two mobile giants aside, this is a neat feature because it gives users quick access to a voice-activated search that can return all kinds of results relevant to what they have going on.
Unfortunately, reception for newer versions of Android is usually pretty lukewarm from a user standpoint. Only about 18 percent of Android users (who make up about 80% of mobile phones in the world) use the most recent version the software development kit, which is a staggeringly low percentage, given the popularity of Android. As it happens, most users are running at least two versions behind, and that gives you some idea about how users feel about updating what might seem like non-essential software.
Upload your marshmallow apps
As of now, the Google Play store is ready to stock apps from the new API level 23. It will probably take a while for the new API to really kick in, given that the Google Play store won’t have a great number of apps designed for Marshmallow available, probably until mid or late august.
It’s a good idea to test apps you’ve created (both new and old) in order to head off any compatibility issues that you might encounter.
Trends with adoption of past Android updates
As mentioned previously, new updates like Marshmallow usually receive a rather cool welcome, and the majority of Android users (about 73%) still run systems with two year old operating systems. It’s not very heartening to think that no one will download Marshmallow at all, but it’s important to remember that a lot of this stuff is very much developer-led, and if developers are creating interesting apps, then the users will follow, and if they have to update to do it, so much the better.