October 21, 2015

It’s time for yet another Android operating system, and keeping in line with Google’s recent line of “sweet names” this OS is named “Marshmallow”. Although this operating system only exists in Developer Preview mode for now, it will be hitting devices later this fall so it’s important for developers to understand the new features and how they may need to be integrated into future mobile application updates.

Presenting “Now on Tap for Android”

Google Now and Cards have provided us a glimpse into the future of on-demand information that is relevant to each user based on their behavior. Google has attempted to take it a step further with “Now on Tap”, a feature in the Marshmallow OS that allows the user to simply hold their finger on any item within an application and receive back relevant contextual results for the selection without having the leave the app.

This feature should have a wide range of ramifications for eCommerce and local searches like restaurants. For example, if you receive a text message with the name of a restaurant, simply holding your finger over the name can trigger a result from your OpenTable app allowing you to make a reservation.

According to Google, developers shouldn’t have to do anything to have their apps included in this functionality, so this feature appears ready for primetime upon the full release of the software.

Robust Fingerprint Support and Integration

We have all seen the ability to unlock your phone using a fingerprint, but Marshmallow has taken this a step further by extending this feature to perform other actions.

This functionality will allow developers to create applications that use fingerprints for actions such as making purchases in the app store or logging into your accounts on the applications as well. Fingerprints can help users mitigate the need to remember passwords and enter in on devices that are sometimes cumbersome, especially if you are on the move.

For those concerned about security and privacy issues, Google has gone on the public record and stated that they will be encrypting your fingerprints, so they are virtually impossible for others to access.

Application Permissions

In what may be a significant update for developers, the app permissions have received an overhaul in the new Marshmallow system. In the previous iterations, application permissions were required at the point of installation, and you either accepted or declined all of the settings that were intended by the developer.

In Marshmallow, users will gain much more control over the individual permissions in each application and will be able to customize them to their exact specifications. This flexibility will enable users to turn off an app’s ability to access their contact list, or even turn off features like the microphone. The ability to customize app permissions could provide to be problematic if the application was developed with a dependency on any of these specific functionalities.

Goodbye Google Wallet – Introducing “Android Pay”

Google Wallet never achieved the rapid adoption rate that was hoped, so they are taking another shot at mobile payments with this release in the form of “Android Pay.” This is Google’s latest attempt to tie into the rapidly growing mobile payments marketplace and will allow you to link multiple credit cards to a single phone and use them at nearly 700,000 stores in the United States at the time of launch. This feature will essentially turn your phone into a “Tap and Pay” device and try to begin the process of substituting your device for a wallet.

Other features like the previously mentioned fingerprint functionality can be used for this application if you device has the capability. On the other hand, you will be able to use more of a traditional PIN to unlock the payment method.

Improved Application Links

Almost everyone who is an Android User is familiar with the “Open with” box that pops up if the mobile device doesn’t know to direct the user to the web or another application. With the Marshmallow OS, Google has created a much greater awareness of the link itself, along with the proper destination for rendering the desired result.

For example, if you click on a Facebook link in an email, the Facebook application would immediately open instead of asking whether you would like to view this in a browser or the app itself.

While this may not be a big improvement, it is further evidence that Google has taken the proper steps to address the little things and make their overall mobile experience a much better one.


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