Google Android MIt’s amazing to consider just how far Google Android has come in its relatively short history, growing to power not only the world’s smartphones and tablets, but also our smartwatches, televisions and even part of our cars. This year will see the release of Android M and this update will come with a bevy of new features.

Just as Android 5.0 Lollipop bolstered our productivity and just as Apple iOS 9 will help us work smarter, the new Android M platform will be just as important for our daily lives, both personally and professionally.

Quick Settings Customization

One of the best Android 5.0 Lollipop features was the quick settings shade. You access this by swiping down from the top of the screen twice, making it easy to toggle your Bluetooth radio or connect to your Wi-Fi network of choice without having to open the full settings menu. Android M is going further with the ability to customize this quick settings menu.

All you have to do is enable Developer Mode and then you can add, remove and move the different settings “tiles” to best suit your workflow. Need a quick way to turn on that mobile hotspot? Now you can, without having to rely on third-party apps or widgets.

Better App Permission Management

New App Permissions in Android M

New App Permissions in Android M

In current builds of Android, you have the opportunity to review the permissions requested by an app before you install that app (or update it). The problem is that you either had to accept all of these permission requests or none of them at all.

Android M is giving more power to the user, letting you cherry pick the permissions on an as-needed basis. You can disallow WhatsApp to access your microphone until you’re actually ready to send a voice note or make a voice call, for example.

Separate Volume Control Access

Volume control on Android devices, for better or for worse, is a little too intelligent. It is context sensitive, adjusting your ringer volume when you’re in regular standby, but changing the speaker volume when you’re watching a video. What if you want to lower the volume of your mobile game before you launch it? Android M lets you do that by providing separate volume sliders for calls, notifications and alarms.

Doze Mode

No matter how great your smartphone or tablet might be, it doesn’t do you any good if it’s out of battery. Google has continued to work on improving battery life with features like Battery Saver mode in Lollipop. That comes on when your battery level falls below 15%. With Android M comes the introduction of Doze, which almost does the same thing, but it works at any time. By way of motion detection, the phone figures out when it’s not being used and reduces the amount of background activity.

Google Now on Tap

Contextual Assistance via Google Now on Tap

Contextual Assistance via Google Now on Tap

If you like Google Now, you’re going to love Now on Tap. This is effectively an even more proactive, contextual and ubiquitous form of Google Now, blending into other apps to provide you with the information and functionality that you might need next. In the screenshot above, for example, a text message is indicating that the dry cleaning might need to be picked up. Now on Tap then gives you a one-tap option to add a reminder to get the dry cleaning.

Android Pay

Google Wallet is fine, but Android Pay is meant to be a more robust system that will better compete against Apple Pay on the iPhone. Android Pay will let you add your credit cards and simply tap to pay at compatible merchants and vendors. Coming along with this is native support for fingerprint readers, something that had previously come only from the manufacturers instead.

USB Type-C Support

The next generation of USB is here and it’s totally reversible. Android M fully supports the new standard, giving you faster charging and more functionality. Remember that USB Type-C can be used for video output and since there’s no up or down, you don’t have to fumble with which way to point your charging cable either.

Image credit: Rob Bulmahn / Flickr

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