Tired Of Lollipops? Try A Marshmallow

Google announced that it will push the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow out to several Nexus devices today. The latest version of Android contains several new features exclusive to the new OS. These new features make Android a more secure platform, while also attempting to be more helpful to end-users and improve the battery life of all devices that use it.

The Strike Against Cortana And Siri

One of the new features implemented by Google in Android 6.0 Marshmallow is clearly meant to undermine Microsoft's new Cortana software, and Apple's Siri. Although Google already offered several applications that performed the same functions as Cortana in part, the new "Now on Tap" feature takes things one step further. This new feature is capable of searching for related information about places you are going or other things you are doing. For example, if you were going to the Central Park Zoo to meet a friend, the application could provide information about the zoo, directions, offer shortcuts, set dates, and perform other helpful tasks.

Security Improvements

To help secure your device against theft and malicious applications, Google also implemented a few new security features. Smartphones can be configured to lock using a fingerprint sensor, preventing anyone but you from accessing it. The fingerprint sensor can also be used to lock applications so that you can only use applications or complete transactions in the Google Play Store by verifying your identity via fingerprint.

Compared to older versions of Android, users will have significantly more control over what third party applications can access. Users can lock down the contacts, location, microphone and storage device inside of the smart device. This should help prevent malicious software from stealing information or from impairing the devices usability.

Battery Improvements

Google also reported that users should expect to see increased battery life on devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The improved battery life comes from a change in the power conservation states used on the device. Google claimed that in a test using Nexus 5s and Nexus 6s devices with the display turned off, the devices running Marshmallow lasted on average 30 percent longer. The OS is also programmed to put seldom used apps into a "reduced activity" state, which will also help to conserve battery life even with the phone is in use.

Faster Setup

Another helpful feature that this new version of Android implements is a fast setup ability. This will allow users to skip most of the setup process when first initializing devices. This feature is especially useful for users who customize their phones with homebrewed firmware. App developers will also benefit significantly from this fast setup ability, as it can take several minutes to setup a tablet. This isn't a major issue for end-users, but after you reset the system a few dozen times, that starts to add up.

Things Are About To Get Hot And Sticky

Starting today, users who own a Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9 or Nexus Player will be able to download the update straight to their devices. The upcoming Nexus 5X and 6P expected to launch in the near future will naturally come with Android 6.0 Marshmallow pre-installed.

Follow Michael Justin Allen Sexton @EmperorSunLao. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.
  • childofthekorn
    Still waiting on 5.1.1 on my turbo. Thanks verizon!
  • Gam3r01
    I just hope LG will show some love for its older devices, the G2 got lollipop early compared to the G3 and it killed the battery, at least give us this.
  • dragonsqrrl
    Still waiting on 5.1.1 on my turbo. Thanks verizon!

    Only just received the 5.1 update on my Moto X 2013, also on Verizon. And there will be no further updates for this phone.
  • Solandri
    Point of clarification, Google/Android actually had voice web search and voice text messaging about a year before Siri. They just never thought of personifying it and giving it a name so the press could talk about how wonderful an innovation it was.

    If you own a Nexus device, you can install Marshmallow using Nexus Root Toolkit instead of waiting for your carrier to roll it out. Root doesn't yet work with the stock kernel (as of 10/5), as Google patched the security hole which was being used to get root access.
  • targetdrone
    I'm not tired enough of Jellybeans to drop $900 on a "flagship" phone that removed the SDHC slot and went with an integrated battery.

    Galaxy Note II forever!
  • IInuyasha74
    16736214 said:
    Point of clarification, Google/Android actually had voice web search and voice text messaging about a year before Siri. They just never thought of personifying it and giving it a name so the press could talk about how wonderful an innovation it was.

    Right, which is why I mention in the article that Google already has applications that provide a lot of the same features as Cortana ans Siri. :)

    This is a point of stepping up the services they affiliate with digital assistant software, not a point of Google is just now getting software capable of working similar to Cortana and Siri.
  • waynes
    Will web have to wait till .1 or so version for bugs to be worked out.

    Seriously, they need to give users a fine grained application gate on everything. Applications able to see anything including their own use is a willful violation of privacy and security that should be punishable under law by criminal conviction. As a compromise (putting aside the inevitable class action by millions of people that can bankrupt companies) all such anti security spyware reporting activity should anomynously go through google api's so only google knows the source being restricted to non descriptive data. Applications should never be able to see what other applications are doing over such api's, or the app list, except communications to themselves, but failing that they should not be able to see other applications through the api's unless there are 1000 other users using at the moment and never where it is used (for anonymity, you might be the only one on the city). And all such reporting be done on a non unique ID basis, nor session, to stop them working out who it is, like they can on the web at the moment. A number of these things have been suggested already.
  • ErikVinoya
    Still waiting on 5.1.1 on my turbo. Thanks verizon!

    lol my S4 is still stuck at 5.0.1
  • ravewulf
    My S5 is still on 5.0 (not even 5.0.1). I'll be lucky if I get 6.0 before 7.0 is released at the rate Samsung and Verizon are updating their stuff.
  • dstarr3
    My S4 is still on 4.2. Looks like I'll be skipping 5 altogether. Hooray?