On May 28th at the annual Google I/O developer event, Google revealed the next version of Android, dubbed Android M for now. It’s filled with tons of new features, security enhancements, tweaks to the look and feel of Android 5.1 Lollipop, a new “Doze” battery saving feature, USB Type-C support, dark theme for settings, automatic app backups, and even multi-window mode.
The Android L developer preview remained largely static in the time between its launch and Lollipop’s official release. That isn’t the case with Android M, which Google says will receive monthly Over-The-Air (OTA) updates. Last week Android M Developer Preview 2 arrived on scene. Look at here now and get the best tips from this site.
If you’re like me and absolutely want and need the latest updates, you might have already flashed Android M Developer Preview 2 onto your Nexus when it arrived last week. The first of them is now available for the Nexus 5 and 6.
The Android M Developer Preview 2 is less about showing off new changes and more about (near) finalizing the many new APIs coming with Android M so developers can test them out prior to the final release. Best laptops for programming. After all, this is a developer preview. Ars Technica tested Android M Preview 2 on the Nexus 5 and 6 and shared a few of its observations:
Rotating Home Screen:
Preview 2 of the next Android now supports auto-rotate that also allows landscape orientation for devices, which normally is optimized for large screen devices or specifically tablet computers.
System UI tuner:
The other big additions are the new System UI Tuner options. The UI tuner was introduced in the first version of Android M and only let you rearrange the power control pulldown, but now it has been expanded with status bar options.
There’s an option to show a percentage readout in the battery status bar icon, which has been a favorite feature of modders. This has been built into AOSP forever but turning it on before required a rooted phone—now it’s very easy.
Redesigned App Drawer:
The most prominent change is the fixed app drawer, which looks much better than the Preview 1 version. The original implementation removed an entire column of icons to make room for huge index letters. It looked ugly and was a waste of space, so we’re glad to see them gone. There’s still the nice-to-have search bar at the top of the screen, and it actually looks like a search bar now.
The top row of apps in the app drawer, which isn’t alphabetical and changes all the time, is apparently the “predictive apps” bar. We’ll have to see how well it actually predicts what we want to use.
No more Dark Theme:
The one feature that seems removed (or at least hidden) is the “Theme” options that were in the developer settings. They’re just gone now. The removal of the feature just goes to show you that test builds don’t always give an accurate picture of what to expect from the final software.
Is the dark theme gone forever? Hard to say. It’s possible that they were merely testing it and decided it wasn’t worth keeping. Or dark theme might not be fully ready for prime time and was removed in preview 2 to further fix it up for a final release. Only time will tell for sure.
Storage gets a makeover:
Internal storage is always a hassle for smartphone users. Even with microSD expansion and USB On The Go (OTG) you always seem to need to keep an eye on available storage space. The new version of Android M introduces a simple line bar that shows how much space you have on your device with a breakdown of what is using up your internal storage.
One of the changes found in the original M Preview was an improved memory manager that added several new features including a way to better see how much RAM each of your apps was using.
Finding the setting in M originally required you to take several steps, but in Preview 2 it is more prominently found in its own “Memory” tab right in the Settings screen.
Each time you take a screenshot in Android (4.0 and higher), you’ll get a notification in your tray letting you know it has been saved. The second version of the Android m developer preview has added a new delete option to the screenshot preview in the notifications shade. Now you can delete it as well.