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Android 6.0 Marshmallow features

android 6.0 marshmallow

It’s one of the biggest questions around here: “when is my phone getting Android 6.0 Marshmallow?”. We all want to have the latest and greatest Android software around, but we can often be guilty of not even knowing what these updates bring to the table.

In the Case of Marshmallow, the change was pretty significant when compared to Lollipop. Plenty of new features and capabilities have been introduced, and our goal is to tell you all about the hottest new goodies in this post. Shall we get started?

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0126See also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup – December 18, 201590

New app drawer

This will probably be one of the most obvious changes to the UI you will find. The new app drawer dumps horizontal scrolling, which has been around since Jelly Bean first came into the picture. The new app drawer scrolls vertically, which does seem to speed up navigation and gets you to your apps quicker.

In addition, users can now grab the scroll bar on the right side and jump through letters to more easily find the apps you need. It goes right in line with other Google apps, such as the Contacts applications. Not to mention, plenty of other applications have implemented this new mechanic, which works like a charm.

Android Marshmallow App Drawer

And if you really just don’t feel like scrolling around at all, there is also a new app drawer search bar that will help you really get to specific apps in a jiffy. But you probably won’t need to use it much, as the first row holds your most used apps.

Slight change to the lock screen

The lock screen really is almost identical to the one in Lollipop. There is only one real change here. Instead of having dialer and camera shortcuts in the bottom corners, Google has opted to replace the dialer app with access to voice commands. I suppose Google believes voice commands are more important than actually calling people, and at this point they may not be wrong.


Not much to see in the home screens

There really isn’t much to see around here. Well… yes, there are some changes, but these aren’t really exclusive to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. For starters, the Search bar on top and some icons will look more colorful, but the same applies to other devices, as these changes were implemented via Google Play Store updates.

Otherwise, this is just the stock Google Now Launcher experience you have experienced in the past. You can swipe all the way to the left to access Google Now, while other home screen pages will build up to the right.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0010

The notification area

I spend much of my phone time using the notification area. After all, this is where my main settings and all alerts go. Google has found a good way to keep this section organized, but they are always trying to improve things, even if by a bit. this means that there are definitely some changes in here.

You still have your two-step notification area process process. Swipe down once (with one finger) and you will be presented with your current notifications, which can then be expanded or accessed. Swipe down again (or swipe down with two fingers) and the Quick Settings menu will show up.

Android Marshmallow Quick Settings

By the way, that ‘dismiss all’ button might look a bit different. Google simply changed the way it’s facing. You know – for no real reason, really. Oh, and the priority notification settings that caused quite a stir in Lollipop has now been relegated to the Quick Settings.

android 6.0 marshmallowSee also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow – New features explained53

Google Now on Tap

This is one of the features Google focused most on when showcasing its new Android version. and for good reason, it is actually quite awesome. Have you ever been checking out a website reading about… I don’t know, a new Star Wars movie? Surely, you want to learn more about it, but it’s a hassle to access a new tab or launch another app just to perform a search.

Google Now on Tap makes Search a system-wide feature you can launch by simply long-pressing the home button. Doing this will present you with information relevant to whatever it is you are currently looking at.

google now on tap (3)

As it goes with plenty of other Google services, Now on Tap is a bit of a beta product. We hope to see it evolve soon, though. Once Google finishes polishing it, it will be much more helpful.

Doze Mode – more battery life, happier users

Don’t you hate it when your phone dies and you don’t even use it? And I mean that in the most literal sense possible. Some phones will lose plenty of juice while in standby mode. Doze Mode was introduced to help desperate users stay off their phones for longer, without having to recharge all the time.

What Doze Mode does is extend standby battery life by putting the phone in a deeper slumber during longer periods of inactivity. Reports say a Nexus 5 can last days, and even weeks, on a single charge. Of course, with no usage.

Google IO 2015 Dave Burke Doze 3

The only issue here is that Doze Mode requires long periods of inactivity in order to be engaged, something that will help very few of us. In addition, applications can bypass this feature if set to priority, and since developers are the ones who determine whether their app is important enough or not, chances are very few apps will be turned off in this mode.

Inactive apps will be put to sleep too

Google didn’t conform with putting the phone in a deeper sleep when the device is inactive. They went all the way down to the app level. One of the benefits of the Android OS is that it’s such a great multi-tasker, but it can also be a bad thing if you have a bunch of applications installed. To counteract this, Google has decided to take inactive apps and put them in a deeper sleep.

Native fingerprint support!

Not only do the new Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X integrate fingerprint readers – the whole system does! Google has released a fingerprint API that gives developers the power to tap into our phones’ biometric authentication.

What this means is that not only will these fingerprint readers be good for unlocking your device, any developer can use it to offer a secure connection with their users. Imagine once banks, social networks, email clients and other services integrate it. Say goodbye to passwords!

nexus 6p review aa (10 of 12)

Android Pay

By the way, Google’s own Android Pay is among the first to take advantage of fingerprint support. This app was introduced along with Marshmallow and allows you to pretty much do the same as Google Wallet and other contactless payment services. You can add your cards and make NFC payments at supported stores.

So, how is it better than Google Wallet? It is integrated to the very backbone of the system. It’s no longer just an app in the phone. The difference is that you don’t need to open an app to use it. Just unlock your phone and tap your way around!

android pay

Granular app permissions for the win!

Before, downloading an app meant having to succumb to accepting all the app permissions developers requested. Some of these seemed unreasonable and unnecessary. With Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can now download any app and select with permissions you allow it to access.

Having control over these settings is something plenty of power users have been requesting for a long time, and now we see it at full force with Android 6.0. For starters, one can easily go to the Settings app and see which apps can access certain permissions. You can then disable them selectively.

Google IO 2015 Dave Burke WhatsApp app permision

To avoid any potential conflicts, Google has a built-in system that feeds fake data to the app so it keeps on chugging along as expected. That means you won’t have to worry about older apps crashing when you disable permissions. Some functionality may stil break if you turn off the wrong permission, though. For example, you shouldn’t deny access to the camera on a camera app.

App Links

We all hate having to pick which app we want to open a link with, right? Surely, you know what I am talking about. Whenever you click on, say, a Facebook link, the system will pull up a box and ask whether you want to open it with a browser, the Facebook app or any other app that taps into the social network.

it gets annoying, so this is why Google is introducing App Links with Android 6.0. What this does is pretty much allow applications to take ownership of whatever links may belong to them. Of course, the box will still show up from time to time, but definitely not as often as before.

Android Marshmallow App Links

The simplified volume slider is back!

Was anyone else annoyed by the new volume slider controls in Lollipop? This “improved” system allowed you to tap into Priority Mode, in which only certain apps were allowed to send you alerts. Then there was a Do Not Disturb Mode, which silenced everything.This was cool, but it was too much to work with while on-the-go.

The volume controls in the notification area have been simplified again. Just lower the volume all the way and the phone will be put in Vibrate Mode, while one more move over will put you in Do Not Disturb Mode. Easy and clean. And you can still access that Priority Mode from the Quick Settings menu.

Android Marshmallow Volume Bar

Text selection gets a floating window

Text selection hasn’t been the best on Android, something plenty of us have been complaining about for years. Google aims to change this in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and I think they have gotten pretty far in their efforts of improving the experience.

When you highlight text, the system will now display a floating menu right next to the text, with 3 options included: Select All, Copy or Share. Simply edit your selection using the blue bubbles and tap on the action of choice.

Chrome Custom Tabs

Don’t we all hate those silly in-app browsers we see in apps like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest? I sure do, which is why I am glad Google introduces Chrome Custom Tabs, a feature not many are making much fanfare over, but will make a huge difference in in-app browsing.

Android Marshmallow Chrome Custom Tabs 3

In essence, all Chrome Custom tabs is allow developers to use Chrome as the base for their in-app browsers. They can be customized to their needs, but will have Chrome at the base of all the code. This means you can benefit from things like cookies, log-in history, auto-complete and more.

System UI Tuner

Tweaking the Android UI can be a bit complicated. We have plenty of options to choose from, but their are all buried in their little sections within the Settings app. This is why System UI Tuner proved to be a very helpful feature for those of us who like things a little different.

I like seeing the battery percentage in my status bar, for example. The System UI Tuner allows me to do this with a simple toggle. There’s plenty of other options to choose from, so go play around with it.

Android Marshmallow System UI Tuner

RAM memory manager

This one is a bit of a nifty feature for those of you who like keeping an eye on how much resources certain apps use. Google has added a whole new section in the ‘Memory” settings, in which the system shows you how much RAM memory apps have been using it. You can’t really do much else, but at least you will know if apps are going rogue and take the necessary actions.

Android Marshmallow Recent Apps

USB Type-C and USB 3.1 support

USB has its pros and cons right now, but it’s downsides are mostly due to how new the technology is. Truth is, USB Type C is the future. It allows for all kinds of interaction, such as charging, data transfer, accessory connections and more. All at faster speeds and stronger connections, thanks to USB 3.1.

Oh, and yes, it is reversible. No longer do you have to think about which side is up or down.

Other USB Type C articles:


Delete those screenshots right away

Manufacturers have done something similar, but the stock Android experience hasn’t natively supported the ability to delete screenshots from the notification area. I believe I am not alone when I say plenty of my screenshots are no good, and it’s a hassle to have to go into Google Photos to delete it.

Now you can just go to your notification area and press the ‘Delete’ option. You are done!

The ultimate microSD support

It has been a roller coaster ride with Google when it comes to microSD support. Their main phones don’t even support them, and plenty of manufacturers are following suit with this. Overall, support has been coming and going.

It’s currently hard to find a phone with a microSD slot, but if you do have one, you are in for a treat. Android 6.0 Marshmallow supports what they call “adoptable storage”.

PNY microSD card

But what does that even mean? In a nutshell, you can insert a microSD card and format it to work with your device alone. This does mean it will no longer work with other devices, but the benefit here is that the storage will be treated as if it was internal. Apps and other content will be installed directly to the card. It will become an extension of your internal storage.

Grab a good deal on a microSD card!

Apps & settings backup

One of the biggest pains about getting a new phone, or factory resetting your current one, is that you have to spend hours setting up all your apps and settings again. Google kills that issue with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, after introducing the ability to backup most of the data in your phone to Google Drive.

This will include settings, WiFi passwords, apps, app data, game progress and more. Pretty freaking awesome, if you ask me!

Google Settings app is now in the actual Settings app

I always thought it was weird that the Google Settings app wasn’t in the… settings. But I am just a common citizen and Google knows better, right? Well, it turns out our concerns were not so wrong. The Google Settings app has been moved to the actual Settings app.

You can access the Google area in the settings to manage Android Pay, connected apps, Google Fit, Google Photos, Smart Lock for Passwords and more.

Direct Share

Direct Share is a new sharing feature enabled in Marshmallow. What it does is remembers who you share things with and in what apps you do your sharing. Over time, it will begin recommending people you can directly share to over the app you generally use to communicate with them. It’s a small thing, but it could save a lot of time if you always share to the same people.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0126See also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup – December 11, 201590

What about Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow?

Yes, there is a new version of Android Marshmallow and it does come with some significant changes For starters, a bunch of new emojis have been added to the system. Tablet users are also enjoying a new button set-up, in which the back and home buttons are pushed to the left, while the recent apps button is on the right side.

In addition, one can now double press the power button to quickly access the camera. There’s also some Do Not Disturb Mode improvements in the form of an automatic way to unmute notifications after your alarm sounds off.

Other Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow content:

Wrapping up

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0001

Wow, that is a long list of features, right? The crazy thing is that there is more where all that came from. The Android Marshmallow code is full of tweaks and hidden (and not hidden) treasures ready to be uncovered. These are but our favorite new features.

But tell us, guys. Which of these are your total favorite additions to the Android operating system? What else would you like to see?

android 6.0 marshmallowSee also: Poll: how is Android 6.0 Marshmallow treating you?87


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Sennheiser GSP 670 headset review: premium price, subpar performance

The search for a new headset can really get frustrating. Sure, there are a million options on Amazon for under $50, but when you want something premium, where do you start? If you’re looking for the best possible audio quality, you start with the Sennheiser GSP 670 and hope you can find it on sale because these things don’t come cheap.The GSP 670 is a premium headset with sound quality and a price tag to match. Launching at $350, you’re paying for the Sennheiser name and quality. We’ve tested multiple Sennheiser headsets throughout the years and have almost always come away impressed. That’s the same story here.The first thing you may notice about this headset is just how big it is. It looks big before you pick it up and it feels big once you put it on. Coming in at just shy of 400g, it has the weight to make those extremely long gaming sessions taxing, but luckily Sennheiser included one of the best headbands I’ve seen in a headset yet. It’s big and comfortable without looking too ridiculous.The earcups are equally nice with large plus fabric cups that will keep your ears away from the driver covers. If you prefer leatherette cups you’ll want to find another option, but I did find these to be one of the most comfortable headsets to just sit and listen to music on. The clamping force is just right (although uneven; more on that later) and the earcups provide a wonderful seal to keep the noise of the world away from your ears.One the outside of the headset, there’s a small tactile wheel to adjust chat volume if you’re using a gaming console, a large volume knob, and a multifunction button that will provide audio prompts for battery level and put you into pairing mode when you hold it down. The only thing we’re missing here is a physical switch to move between Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards, and we’ll tell you why that matters in a bit.The microphone is on the left side of the headset and provides a nice tactile click when you flip it all the way up. This is how you mute your microphone and comes in handy when you need to have a quick conversation and get back to whatever you were doing before.I wish I could report that the microphone provided better audio quality but I was pretty disappointed. It’s been a struggle to find a wireless headset that really gives great performance in this area (I’m guessing there’s a bandwidth issue) and the Sennheisers fall disappointingly short. I think they sound much the same as every other headset released in the last decade, which isn’t saying a lot.Both Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards are here. Plugging the USB dongle into my computer, the headset paired almost instantly and opened up a world of opportunity to tune through the Sennheiser app. There are options to tune your EQ, how the microphone sounds, and even provide a noise gate in case you have a noisy background. I didn’t find much difference in how the microphone sounded using these options so hopefully, they continue to be tuned in future updates.The sound that comes through these headphones is a completely different story. This has been one of the best audio experiences I’ve had in my time reviewing tech. I’d put it up there with the Sony WH-1000xm3 in terms of enjoyment. Where Sony offers amazing noise cancelation, the Sennheiser GSP 670 takes the crown in terms of audio quality.I found music pleasingly bass-y without feeling like I’m slogging through the mud just to listen. Mids are very clear while highs are crisp without being piercing.I just wish I enjoyed wearing these more. I can’t overstate how heavy these things are. At just under 400g, they’re one of the heavier headsets I’ve tested and it can be exhausting during long sessions. With 16 hours of battery life, those sessions can last all night, but you’ll need breaks.Additionally, I don’t like wearing these because of how the cups sit on my head. While the cups themselves are large enough that my ear doesn’t touch anything, the clamping is uneven and annoying. You can use the sliders in the headband to adjust your clamp, but I always end up with more pressure on the bottom of the cups than at the top.Frankly, these don’t look great and certainly don’t look like something I’d pay over $300 for. They’re big and bulky with muted colors and an … aggressive? design. I’m not entirely sure what to call this design language but there are definitely better-looking options on the market. This won’t matter to some, but for those who do care, it’s a bit of a killer and makes the cost harder to justify.ConclusionThere are always trade-offs when you’re using a wireless headset. Sennheiser smartly did not skimp on the audio quality and if you’re looking for a wireless headset that sounds great, this is definitely where you want to start. I put it at the top of the list in that respect.But, where it falls apart is pretty much everywhere else. Tradeoffs become pretty obvious when you use these for more than a few hours.Yep, they’re built solidly and the plastic design means they’ll hold up to some abuse. But, these look cheaper than competing options like the Astro A50s and Arctis Pro Wireless. Plus, as I’ve said a few times, they’re heavy.It’s awesome that they have both 2.4ghz and Bluetooth standards. But there’s no way to manually switch between them and the second that your computer plays audio via the USB dongle, the Bluetooth cuts out completely. If you’re using these to take a phone call or listen to music on your phone and you accidentally click on a YouTube link on your computer, say goodbye to your audio. This would be an easy fix with a manual switch and we hope to see that in a future revision.Best over-ear headphones (spring 2020)I can’t state enough how crappy the audio from the mic is. Maybe I’m spoiled by streamers who invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars into their audio equipment, but this sounds like every headset I’ve heard the last decade of gaming and that’s pretty disappointing.If your voice quality matters to you at all, I’d suggest getting a standalone mic. But you have to ask yourself if you’re grabbing something like a Blue Yeti, is there a justification for the GSP 670 when you can buy a wireless headset for far cheaper?I know it probably looks like I hate the Sennheiser GSP 670 but I don’t. In true dad fashion, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. While they’re best in class in terms of audio quality, the things they miss on are a killer and make them harder to recommend over other competitors.After a bit of searching, I’ve found the Sennheiser GSP 670 around $300 and sometimes cheaper on sale. I think if you can find these cheaper than that, go for it. Your ears will thank you. At full price, they’re a tough sell.Buy the Sennheiser GSP 670 at Amazon