Talking during the Google I/O keynote, Dave Burke, VP engineering of Android at Google, gave us a sneak peak of what to expect from Android M, the next version of the Google operating system.
Android M is about improving the core user experience in Android and six main areas were highlighted. Here's a breakdown of the big changes that are coming in Android M, as highlighted by Google.
One of the big introductions of Android M will be Android Pay. This will enable NFC payments without opening any app. It will be secure because a virtual card number is created when you register a payment card, rather than an actual card number.
Using an open API, Android Pay will be available through Android's own app, or integrated into other bank apps. It will be available in the US, compatible with existing contactless payment locations, such as those that currently accept Apple Pay. Android Pay launch will be with Android M later in the year.
Native fingerprint support
Confirming rumours, native fingerprint support is coming to Android M using a standard API. That will mean that devices with a fingerprint scanner, like the Samsung Galaxy S6 can offer the same range of features.
You can authorise Android Pay transactions, and support can be integrated into other apps, so anyone will be able to use it.
Power and charging
Android M is going to be smarter at handling its battery power using a new feature called Doze. The aim is to let your device sleep better, without churning through so much battery when you're not actually using it. Google claimed that they'd seen double the standby time on a Nexus 9 running Android M versus Android Lollipop.
Not only that, but USB Type-C support will also be coming. Burke teased on stage that it would be "Coming to a device near you soon" - that's the biggest hint at the next Nexus yet. Also, because USB Type-C works both ways, you'll get options for what you want to do when you connect a device.
Currently when you install an Android app, you agree to a range of permissions – such as what the app has access to. In Android M, you don't have to agree to things you don't want agree to. Instead, apps will ask permissions when you use a feature, rather than at installation.
You'll be able to update the permissions at times other than installation too, so if you don't want microphone permission, you can cancel it.
Chrome custom tabs
Chrome wants to make integration of web and apps better, and with custom Chrome tabs you'll get with better integration that's customisable, with pre-loaded content and so on. This will need the app developer to take advantage of it, but Google showcased integration with Pinterest, for a more seamless web experience, letting you Pin things you like more simply.
When you hit a link in an Android app you're presented with a list of apps that potentially open it. Often, there's options that won't work. In Android M, rather than being shown an option, app developers will be able to say where apps should be opened. The aim is to make things faster and more seamless and avoid some of the existing confusion.
But that's not all...
But those six point aren't all that Android M is going to offer - as was the case with Android L, the M logo was made up of features that you'll find in Android M.
Burke detailed that word selection has been improved for copy and paste, with a floating toolbar and that sharing has been improved - promoting people and apps you use more frequently, for one-tap options.
Better volume controls were also teased. Android Lollipop made a mess of volume controls, hiding the media controls when no media was open. It looks like you'll be getting better controls in Android M.
There will also be Google Now enhancements, giving you Now on Tap for faster suggestions using Google Now.
But then there's a whole load of features that haven't been mentioned. You have support for duplex printing, better Bluetooth LE scanning, Google Now Launcher app suggestions, auto backup for apps, improved trusted face recognition, 5GHz hotspot support, MIDI support, stylus support as well as a whole lot more.
When will Android M launch?
There's no official word on the launch date for the consumer release of Android M, but there will be a developer version available for the Nexus 5, 6 and 9.
Burke did say that Android Pay would be launching with Andorid M later in the year. We'd expect it to debut on a new Nexus device, with fingerprint scanner, of course.