Not too long ago, I decided I didn’t want to wait and emailed a friend of mine, went over to his place and asked for a hand writing some commands that I (in my prime) knew. Not long after, I was running the Android M dev. Preview on G3, and found myself incredibly satisfied.
While this was too limited to actually play with, it can already stand the test of day-to-day use as a main driver, and I would quite frankly enjoy using this all the time.
Now fist of all, don’t install this and expect it to be running perfectly, with all of the flashy gadgets you expect from android, because most of your regular running apps won’t be working in harmony with the system, as was the same with Android L.
Sadly, us Android enthusiasts can’t use this to build to wow all of our iOS devotee friends, it’s made so that developers can have an early chance to redevelop their apps, and ensure that compatibility is with Google’s modified vision, so that Android Pay, Direct Share, and almost all of the rest are nowhere to be found.
The feature that killed me, is the lack of Now on Tap. A dead simple feature that provides an informational Now card based on what you’re saying, or reading. That being said, I’m not living in a bout of fear that the government is watching my every move. I’ll admit, its presence can prove to be a tad creepy, but at the same time it’s like having a personal secretary assuming my every move, but I’ll have to learn to get over it. After all, I’m not the multi-billion dollar company developing this.
So what do have to be excited about?
Well, there’s a new app launcher which replaces the old side-swiping app list, with a scrolling list, bunching your apps by name, with the four apps you use the most often, live in an ever-changing top row which does a great job keeping up with your changing moods.
A quick launch bae also makes an appearance whenever you type into the Google Search Widget. Which helps me, because I’m constantly searching for something online and realising that I could have just used (or gotten) and app to make it easier.
Another neat tool I found after some digging around in the Dev. Settings, is that you can find a UI tuner, which (for now) lets you rearrange the Quick Settings slots that live above your notifications shade.
Luckily, device makers like LG have let us play with these little bits for ages now, and it’s great to see Google taking notes from what others have already done to Android.
Another draw of Android M’s, is that it’s much smarter to take on app permissions, the days of agreeing to permissions before you’ve even used the app are long over HurrayI of course, you’re going to have to sign a manifest of permissions requests and such but you can jump into the apps menu in the settings to manually disable certain permissions.
After toying with this a little, I found that there are a slew of apps that aren’t quite compatible with it yet, making it rather difficult to use this feature. I spent more time coming to terms with Google’s more advanced sound and notification controls.
Remember in Lollipop, you could crank the volume all the way into vibration only, and one more click would make the phone completely silent. Now, with M, that one click brings you all the way into Do Not Disturb mode that you can play with from the Quick Settings options. Android’s original implementation felt pretty damn perfect, but M is a step in the right direction: I look forward to filtering everything but work messages.
Beyond that, there’s mostly minor changes: Lockscreen font is a tad thicker than it used to be, and if you’re lazy like me, then you’ll be happy to learn that if you swipe from the left corner of the lock screen, you’re going to bring up Google’s Now voice interface instead of a dialer (cool eh?)
Now let’s take a look beyond all the fancy tools and such: How well does Android M as a package work? If you used the Android L preview as a daily driver right out of the gate last year, you got a lot of potential, unstable hurt. That’s not all the case this time: My G3 Ran as well as it did before I started screwing around with it! Of course, most of my apps were a little laggy, and I had a few cases of force quits more recently then not.
All in all, when using it I found that I was more shocked at how it feels, rather than how incomplete it feels, and after a few days of playing around with it, the feeling hasn’t faded in the slightest. I think we’re all going to be very pleasantly surprised by what Android M has to offer, and it’s definitely a sign of where the mobile industry is going.