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Android 6 Marshmallow update: when you'll get it and key features

While you're waiting to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you'd probably like to know more about the new features it incorporates. We've been playing around with the operating system, and here are some of our favorite features.

It's not a big design-based update like Lollipop was. Material Design is still intact here, and most of the focus is on new features and bug fixes.

Android Pay

Android Pay

Technically you can use Android Pay without the Marshmallow software, but having the latest OS is certainly a big help.

The update to Marshmallow brings with it fingerprint sensor functionality for the first time, so you don't even need to open up an app – you can just unlock your phone with your finger and place it on the contactless payment terminal.

Android Pay

Third-party apps are also supported within Marshmallow, making it much easier to buy stuff directly in your Android phone.

However, Android Pay is only available in the US and UK right now, and there are no clear plans for when it'll be rolling out around the rest of the world.

Android Marshmallow fingerprint support

We've seen some smartphone manufacturers already include fingerprint scanners in their devices, but with Android Marshmallow Google is standardizing support across the platform.

You can use a fingerprint scanner to unlock your device and pay for media from the Google Play Store, and the fingerprint scanning tech is also open to developers. That means devs can build it into their own applications, enabling you to sign into them without a password and pay for goods using Android Pay.

Android Marshmallow voice controls

Android 6.0 opens the way for improved voice control features thanks to the new Voice Interaction API, which will enable app developers to build voice control directly into their apps.

This means owners of Android Marshmallow devices will soon be able to speak to their apps – and the apps will even talk back.

One of the examples Google has detailed is the TuneIn app. A user can say "OK Google, listen to music on TuneIn", and the TuneIn app will not only load, but will then ask "What genre of music would you like to listen to?".

The user can then reply with their favourite genre. This natural way of speaking to our smartphone and the apps installed on it could revolutionize the way we interact with our devices.

Google has released a video to demonstrate the potential of Voice Interaction API, which you can view below.

Android Marshmallow battery life

Google has done a lot of work in the areas of battery life and power in Android Marshmallow, which will be music to many users' ears.

First up Google has developed the Doze feature. Your device will use motion sensors to detect when it hasn't been moved for an extended period of time, and will switch to a deeper sleep mode that consumes much less power.

Android Doze

Your device won't be completely useless in this mode, however, as Doze still allows for alarms to go off and key notifications to come through.

Google says it took two Nexus 9 tablets, one running Lollipop and the other Android Marshmallow, loaded the same apps and settings on both, and then tested the standby power drain on the two.

Apparently, the Nexus 9 running Android Marshmallow lasted up to two times longer than its Lollipop counterpart. It sounds impressive, and we're hoping it translates to noticeably better battery life for our devices.

Android Marshmallow Now on Tap

Android Marshmallow

With Android Marshmallow comes an intelligent new assistant feature called Now on Tap. An enhancement to Google Now, Now on Tap enables users to access information anywhere on their Android Marshmallow device, no matter what they're doing.

Users can simply tap and hold the home button to pull up a query without leaving the app or website they're in. If a friend emails you about seeing a movie, for example, Now on Tap could pull up info such as ratings or the trailer, or even enable you to buy tickets.

Android Marshmallow

You can also look at other apps on your phone, like Yelp or OpenTable, to book a dinner reservation or read reviews about a restaurant a friend has suggested.

And Now on Tap isn't just for basic info – you can also use voice searches for more specific queries, such as finding out who sings a particular song.

Android Marshmallow permissions

Android Marshmallow release date

App permissions are more intuitive in Marshmallow, giving users the option to allow or deny specific permissions within an app, rather than having to accept all permissions at once.

On Lollipop you have to accept permissions when you download an app, but with Android Marshmallow you won't be asked to grant access to features until you come to use them for the first time in the app.

Android Marshmallow

That means, for example, that you can give WhatsApp access to your camera, but not to your microphone if you wish. You can even revoke access for a particular permission by diving into the settings if you've accidentally allowed it.

More new features on Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Android Marshmallow

Google has simplified volume controls once again with the Android Marshmallow update, with more granular control over the various audio settings on your device, from ringtones and alarms to music playback and voice calls.

Word selection has been made easier too, with Android Marshmallow highlighting text more intuitively, and a floating menu offers controls such as cut, copy and paste at your fingertips, rather than in the toolbar at the top of the display.

Fire up the Chrome web browser on Android Marshmallow and you'll benefit from Chrome Custom Tabs, which enables websites to customize the toolbar and menu of the Chrome tab to provide dedicated buttons and options.

An example shown on stage at Google IO was Pinterest, which was able to add a 'Pin' button to the toolbar on certain pages.

App linking has been vastly improved in Android Marshmallow, with Google's software now more adept at working out whether a link should be opened in a browser or a compatible app. That means fewer 'Open with' pop up boxes flashing up on screen and generally getting in the way.

Now it's just a case of sitting back and waiting for your device to get the Android Marshmallow update.