Android M

Android M - or Android Muffin, if the rumours are to be believed - is headed to Android devices this year. And four major features have been announced that look set to really shake up the OS.

The problem is, half of these were released as part of iOS 8 back in September last year and it kind of feels like Google is playing catch up.

(Especially annoying, as it's usually the other way around).

Not to worry though, the other half is pure innovation and I've no doubt iOS will steal some of these new features at some point.

That'll make us Android fans feel as proud as a father who's just witnessed his daughter reach the bottom of Skiing Yeti Mountain.

Read on for everything you need to know about Android M's tasty new features.

Catching up to iOS

Permissions

You know how Android apps typically can use whatever functions and features on your phone it likes, without ever asking you if that's okay?

Well, that'll be a thing of the past soon, as in Android M, apps will have to ask your permission before they can access, say, you microphone or your camera.

It's a system that's been in iOS for some time, which is rather embarrassing, but it's definitely better late than never. No more nasty surprises from your apps and games.

Android Pay

Just like Apple Pay (I mean seriously, Google, couldn't you have at least given it a slightly different name?) with Android Pay you can use your phone to pay for things in shops or in partner apps.

It's unlikely that any of these shops will be in the UK or many countries outside of North America for the foreseeable future, though, so don't get too excited just yet.

Google is also ramping up its security measures to protect potential Android Pay disasters with…

Fingerprint Scanning

It's about time too. iOS will have had this for a year or more when this finally rolls round to Android. But at least it's on its way.

Not only will Android users be able to use their fingers to approve a payment with Android Pay, they'll also be able to use this when purchasing apps in Google Play and when unlocking their devices.

Developers will also be able to use this functionality within their apps and games so we may well see other useful and creative approaches to fingerprint scanning in the near future.

Pulling ahead

Doze


Now, let's talk about Android M's more innovative features. The first of which is Doze.

This is a feature that uses motion detection to smartly track when your Android device is dormant, at which point it shuts off background activity to improve battery life.

Before you get concerned that messages won't come through immediately when your device is dozing, developers can set these to high priority so your device will wake up as soon as you receive a message.

Google Now

Google Now is an awesome feature from Lollipop that's been tragically underused. With the introduction of Android M, Now looks finally set to perform as intended.

Rather than be confined to a single space on your home screen, Now will now (shush) be incorporated throughout your Android device.

What this means is, should a friend ask if you'd like to go the cinema, you can request that Now show you movie listings and times at your local cinema without having to leave the message and search yourself.

It will also let you set reminders when someone asks you to do something.