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Android 6.0 review: A small but significant bump for the world's dominant OS

Florence Ion | Oct. 13, 2015
All the big changes happened in Lollipop. Now it's Marshmallow's turn to show the world how useful and personal Android can be.

marshmallow
Credit: Florence Ion

Android 6.0 is kind of plain. I’m digging all the new features that Google added in Marshmallow, but most of what’s new is hidden deep inside the operating system.

That doesn’t mean Marshmallow isn’t a significant update. With Android, every new version is more complete than the last and, with more applications adhering to Material Design standards, it’s finally feeling like a cohesive operating system. 

It helps, too, that Google added in new contextual abilities with Now on Tap. Marshmallow even offers a bit more transparency about what’s going on under the hood of your phone or tablet. This is what Android should have been like years ago.

Let’s start with the Lock screen

marshmallow lockscreen
Marshmallow’s Lock screen now features bolder font and Quick settings in the Notification shade.

Google’s tried plenty of different things with the Lock screen over the years, but thankfully it eventually settled on the idea that it should remain simple and utilitarian.

Marshmallow’s Lock screen is exactly that: the clock now has bolder text, so you can more easily glance over to check the time, and the notification panel has been improved with drop-down access to the Quick Settings. The dialer shortcut in the lower left corner has been replaced with a Google Now shortcut, so you can start a voice search without unlocking your device. And if you set up a passcode or pattern unlock, there’s a handy Emergency button that peaks out underneath, in case you’re in an awful situation. 

I never was a fan of widgets and things clogging up the Lock screen, so I’m glad Google kept that away from Marshmallow. I imagine that the Lock screen is also a bit more quaint now to accommodate fingerprint scanning, so I’m curious to see how long it will take to unlock the screen with a phone that has that hardware feature enabled.

Improved copy and paste

marshmallow copypaste twitterapp
Marshmallow’s improved copy and paste mechanism, as seen inside the Twitter for Android app.

Android was one of the first mobile operating systems to implement the ability to copy and paste—I loved bragging about that fact to my iPhone-loving friends—and now, Google’s perfecting it.

In Marshmallow, Google fixed the copy and paste feature so that it’s easier to use. Tapping and holding is now more responsive and you won’t have to wait as long for the option window to pop up. Google also swapped out the confusing editing overlay with more obvious options that float over the selected text. And, if you have Google Translate installed, the copy and paste settings will offer the ability to instantly translate the text. This feature alone is going to make transcribing Romanian news stories so much easier for me.

 

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