Top Features of Android M

Google unveiled Android M at its Google I/O back in May, and now after two rounds of preview, here's some of my favourite features and the software additions (or enhancements) I would like to see in the mobile operating system -

Android Lollipop
File Manager - Google, like Apple, may not have been vocal about having a file manager app on its Nexus smartphones, but with Android M, you at least have an option to explore and manage your internal storage through an option in the Settings Menu.

Vertical App Drawer and Landscape Mode - That you no longer have to shift between portrait and landscape modes when shuffling between apps is one cosmetic but important change I'm really happy about. Update: Landscape mode is no longer supported in Android M.

Customisable Status Bar and Quick Settings - Want to declutter your status bar? Android M lets you to individually enable or disable icons for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Cellular data, Airplane mode and just about everything else, save for battery and clock. You can even display battery percentage inside the bar now.

Easy Word Selection and Floating Clipboard Toolbar - This feature is admittedly a little iOS'ey, but one that's long overdue, for it always confuses me as to what those icons do (unless I do a long press).

Granular Permissions - Fine-tuned permissions on a per-app basis was yet another area where iOS shined, and I'm frankly surprised it took Google this long to add the feature. Thank God for making it happen!

Mobile Deep Linking - Google showed off support for third-party apps for its contextual personal assistant Now, but in addition to that, app developers can now take advantage of built-in support for deep linking so that clicking on a link from your Android device will straight open it on the specific app without having to prompt user to choose between, say, Chrome and Twitter app if you have tapped on a Twitter URL.

Now On Tap - Google Now is hands down one of the best contextual personal assistants, dishing you information about places around you, the time it takes to go back home, in general helping you remind stuff, track packages and so on, but that doesn't mean there isn't any scope for further improvements. The newly unveiled Now On Tap goes one step further, making it the core of Android (search) experience that enables you to do what you want to do without much jumping and switching between apps. All it takes is a long press of the home button from anywhere on the phone.

Other honourable mentions - Low power mode (called Doze) to reduce battery drain, uninstall apps from homescreen, separate volume controls for alarm, ringtones and media playback, a simplified share menu instead of a vertical scrollable list (like the ones on YouTube and Google Photos), a possible multi-window modeGoogle Settings moved under System Settings, and support for fingerprint sensors and USB Type-C.

What I Want - Weeks after my Nexus 6 purchase, I wrote my thoughts on the phone and the operating system, and while two major complaints I had with Lollipop back then have been alleviated now with the advent of Android M, I still would love to see the following happening -
  • A system-wide dictionary - If Google can incorporate an offline dictionary into Google Play Books, why not make it across the board?
  • Fix the (damn!) inconsistent navigation drawer - Google's own apps follow different navigation drawer guidelines, it pains me to see such inconsistencies even after an year.
  • Offline reading list in Chrome - I used Safari's Reading List feature on my iPhone 5s so much that I'm badly missing it in Chrome.
  • Dark mode - The system-wide white theme is all good, but sometimes it can give you an eyeful when one is in a dark room. A dark theme, just like on the Google Keyboard, would be great.
  • Integrate Google Goggles into its Camera app - A no-brainer, given that Goggles has been stuck in limbo for quite some time.
  • Likewise, integrate News & Weather and Play Newsstand apps - I know Google's strategy is to make two of everything and wait and watch as to what sticks and kill the other, but seriously I don't want two news apps on my phone.
  • More, integrate Field Trip into Maps (or Google Now) - I really like the Field Trip app, which gives useful info about various points of interest based on your current location, and would love to see it merged with Maps or even Google Now for that matter.