Android Marshmallow 6.0 under the spotlight: a review

It’s official: at Tesco Mobile, we love Android Marshmallow! Google’s latest update to the Android OS has been rolling out since October, and with a few months of bug-fixes, tweaks and thorough play-throughs under its belt, we’re happy to say that the 6.0 Marshmallow OS is a significant improvement on previous versions. While there’s not much that’s groundbreakingly different from Android Lollipop, Google has done what they do best, taking on user and developer feedback, bringing some important aspects of the OS up to scratch and introducing some nifty native features.

Here’s the main things you need to know:

Android Marshmallow 6.0: Main Features

Settings shortcuts now have images

Where previously you had to guess where your Settings shortcut would take you, now, Marshmallow will display a little icon inside the standard “Settings” cog to let you know where you’re going. The images used are easily recognisable, including a small battery for battery-related settings, and a sun symbol for Display Settings.

App Permissions become use-related

We’re all familiar with the wall of text that greets you when you install an app for the first time. It’s off-putting, confusing, and many mobile users simply ignore the contents and hunt for the “Accept” button. Marshmallow aims to address this by tweaking app permissions to make them use-based: for example, the first time you need to access the camera with an app, you’ll be asked permission at that time for that specific usage. This means you’ll never be bugged again to approve features you’re never going to use. Handy (and safer too!).

Memory Manager lets you see the most memory-hungry apps

A major complaint with Android Lollipop was that its RAM-hogging nature paved the way for hundreds of performance-related problems in phones that weren’t at the very cutting edge, or phones with less than anticipated RAM. This made it particularly unfriendly for users who’d had their phones for a few years, but Marshmallow has introduced a Memory Manager feature in the Settings to keep on top of this.

Now, it’s not perfect, and you can’t control how much RAM various apps are allowed, but it means you can view how much memory each of your apps has used over various time periods (including 3, 6, and 24 hour intervals). This will be useful for troubleshooting apps that perform poorly on older phones, but unfortunately you’ll still need to try to the old delete-and-reinstall for any apps that are behaving unnaturally.

The new vertical App Drawer allows for easy-scrolling

Perhaps the first obvious GUI difference from Android Lollipop is the App Drawer. Instead of horizontally flicking through pages of apps (which gets annoying if, like we do, you download loads of apps) Android Marshmallow has them organised vertically, with a handy scroll-bar that lets you skip through the alphabet.

The more you use Marshmallow, it’ll also begin to determine which apps you use most, and store them in a special area at the top of the app drawer. This means you can easily access the apps you use on a daily basis without creating shortcuts on the home screen – perfect for people who like tidy wallpapers.

Now while you doze, Android Marshmallow Dozes too

Remember how we mentioned Marshmallow focuses on conserving and optimising battery and standby usage? Perhaps the most exciting feature of the new OS is the new Doze system. Without going into too much detail, it’s basically a highly sophisticated battery management procedure that recognises when you’re no longer using your phone but the phone is still switched on. Doze helps reduce the amount of battery your phone will use when in standby, potentially allowing your phone to last for up to two weeks in standby mode – something we’ve not really seen in mobile phones since the pre-smartphone era!

Marshmallow 6.0.1 Now Available!

Android users rejoice – Marshmallow 6.0.1 is now rolling out to the majority of handsets, including a range of Nexus and Samsung Galaxy models! If you haven’t received a notification about the latest Marshmallow update yet, you can check in your phone’s settings if it is available on your device. All you have to do is go to About Phone > System Updates > Check for update.

As well as the host of features listed above, Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 comes with 200 new emojis, which will make messaging a whole lot more fun. Many of the emojis added have already been available on iOS and Windows 10 for a while now, so faithful Android users no longer have to feel left out. The Marshmallow 6.0.1 update also brings with it the ability to launch the camera by double-tapping the power button – a feature that Nexus 5X and 6P models already had. Just be careful you don’t put your phone to sleep instead…