Google has formally unveiled Android M, its upcoming mobile-centric software release, at its regular Google I/O event, promising better power management, smarter software and new Internet of Things (IoT) spin-offs.
The biggest news of Google's I/O event was that an Android spin-off operating system dubbed Brillo would be launching later this year as a developer preview. Built for the Internet of Things (IoT) with particular focus on smart home products - a market Google entered when it acquired the makers of the popular Nest learning thermostat - Brillo will be followed by Weave, a communications layer designed to tie Android smartphones and tablets to Brillo devices through either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections.
For those not interested in internet-connected fridges or fire alarms, Google announced Android M as the successor to Android Lollipop. Currently missing the dessert-themed moniker it will receive at release, Android M promises numerous improvements over the current release including support for USB Type-C and charging performance up to three times that of the current micro-USB connector. USB Type-C Android M handsets will also, Google claimed, be able to act as a host or slave device for data transfer to any other USB Type-C system and even sacrifice their own battery life to charge connected hardware.
Android M will also bring an improved permissions system, allowing apps built around the new API to request permissions as and when they require them - and allowing the user to accept or deny the request as they deem appropriate. The new system, however, will only be available to newly-built or updated apps; existing software will continue to operate under the old permissions system, to ensure backwards compatibility.
A successor to Google's Wallet system, dubbed Android Pay, will launch alongside Android M but offer compatibility back to Android KitKat. Devices with fingerprint sensors will be able to pay for goods using biometric identification on contactless payment terminals by emulating an NFC payment card, although this feature will initially be exclusive to the US. Google Now is also to receive an overhaul, receiving context processing capabilities dubbed 'Now on Tap' which allows in-app usage - asking Google Play Music what the current track is called, for example.
More information is available on the official event website