New Android phones over the next year will get software that powers a new charger and fingerprint scanner, and offers better battery life, according to Google's announcements at its annual I/O conference in San Francisco on Thursday.
The software, Android M, isn't going to revolutionize your smartphone. Google has decided to focus "on quality" and improve "the core user experience." Although Android M will be faster and more stable, it's still getting a lot of handy new features.
“The central theme of M is improving the core user experience of Android. Our focus is on excellence," Google product chief Sundar Pichai said.
Here's how to download Android M and what to expect:
Longer Battery Life
Android M will have a feature called Doze, which essentially underpowers your phone -- it will still work, but less fast. Essentially, your phone will only sync and power up its processor when it needs to. According to Google, this feature will enable your device to last twice as long as previous Android devices.
Charge Other Devices From Your Phone
New Android devices will use a new charging port called USB-C, which is already the main connector on Apple's slim new laptop.
USB-C is a major improvement over the Micro-USB currently used on Android phones, but perhaps its coolest feature is that it will allow other devices to sip battery life from your phone.
So if you've got a pair of Bluetooth headphones -- or an Android Wear smartwatch -- that needs a top-up, new Android devices should be able to handle it. Let's just hope Doze really does double your battery life.
You Can Control What Data Apps See
Google has tweaked its app permissions process so you know exactly what apps are asking for which permissions. So if your camera app doesn't need to see your contacts, for instance, you can specifically forbid it.
Better Fingerprint Scanning
To go along with Google's new mobile wallet, Android Pay, Google's finally standardized the expectations for fingerprint scanners on Android. Expect more phones going forward to have fingerprint scanners for logging in, securing your data and buying things online.
Google Now Everywhere
Google's personal assistant, Google Now, is already Google's secret weapon, and it got a lot better with a few new features announced on Thursday.
One is called Tap, which puts Google Now into basically every app on your phone. Google's example: If you're using Spotify (and listening to Skrillex), you can pop up Google Now by holding down the home button, which will allow you to search across other apps installed on your device.
Google also promises a slew of tiny improvements too minor to get stage time, but for Android fans who use their phones every day, they could end up being lifechanging. According to Google, volume control, copy and paste, and lots of under-the-hood stuff got a tune-up as well.
When Can I Download Android M?
The features Google announced today will slowly trickle out to devices people use over the next year, although it could take a while. Only 9.7 percent of Android phones have Android L, which was announced last year at the same event.
If you've got a Google developer device like the Nexus 5, 6, 7, or 9, you'll be able to manually install the new OS today. Here's a link to the files. Later this year, Google will push the official update to the same Nexus devices. After that Android M will trickle down to other phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S6.