Welcome to the Android 6.0 Marshmallow era

Android 6.0 Marshmallow today is official. Or, rather, it's the start of being official, as these things don't actually happen all at once. In fact, the M era started back at the Google I/O developer conference in late May. And we don't yet have it all.

So here's what you need to know about the next major version of our favorite operating system. This is Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

This is great! Where can I download Android 6.0 Marshmallow?!?!?

Android 6.0 Marshmallow preview

You can't! Sort of. While we have a name and a new version number and a new SDK, Google hasn't yet made the source code available. And technically that's what both manufacturers and the custom-ROM crowd need to make proper builds for our phones. That said, we'll definitely start to see ROMs cobbled together from SDK parts. That's par for the course.

More official is that we've got a third and final developer preview that can be flashed to the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player. It's not 100 percent of what you'll get when the finished version of Marshmallow is released, but it's closer than anything we've had before.

OK, fine. So when will I get Marshmallow? (And will my phone get it?)

Depends on which phone you have. Google's Nexus phones should be the first to be updated. In addition to the devices that have been a part of the developer preview, expect at least the Nexus 7 (2013) to see an update, and possibly the 2012 model as well. Throw the Nexus 10 tablet and Nexus 4 phone into the "maybe" list, too.

As for when we'll see source code drop and updates begin? We don't actually know. Remember that we're expecting at least one (and very likely two) new Nexus phone this year. And if we had to guess, we'd be willing to put a little money on it being a little sooner than last year. Before October wouldn't surprise us at all at this point, but that's still just a guess.

Have some other phone? It'll take longer. Exactly how long is a big of a mystery. Some manufacturers like to impose 90-day deadlines on themselves, which probably will mean something toward the end of the year, if not later. Updates are hard, and it's a slow process. And there's upwards of a billion Android devices out there. Put it this way — only 18 percent of all active devices are on Android 5.x Lollipop, which was released about 10 months ago.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Jeez. OK. So what is it, exactly, that I'll have to look forward to in Marshmallow?

That depends! (Welcome to the wonderful world of Android!) If you didn't get the gist by now, Android manufacturers still do whatever the hell they want (more or less — and Google's been reining them in a little bit) with their phones. And they also go above and beyond what's in the base Android code. But Google itself has also adopted a good number of features that have until now been custom jobs, so we'll see more features on more phones.

Here's the short version, though:

  • Permissions are getting a huge revamp. The technical term is "runtime permissions," and it means that instead of just accepting every permission an app declares at the time you install it you'll now be able to pick and choose what things an application has access to. Don't want, say, Facebook to see your internal contacts? Just turn that permission off! That's oversimplified, of course. You can learn more about it here.
  • Google Now on Tap will give Google — with your permission, of course — even more insight into your life. If you're, say, texting someone about dinner plans at some hot new restaurant, a quick press of the home button will bring up more information about that restaurant. No more having to hop out of one app and into another to look up information. This is going to be big.
  • Android Pay will finally become a thing, bringing the same sort of contactless payments you know from Apple Pay and the newer Samsung Pay. This will be built into the system and will also make use of ...
  • Native fingerprint authorization will now be built into the Android source code. That'll allow more manufacturers to make use of it — and hopefully will make it even better than it's already become. Samsung and Huawei are the longtime fingerprint users for Android, but HTC, OnePlus and, soon, LG have or will make use of it.
  • Automatic app data backups will occur by default. That means no more losing your spot in a game if you switch devices. They'll happen once a day, when you're not using your phone and only when you're connected to Wifi.
  • Smarter app links so you won't have to deal with that clunky "do you want to open this thing in this other app* dialog as much.
  • Plus, more tweaks for better battery life, tons of stuff for developers, and a more consistent user experience. (Again, that last one is subject to being blown up by the manufacturers.)

Stay tuned for a lot more, of course. For more, be sure to check out our Android Marshmallow forums!

Phil Nickinson
  • Can we have "mute" back?
  • http://www.droid-life.com/2015/06/01/android-m-feature-be-gone-terrible-...
  • It's back a little better than lollipop but still not as cut and dry as the old, easy to understand, silent mode. That's not the Google way.
  • Ah, the Google way... 1. Release a feature or service, it'll have bugs and flaws, but what new software doesn't? 2. Refine it to the point of near perfection. 3. Completely change it in every way, preferably breaking as much functionality as possible and ruining the user experience. 4. Go to 1. Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • true, but you forgot to add that it won't be pushed to any current phones, just new
  • I know right? What a terrible decision that was on Google's part
  • OnePlus did it the best with a physical switch. Props to them for that.
  • I agree. One thing I miss from my iPhone. I wish more Android OEMs would utilize them. Forget to turn your phone down for a meeting? Just reach in your pocket and turn down with a physical switch, without pulling your phone out.
  • That's the one thing I miss about my iPhone as well, the silent switch. I hope Android OEMs including Google change this in the future. Posted via the Android Central App on my Moto G 4G 2nd Gen
  • Those mute switches are patented by Palm, maybe that's why Android manufactureres are reluctant to adopt it? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good thing they didn't patent volume up/down or power buttons. #stupidpatents
  • I have "mute" on my S6. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You have -- GASP! -- "evil" TouchWiz to thank for that!
  • I wasn't aware of the auto app data backup! That's great news! So cool seeing so many root features of yesteryear making their way to mainstream android builds! Especially since it's getting harder and harder to root on phones w locked bootloaders! Hoping Mallo comes to Verizon's note 4!
  • They should just have phones go back to Froyo and Honeycomb. Posted on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 on the AT&T Network.
  • lolwut
  • He hit his head I wonder if illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup
  • As far as I know, Honeycomb isn't a version of Android that can be used on a phone.
  • Will the automatic app updates be cross device? So can i stop playing a game on my Moto X and switch over to my Nvidia Shield tablet and load the game with the backed up data?
  • Once a day, on WiFi, when you aren't using your device. LG G2, still burning through high end games.
    (The Sprint Lover)
  • No. "When the user transitions to a new device, or uninstalls and reinstalls the backed up app, a restore operation copies the backed up data into the newly installed app’s data directory." Source: https://developer.android.com/preview/backup/index.html Also, backups only happen every 24 hours, normally. HOWEVER, Google Play Games has offered the exact functionality you're asking for for some time. Ask the dev of whatever game you're interested in to implement it: https://developers.google.com/games/services/common/concepts/savedgames
  • Play games backup only works if you're willing to submit to the worthless experiment the goog tried to force on users... Google minus Posted via the Android Central App
  • Seems to be worth something if it gets you game save synchronization. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Although I'd be thrilled, I don't expect the Nexus 7 (2012) tp get Marshmallow.
    Three years and all that...
  • If you have a Nexus 7 (2012) and you battery still holds up and that thing actually runs then you should play the lottery.
  • My kids still use mine daily. It works fine. I have it running KitKat though which may be why it still runs pretty well. It does feel slow at times but once you are in an app it is fine.
  • Mine is amazing after I uninstalled Facebook and FB Messenger. It was unusable before but battery and speed are fine now. (Gonna run get a ticket, cause I normally don't have good luck)
  • Mine works fine.. Sluggish, but fine.. It's now a Pandora /weather /media center for the kitchen. I put it on a little stand. People comment on it all the time. It looks awesome
  • I have one with 5.1.1 installed and it's running buttery smooth!! (I don't have many apps installed though)
  • My friend's still works just fine. I'm sure the battery life has taken a hit in its old age, but he says he has no intention of upgrading it at this point. Both Nexus 7 models have held up pretty damn impressively.
  • You should replace it with a nexus 9
  • My grandmas nexus 7 2012 is on lollipop and is holding up just fine. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's because Google got 5.1.1 right. It's what LP should've been to begin with. I wish it were that easy though. Then again, the first official version of marshmallow will most likely be the smoothest, most efficient version of Android ever if the previews are any indication
  • Hopefully this will be released in a month or 2 for the s6 edge. My wife z3 only got lollipop 2-3 months ago lol. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Don't hope for it, Samsung wil start developing Marshmallow for the S7 first when it comes out. Posted via the Note 4.
  • Lollipop came out for the S5 before the S6 was released. There is no reason to think Marshmallow will be any different. Depending on your carrier it should come out in the first couple months of '16 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Hush, you will ruin the bs that Samsung haters like to throw around. Facts do not concern them Posted via the Android Central App
  • Pot, kettle, black. Posted via the Android Central App
  • ?
  • What about Samsung's update history for the past couple of years makes you think this?
  • No Samsung phones will see M until next year most likely.
  • Problem is even though Samsung brings M, you can not recognize it. Look at N4, I got L couple of months ago and it looks so different to stock.
  • Performance and stability is far more important than aesthetics IMO
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Will not argue with that in general as long as it is done right, but my N4 is much slower and erratic (GPS for example) now with 5.0 upgrade.
  • That's because 5.0.1 is garbage, and even worse with touchwiz. That phone is in dire need of 5.1.1
  • amen
  • Depends on release for the final code. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Didnt they have Lollipop for the S5 before everyone else last year? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Depending on the carrier, it was mixed in with the m8. They were both at the same time Posted via the Android Central App
  • I thought the 2014 Moto G beat everyone, including Google. Posted from my Asus ZenFone 2.
  • The unlocked did, yes. Also I think the reference was towards flagship phones, but essentially you are correct Posted via the Android Central App
  • I hope Doze makes a noticeable impact. Posted via the Android Central App
  • In the previews Doze has been great on both my N5 and N9 as a test I fully charged my N5 up and then let it sit on my desk and the best it did was 6 days before it was down to 1%, I was periodically picking it up to check the charge and have it pull in notifications. I have been averaging 2.5 days on a charge with normal use.
  • I hope so. My iPad can go a week and still be at 100% if I haven't used it. My Nexus tablet needs a charge every third day regardless of whether or not I use it.
  • My 9 doesn't. Leave it right next to the bed and hardly any loss of power. Great tablet after the updates. Posted via the ACA on NEXUS 6
  • according to several people in the Nexus 2015 forums, Doze has been killing it. sounds like Google finally got it right. I have high hopes for M.
  • I just want Google to copy what OnePlus did and put in a bloody Dark Theme for the OS. And I mean BLACK not that greying crap they currently have in the notification tray and on the preview. As for when you'll get it...well, if you have a Sony phone, I'd wager March/April 2016 for the Z5, and from there on.
  • Honestly, I'd take the dark mode they had in preview 1. I doubt it will happen though. Someone at google who gets to make decisions likes staring at blindingly bright screens for some reason.
  • It is a bit odd that they don't offer something like that. Then again, stock is pretty bare bones. One look at the quick settings (or lack there of) on LP says it all. I still can't believe they won't even put an adaptive brightness toggle next to the brightness slider. That's just stupid
  • or build in CM theme manager! I'd love to use all the great themes out there on the play store, XDA, etc.
  • Yup!!!!!!!
  • "Battery life improvements" are always part of a new OS. But battery life has always been the same, with al those software and hardware improvements to use less power, I still have to charge my phone every single night. And I probably will for another 5 to 10 years. Posted via the Note 4.
  • Well that's subjective to use and what you're running in the background and if you're factory resetting after huge updates to avoid cross confliction. Also hardware your battery and how well it's designed since some batteries start losing performance after a couple months. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This brings "Doze" though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • hearing good things about Doze. phones rely on more power, so the fact that you've experienced the same battery life, proves they've been making progress. the problem is the OEMs. instead of taking advantage of the efficiency, they make phones unnecessarily thin with smaller batteries. that said, I agree that battery technology in general hasn't progressed as quick as I would've thought 5 years ago.
  • They really are focusing on thinness too much. Apple and Samsung anyway
  • Yes bring it on Posted via the ACA on NEXUS 6
  • I just hope it's a smoother transition than kit kat to lollipop was. I still have nightmares from when my note 4 got crippled by lollipop. Ugh.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • it will be. it'll be more of an improvement then a complete overhaul. kinda like what an iPhone 5s is to a 5
  • Galaxy S6 in February 2016 ...
  • or the rumored M10 ... http://www.phonearena.com/news/Complete-specs-leak-for-the-HTC-O2-6-inch...
  • Great, more "battery life improvements" that will give manufacturers motivation to shrink battery capacity on future models. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "Automatic app data backups will occur by default. That means no more losing your spot in a game if you switch devices. They'll happen once a day, when you're not using your phone and only when you're connected to Wifi." This should have happened years ago, no excuse.
  • Well. Developers have to be on board and it might of been an issue a couple years back due to implementation etc etc. Posted via the Android Central App
  • This to infinity Only reason I have missed my iPhone was restoring it to a saved backup and not missing a beat. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I've been using Moto for my last few phones and I've really wanted to see split screen come to Stock... Kinda bummed I haven't heard anything about it.
  • Me too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • My Nexus 6 has Cyanogenmod on it currently. If I install Android M (Developer 3 edition), will I lose root? I haven't done anything like this before, and don't want to lose root. Any help pretty please. :-)
  • Of course you will lose root, you are basically factory resetting your device if you install the developer preview. You can probably get root again unless Google patched the security holes that allowed it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thanks bleached!
  • "Automatic app data backups will occur by default. That means no more losing your spot in a game if you switch devices. They'll happen once a day, when you're not using your phone and only when you're connected to Wifi." Holy crap!!! I did a full image restore from Preview 2 to the new Preview 3 on my Nexus 5 and once all of my apps were back up and running, I realized that I forgot to take a backup of some of my games. So I launched one and to my dismay, all of my progress was there... Whaaattt??!?!? I thought maybe the game saves resided in cache that wasn't wiped or something... But then I saw you write this. So. Psyched. If this works this well reliably.
  • Device backup and multi device sync (phone and tablet) is the best justification for Google Drive... Sadly marshmallow probably won't have this fully implemented. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why do you think Nexus 7 (2013) will see Marshmallow? It's not included in the dev preview and it's outside the 2-year window for major updates that Google defined here: http://officialandroid.blogspot.com/2015/08/an-update-to-nexus-devices.html Similarly Nexus 4 and 10 are also outside that 2-year window for major updates and aren't included in the dev preview. I think those two things were subtle hints from Google that these devices won't see Marshmallow.
  • There will be guaranteed updates for two years after a Nexus device is released. That's not to say there won't be any updates after that period. They're just not guaranteed. The Nexus 7 2013, the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10 can all handle the 6.0 update so i don't see why Google would abandon those products.
  • Yeah as long as it tests out well I'm not sure why they wouldn't update it. N7 2013 was a pretty successful product too.
  • I think the 2013 will, but maybe I'm too optimistic. Just my opinion. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Being basically a bug fix for Lollipop, I bet all devices with 5.0 will get Marshmallow. It will probably be the last update for the Nexus 7s and 4. Posted via the Android Central App
  • "Automatic app data backups will occur by default." That's not entirely true. It is enabled for all apps running on the dev preview. But for an app to be backed-up in the final version of Marshmallow, it needs to target SDK version 23. Source: http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2015/07/auto-backup-for-apps-made...
  • Right. That's what I meant. Posted via the Android Central App
  • And what about native Multi Window support? It won't be ready/available again?
  • Wasn't ever really in there in the first place. Don't expect it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can I have a dark theme? Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • Updates are reason #1 why it's nice to be on Motorola. My 2013 G has 5.0.2. Not many high end phones from 2013 have Lollipop.
  • Name a high end phone that doesn't? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm still on 5.0.2 on my Moto G 4G 2014 and the Moto G 2013 already has the 5.1.1 update I think. Motorola are probably better than the likes of Samsung and LG with updates but not Google and that is one of the reasons why I'm getting a Nexus 6 instead as I'll get Android 6.0 Marshmallow first. Posted via the Android Central App on my Moto G 4G 2nd Gen
  • Are they going to be adding USB Mass storage?
    If not, I wont be upgrading if they are keeping this MTP bullcrap.
  • What are you using/running right now that still has "USB Mass Storage"??
  • It was a much better method of transferring files than this idiotic mtp garbage. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It absolutely was! I completely agree - I miss it! That's why I wanna know what he's using!!
  • I used to use a Samsung Captivate but sadly the screen took a crap and I got a Samsung S3 To replace. The ability of mass storage would make my life easier. I had to buy a USB OTG cable to transfer videos from my phone to the computer because with MTP you can only do one file at a time and it takes forever.
  • Yeah - my S3 was the last phone I had that did it. I've since been using Zoner Photo Studio - you can get a completely free version, and it's the only one I've been able to find that handles importing from my Nexus 5 (Android's MTP mode) and my wife's iPhone 5s properly. All the video formats, sorted by date taken, photos rotated properly. That's all I want, but nobody seems to get it right - INCLUDING GOOGLE'S PICASA. https://free.zoner.com/
  • mtp is certainly much faster now with my current hardware than when it first arrived. what exactly do you mean one file at a time? I often select groups of files and transfer them over mtp.
  • Hope it's kind to the N7 2013. I really really like it now on 5.1.1.
  • Nothing worth getting excited over. Posted via the Android Central App
  • auto backup and permissions are noteworthy. not my cup of tea but pay is huge. and if doze is half as good as advertised it'll significantly improve standby. I respect your opinion and not trying to convince anybody otherwise, but I think those are 4 of the better upgrades we've seen in quite some time. M is a subtle but considerable upgrade.
  • FINALLY APP DATA BACKUP geez it took them this long to figure out that we need that? I have had to start over on way too many games due to FDRing my phone Posted via the Android Central App
  • What about the gpe devices ?? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I heard the the backup/restore feature on Android currently isn't as good as iOS which I was with before I switched to Android. I'll find whether it proves to be true when I get my Nexus 6 next month. Posted via the Android Central App on my Moto G 4G 2nd Gen
  • Eh should have been called 5.2 tbh Posted via the Android Central App
  • Meh, nothing to see here. I'm sure it will probably be an over-engineered mess just like Lollipop though. :( Google, ever heard of "Less is more."?
  • Yes! Finally someone gets it! Less is so much more. Wait....Is your Avatar pic a Samsung device?
  • Kinda different that they're deciding to jump to 6.0 from 5.1.1. Anyways- I don't really care. Just care about that Nexus lineup and full on, unhindered by OEM skins and their "mostly" stupid applications, Marshmallow. Release those bad boys.
  • Installed Marshmallow preview on my N5 and shocked at how much better batter life(typically got 2 hours SOT prior, getting little over 3 now), and how polished it is.
  • Still my mobile galaxy A7 dint get lollipop... in what the hell world they are going to release an other update.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • At least they called Lollipop the right name since it sucks ;) I recall the same fanfare for Lollipop too, so will be nice if M warrants the fanfare.
  • The jump from 4.x to 6.x was pretty quick. Looks like Google figured out 5.x was crap. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I like Lollipop plenty well... ...still, that's not to say it doesn't have a few serious flaws. From the sounds of things preliminarily, 6 should fix most/all of them. So bring it on....and bring it to my tired old Galaxy Note 3 too pleez! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Too much for a Galaxy Note 3 rocker on Sprint to hope for without a root canal? Posted via the Android Central App
  • How can they say it's official when it hasn't been released to the masses yet? Posted via Android Central App on my GALAXY Note | PRO
  • Can't wait use the new android and new developer options...
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgpAZ67ih-k
  • I was hit with an automatic reboot that deleted all the Google Play apps on my Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5. I also lost access to my home wifi with Optimum, getting "Incorrect password" or "Authentication error occurred" messages. I changed my password for Optimum no avail. Optimum Support directed me to the network map, which indicated there is a separate password for the router. Using that, I was able to restore wifi access. Now I can start figuring out all the new stuff.