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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Native Bluetooth Stylus Support Is Here

Wireless styli have generally been relegated to the Windows and iOS world, but now that more and more connected accessories are using Bluetooth, there are fewer reasons than ever for tools like these not to be universal. With Android "M," Google is introducing native support for Bluetooth styluses. Developers are, of course, getting APIs to interact with these devices, and that's where we're getting our information - the API overview for M.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] The Notification Shade Will Now Drop Down Closer To Where You Touch On Tablets

There was a lot of backlash when Google did away with the dual notification/quick settings trays on large screen devices (which happened with Lollipop). Now it looks like the company is taking a slightly different approach with the notification shade on tablets - in the M release it has three different positions (left, center, right) and will drop down closest to wherever you actually swipe.

Screenshot_20150528-164552 Screenshot_20150528-164602 Screenshot_20150528-164544

According to Liam, who installed M on his Nexus 9, this is actually kind of jarring since there's no visual indicator as to where the shade will actually show up.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] The Stock Keyboard Now Has A Split-Screen Mode On Larger Devices

There are features both big and small found in Android M, and most still seem to be pretty useful all around. This one is a somewhat small feature found in M, but that doesn't take away from how massively helpful it actually is - especially for those who type on their tablet often.

Screenshot_20150529-012842

Thanks for the screenshot, Duncan Adkins.

The stock keyboard in the M build now features a split-screen mode that shifts the keys off to either side, at least when the device is in landscape mode.

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Google Teases Hands Free, The Public Name For "Plaso," Yet Another Android-Based Mobile Payment System

Are you unexcited about Android Pay? Not liking your Wallet Card? Maybe you just want another Google payment platform... because? Then I've got great news: Google Hands Free will be a thing at some point later this year.

How's it work? I've got no idea, because Google doesn't actually tell us. Well, actually, we sort of do know, because Hands Free leaked as Plaso over three months ago.

The idea here is similar to that of the now-defunct Square Wallet, which used a combination of proximity detection and a picture of your face to allow you to buy stuff without ever having to pull out a credit card, phone, or even your ID.

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Smart Lock Passwords Is Now Going Live On Pre-Android M Devices, Web Interface Is Active Too

One of the relatively hidden treasures of yesterday's I/O announcements and Android M preview release was Smart Lock Passwords, which takes credentials you've signed in with on Chrome or for Android apps and automatically signs you in on those platforms in the future. At launch, there are not many app partners, but developers need only use a now-public API to add support. Today, Lollipop users with relatively recent Google Play Services are finding the new feature enabled on their devices as well.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] The New Do Not Disturb Includes Custom Rules And A Repeat Caller Exception

We already went over the gist of Android M's Do Not Disturb mode, but this isn't just a re-branding of priority interruptions. There are some cool new features in the settings that make DND on Android M quite appealing. It's easier to make DND work for your schedule without a ton of fiddling around.

Screenshot_20150528-145310 Screenshot_20150528-145315 Screenshot_20150528-145547

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Priority Interruption Mode Is Now Do Not Disturb (Again)

You might remember that the L preview last year introduced a Do Not Disturb mode to Android, but you don't have that exact feature in Lollipop. By the time it was done, this feature became the somewhat more convoluted Priority/None settings. In the M preview it's called Do Not Disturb again, and the basic functionality is a little simpler.

2015-05-29 10.20.24 2015-05-29 10.20.50 2015-05-29 10.21.29

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Multi-window (Well, Kind Of)

Late last year, we took an early look at a then-rumored feature that we expected to see in an upcoming build of Android: Multi-window. We've heard rumors and whatnot since then, but no physical implementation had been spotted. Now, Multi-window is a real thing, it's part of M, and you can try it today (if you're willing to mod your device a little bit).

mw wm2

Thanks to Andrew and Josh for the screenshots

It's worth mentioning that this is still very early in its development and is quite buggy. But the idea is there - you can run two things on the screen at one time.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] You Can Now Disable Peeking, AKA Heads-Up Notifications, On A Per App Basis

Lollipop 5.0 introduced sliding heads-up notifications instead of the scrolling status bar ticker that had been used on all Android versions prior. They showed up on top of your current screen for a few seconds, then went back into the notification tray. However, the function still seemed quite unfinished, with notifications blocking everything underneath them unless you completely got rid of them or waited for them to disappear. Lollipop 5.1 made it possible to dismiss notifications with a swipe up, sending them back to the tray so you can check them later.

android-m-app-notification-peeking

Android M makes this functionality optional, and that's one very welcome change. Each app's settings page has an "App notifications" screen where you can block all notifications from the selected app, treat them as priority, and "Allow peeking." The latter enables the heads-up sliding notifications on top of other apps.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Bluetooth Scanning Joins WiFi To Improve Location Accuracy

With Android 4.3, Android implemented the idea of always-on WiFi where, even if you had Wi-Fi toggled off, the device and apps could still scan for WiFi networks to improve the location's accuracy. Along with using network triangulation, it's another way of getting your current position as quickly as possible without having to rely too much on GPS signals.

android-m-bluetooth-scanning-location

Android M is taking the idea further, adding Bluetooth scanning to the equation. Under the Location settings on M, you'll find a Scanning option in the menu, where both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning can be toggled on and off. When enabled, Bluetooth scanning will presumably look for BLE devices like beacons to get a quicker location fix.

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