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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Dev Preview 2 Launcher Changes: Landscape Mode On Phones, App Drawer No Longer Broken Up By Letters, And Fast Scrolling In Widget Picker

We're playing around with the new Android M preview today, and it looks like there are several notable changes to the launcher (i.e. the Google app). The new app drawer is no longer broken up by letter and the widget picker has a fast scroll bar. If that's not good enough, you can view the whole launcher in landscape mode after toggling a setting. Cool, no?

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Left: old, Right: new

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["M"-azing] Android "M" Preview 2 Lets You Remove Icons From The Status Bar, Put Remaining Battery % Inside The Bar

The Android "M" Developer Preview's second release was released just a short while ago, and we've already discovered an outstanding new feature: the ability to individually enable or disable icons in the status bar. In fact, if the only icon you want is your battery and clock, you can have that now - everything else can be removed!


Who thought we'd ever see a status bar like that on bone-stock Android?

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Built-In Storage Manager Becomes Much More Usable

When you go to the Storage area of settings and tap on Misc. to see what's eating up your free space, Android tosses up a rather basic file manager. You can select top-level directories and delete them. That's it. This screen doesn't even let you dive in and see what files are lurking about.

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Pre-Android M

In Android M, Misc. changes to Other files. But that's just the beginning.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Toggle 'Charging Sound' On And Off In System Settings

Stock Android may not make a special noise when plugged in to charge over USB, but it does play a tone when your device comes in contact with a wireless charger. Until now though, it hasn't been possible to disable this sound without adjusting the system volume. In Android M that will apparently change, as a new toggle joins the lineup in "Other sounds."

Dial pad tones, screen lock sounds, touch sounds, and touch vibration entries are all still present.

This is a small change, but - even if they're buried in settings - sometimes adding more granular controls can be a good thing, and that seems to be one of the themes of Android M so far.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Tap To Wake Is Now A Setting You Can Tweak

"Tap to wake" is advertised as a feature. Instead of reaching for your power button every time you want to wake up your phone, you simply tap the screen a few times instead. It reduces hand contortion and puts less abuse on the physical button all at the same time.

But maybe you accidentally toggle it more often than you would like, and you would rather do away with the feature entirely than continue to deal with rampant pocket dials and general battery wastage. For you, Android M appears to have added a setting that lets you toggle this feature on and off.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Fastboot Fixes Notorious "missing system.img" Bug, Adds 'Flashing' Commands And Cleaner Syntax For reboot-bootloader

One of the tools any good flashaholic should be familiar with is fastboot. Like ADB, the help screen for fastboot received some changes with the preview release of Android M. The reboot command now offers a friendlier syntax to reach the bootloader, and there is a new set of "flashing" commands designed to prevent write operations from occurring when they aren't desired. There's also a fix for the "missing system.img" error that some people experienced after trying to use the flash-all script to install factory images.

Perhaps the most welcome change is the smallest. Fastboot's reboot command now accepts an optional bootloader parameter that can restart the device and immediately launch back into the bootloader screen.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] ADB Can Now Reboot Directly To Sideload Mode, Adds A Few Other Commands

The preview release of Android M has shown magnificent growth in the platform. There are new things for everybody to enjoy. While we're always excited to see new APIs and cool features – not to mention some pretty important bug fixes – we shouldn't overlook the interesting changes that have also come to the tools we use to work with Android and our devices on a different level. The preview SDK brings an updated version of ADB with a few new commands, including a handy new shortcut to reboot directly into Sideload Mode.

The new commands are visible on ADB's help text.

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[Update: Another New Feature!] The Stock Calculator App Has Been Overhauled, No Longer Uses Floating Point Arithmetic

We missed one good new feature - you can now just tap and drag your finger in the result field to adjust how many decimals the answer will be calculated to. That's awesome.

While the calculator in Android M may not look that much different on first inspection, it's actually almost completely new. According to several responses from Googlers on the Android issue tracker, a host of bugs and problems with the old calculator app should be solved in Android M.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Android Now Supports Native 4K Video Output With New API

While there have been third-party implementations of 4K video output on some Android-powered TV boxes or USB sticks in the past, Google hasn't provided a native 4K video solution on Android just yet - but that's changing in "M."

According to the Android Developers site, 4K display mode is one of the new APIs available to developers in Android's M-iest release. What exactly does that mean for you, though? Well, for one, it means that media player apps that are able to leverage your device's ability to decode 4K video content will finally have a way to push that content at its native resolution on a compatible 4K display.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Stricter APK Validation Now Actually Checks If All Of An APK's Files Are Present

While you might file this one under "really? We weren't doing this already?" if you're a security expert, Google has added stricter validation of APKs in Android "M" that should prevent what I guess you could call tinkering by omission.

Previously, APK validation checks looked at the SHA-1 signature for every file in said APK against those stored in the app's file, which is automatically generated during the signing process. If any of the files were modified, the APK would fail validation, and then fail to install or launch. This is an obvious security measure, designed to prevent people from loading up malicious software or otherwise doing nefarious things with legitimate APKs.

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