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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.


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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[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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Bluetooth Low Energy Scanning By Apps Gets More Power Efficient

Bluetooth Low Energy is the current preferred method of communication between multiple accessories and Android devices. I can count 4 objects on my body right now that connect to my phone through BLE, not to mention the various accessories strewn across my desk and in other locations around me. Each of these has its own app on my phone that connects to the device every now and then and retrieves data, which, you can easily guess, has a toll on the battery.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Android Now Has A Native Flashlight API, Hopefully Negating The Need For OEM-Specific Solutions

While Android Lollipop added a flashlight toggle into Quick Settings, circumventing most third-party torch apps, the function was only accessible in the notification drop-down and as an on/off switch. If you wanted to use the flashlight with morse code, for signaling, or other patterns, you still had to use a separate application and developers of said apps didn't have any clear API to build their software on. They had to hack together solutions for various phones, relying on whatever way the different OEMs had created to access the camera's flash.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] A Swipe From The Left On The Lock Screen Now Launches Google Voice Search Instead Of The Dialer

There's a minor change to the way Android M implements the lock screen. Instead of the camera and phone shortcuts, you have camera and voice search. Voice Search is accessed by swiping from the lower left corner where you now have a mic icon.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] The Low-Power Doze Mode Can Be Turned On And Off On A Per-App Basis

One of Google's big projects for Android M is battery optimization. It's doing this by implementing a new Doze mode that puts unneeded apps into an ultra low-power state that keeps them from doing too much in the background. While this should all work smoothly on its own, it turns out you can go into the settings and fiddle with things.

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