Android 6.0 Marshmallow has finally been released, but right now it’s only available on a handful of devices. It’ll make its way to other flagships in the coming weeks, but as we know from experience, it might take a while to reach everybody. No worries: here’s how to get Android Marshmallow features on your phone right now.
Android Marshmallow feature: manage app permissionsHave you been happily clicking OK to every app’s permissions list and now worry they’re sending your personal information to God knows where? Android Marshmallow enables you to allow or deny permission retrospectively, so you’re not stuck with the decisions you make when you first download the app. It’s very useful but it isn’t part of Android Lollipop. If you have a rooted device, however, the excellent XPrivacy can bring the same features to your mobile or tablet today.
[ROOT] X Privacy Installer
Android Marshmallow feature: Chrome Custom TabsUntil Android 6.0 Marshmallow, clicking on a link within an application – such as a link you’ve been sent on WhatsApp or in an email – will automatically open the link in your default browser. And that’s fine, but a full browser has a hefty overhead that you don’t always want when you’re just investigating what the link is.
Chrome Custom Tabs in Marshmallow will address that by loading a stripped-back subset of Chrome that uses fewer system resources than the full Chrome browser. You can’t add it to Lollipop, but installing the ultra-light Link Bubble browser and making it the default will do much the same – no rooting required. What Link Bubble does is display a link in a little bubble, loading it in the background while you get on with what you’re doing.
Link Bubble Browser
Android Marshmallow feature: Smart LinkSticking with the subject of navigation, Smart Link is one of those little features in Marshmallow that you’ll soon wonder how you managed without. Instead of opening every kind of link in the web browser, Smart Link opens them in the appropriate app – so, for example, a link to a tweet opens in your Twitter app without opening the browser or asking you what app you want to use. On older versions of Android, you can get much the same functionality by installing the excellent TapPath.
TapPath Browser Helper
Android Marshmallow feature: support for fingerprint readers for paymentsIn Android Marshmallow, the fingerprint sensor is supported throughout the OS, not just for unlocking your phone but for authorizing things such as payments. You can get similar functionality in recent Samsung devices thanks to PayPal and FIDO: go to Settings > Fingerprints > Pay with PayPal to enable the feature.
If you don’t have a fingerprint reader don’t worry: you can use ICE Unlock to turn your camera into a scanner, although it’ll only unlock your phone. That’s because while it works perfectly well as a phone unlocker, the camera can’t process the same level of detail as a dedicated fingerprint scanner, so the security isn’t strong enough to be trusted with your debit or credit card details. Still, it’s enough to keep your pals out without having to bother with long passcodes.
ICE Unlock Fingerprint Scanner
Android Marshmallow feature: memory managementThe Task Manager in Android Marshmallow has been significantly improved over previous versions and enables you to see what’s using the most or least RAM on your device. And it’s easy to get that on older Androids too: since Android first appeared, the Play Store has been packed with Task Manager alternatives including rogue app killers and app managers that can analyze what’s doing what on your device. Here are some candidates:
Android Marshmallow feature: reorder the app drawerThe app drawer, the bit of Android that shows all the apps you’ve got on your device, has been changed for Android Marshmallow to make it more organized. The first four icons are your most-used apps, and after that the apps are organised alphabetically. In this case Google’s actually playing catch up with the Play Store, where you’ll find stacks of very good and very customizable app launchers. You’ll find some of our favorites here:
Android Marshmallow feature: Doze and battery improvementsBattery life remains the Achilles heel of most devices, and in Android 6.0, Google has introduced a raft of energy-saving improvements including Doze and the ability to charge really quickly via USB-C. Sadly you can’t retrofit a USB-C port to your device but you can employ a variety of tricks to improve battery life and charging. We’ve included the best ones here:
Android Marshmallow feature: clever SD card supportAndroid Marshmallow can treat SD cards as if they were internal storage, without the limitations that applied to external storage. That means goodbye to storage limits for app installations or data associated with heavy duty apps. If you’ve rooted your device, Link2SD does much the same.
Link2SD Is there a killer Android Marshmallow feature we haven’t listed here? Do you have a favorite app that recreates a great Marshmallow idea? Let us know below.