Phandroid Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Sat, 30 May 2015 02:05:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Google highlights their favorite Material Design apps on Google Play, here’s the full list Sat, 30 May 2015 01:53:04 +0000 Google Design

Hot of the heels of Google I/O 2015, Google’s Design Team is ready to talk about, what else, but design. During I/O, they gave their entire site a fresh new Material design overhaul. As most of you know, Material is Google’s new design language that was introduced last year in Android 5.0 Lollipop and bled out into all of Google’s web services.

Material design focuses on clean, minimal design with bold colors and typography that emphasize depth and are brought to life with gorgeous animations. Still confused? Simply put, it’s a lot like paper. Well, maybe the Google design team can explain it better in their latest video:

While we’re just now seeing more and more Android apps follow this design philosophy, some definitely do it better than others. There’s no better way to show what Material Design is than by simply showing you. That’s why Google’s Material Design team decided to showcase their favorite apps adhering to their guidelines in a new featured page in the Google Play Store.

Google Material Design app picks

There’s 18 apps total ranging from fitness to messaging and everything in between but Google hand-picked 6 which they felt excelled in specific areas for their first ever “Material Design Awards.” Here are the top picks:

B&H Photo Video Audio Pro for Immersive Imagery

New York Times for Elegant Typography

Pocket for Adaptive Layouts

Pocket Casts for Seamless Browsing

Tumblr for Delightful Animation

Weather Timeline for Crafted Simplicity

If you’d like to see all the others are featured, the full list can be found over on Google’s landing page here.


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Up close with Google and Qualcomm’s new Project Tango smartphone platform [VIDEO] Sat, 30 May 2015 00:05:17 +0000 project-tango-qualcomm-phone-back

Out of all the Google projects, Project Tango is probably the one that gets the least amount of attention around the blogosphere. That probably has something to do with the fact that it’s so developer focused and its real world applications aren’t so easily visualized when it comes to consumer devices.

What is Project Tango, you ask? Well, according to Larry Yang, Project Tango’s lead product manager, it’s as a computer vision-based platform that gives mobile devices the ability to, not only sense their location within a space, but identify objects around them as well. This gives devices the ability to navigate around indoors purely by sight. No WiFi, GPS, or Bluetooth beacons necessary.


During this year’s Google I/O, Google announced a new smartphone reference platform for Project Tango. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 and equipped with a 3D depth sensing camera. It’s not for the everyday man, but meant to give developers the tools they need to start building exciting new applications and products.


While real-world use cases can be anything from furniture modeling to extremely accurate and advanced augmented reality. But probably the most interesting application is in gaming, where all these things come into play. In fact, Yang showed us toy gun built by Hasbro that tracks the players location and movement, mirroring that in the virtual world.


Google says they’ve sold around 3,000 units of their NVIDIA powered tablet which recently went on sale in the Google Store earlier this week for $512. With the lower price tag, removal of the invitation restrictions, and the new smartphone platform launching this summer, we should see more developer interest in Project Tango. We’re definitely curious to see where Tango ends up in the future.


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Split keyboard and multi-window are just a few tricks Android M has in store for tablet owners [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 22:13:23 +0000 Android M tablet multi-window mode

Android M’s hidden multi-window mode

To say we’re over Lollipop and its shenanigans would be an understatement. Right now, we got our eyes locked on Android M and all the improvements and polish the future Android update looks to bring to the platform. There’s a lot of stuff being uncovered almost everyday — and we’ve shown you much of that already. — but if you’re wondering what Android M has in store for tablet user, it seems Google’s got your back.

Android M tablet split keyboard

Our friend Tim Schofield, better known around Android circles as Qbking77, uploaded a video showing off some much needed features heading to the Android M release. He discovered that the default Google keyboard actually features a split typing mode for use on tablets where your thumbs have trouble reaching all the keys. It doesn’t appear to be available for smartphones, even ones as big as the Nexus 6 but that could change in the future.

There was also an all new multi-window mode that actually isn’t available in any of the settings by default, but can be added only after tinkering around with the build.prop. Once the necessary changes have been made, the new setting can be toggled in the Developer options. It works pretty well even in this early state, with a button that appears in an app’s title bar whenever opening Android’s recents menu.

Android M multi-window layout select

When pressed, a menu pops up asking you to specify the layout. It’s a little “hack-ie,” but we’re sure it’ll be polished up in time for M’s release later this year. We were actually surprised at how well everything worked. Even with 4 apps open at the same time, scrolling was smooth and everything loaded up quick.

Android M tablet notification shade

Other small improvements like the notification shade the moves around the top depending on where you initiate the pull down gesture is also a nice touch. It’s surprising really. All these changes are somewhat small but when combined, make for an OS update that already has us drooling. Why these couldn’t have been included in Android Lollipop is anyone’s guess, but given Lollipop’s dramatic UI overhaul, I’m sure they just didn’t have time. We will admit, it’s nice seeing Google — who typically takes the bare bones approach with their apps — going this extra mile to add more user customizations like this. Choice is good. Check out Tim’s full video down below.

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Project Ara has a Lion King moment at Google IO Fri, 29 May 2015 19:55:51 +0000 Project

We didn’t know what to expect from the Project Ara team at the ATAP Google IO session. Would we finally get news on a widespread launch? New modules to show off? Perhaps just a quick update on their progress?

Well, we didn’t get any of that, unfortunately. What we did get was a majestic moment of pride from one of the project leads holding the a working Project Ara prototype up like the infamous scene straight out of Lion King.


Seriously, dude, way to be proud!

That wasn’t all that was noteworthy, though. We do get our first look at hot-swappable Ara modules, though, with the team attaching a camera module to the frame of the phone while it’s powered on and having it seamlessly recognized and functional. They then proceeded to take “the world’s first Ara photo in public” with the audience.

We’re also told that Ara prototypes are now running the latest version of Android, though we’re not sure if they’re referring to Lollipop or the new Android M developer preview. Cool stuff, that, but we’re honestly yearning for any bit of word regarding when we’ll be able to hold one for ourselves. Stay tuned.

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Watch Android M turn home buttons into magic with Google Now on Tap [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 19:42:27 +0000 Google’s knowledge graph, combined with Google Now, is changing the way we think about search. Instead of reacting to direct questions we ask our devices through search engines, Google Now predicts what we want to know and when, delivering it right to our fingertips.

Google Now is already an amazing feature for Android users, but the newly announced Google Now on Tap integration may completely change the way you use your phone.

It’s that simple:

  • You’re in an Android app
  • You want to know something relevant to the current screen
  • You launch Google Now on Tap by holding the home button

You’ve just started the magic trick better known as Google Now on Tap and it takes only a split second for it to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat. Now on Tap collects and interprets the data on your current screen, predicts what it is  you’ll want to know based on the context of that information, and present you with – hopefully – exactly what you’d want. Without even having to ask. It already knows.

Here are 3 examples of Google Now on Tap in action.

(1) Discussing what movie to watch, when, and where


(2) Texting about dinner plans


(3) Current curiousity (in this case, your music)



As Google’s Knowledge Graph expands and more developers integrate with the new APIs, Now on Tap has the potential to become an outrageously powerful tool.

Think about it: how often are you inside a particular app, going about your merry mobile way, and something triggers a question or task for which you need to exit the app, conduct a search, or perform some other task to finish your thought? All. the. time.

Now (no pun intended) what if you just held the Home button down and Google automatically launched the answer for the question you were already intending to ask? Call me the king of laziness, but I’m pretty sure I’d smile with satisfaction every time my buddy Googs served up this mind-reading goodness on a silver platter.


Initially the use cases of Google Now on Tap may be limited, but over time will grow. The concept is so simple, yet so brilliant, that a year from now we may be wondering how we lived without it (or why someone else didn’t think of it first).

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Deal: Grab the solar-powered 20,000 mAh ZeroLemon battery pack for 50% off Fri, 29 May 2015 18:00:29 +0000 zerolemon

The sun is full of unlimited free energy. Our phones are full of batteries that don’t last nearly as long as we’d like. What if you could solve that problem with the sun? Thanks to ZeroLemon you can. Thanks, you can for only $49.99.

ZeroLemon’s SolarJuice portable battery pack features 20,000mAh of portable power. That’s enough to charge even the biggest Android batteries 4 or 5 times over before needing to locate a power outlet. Actually, you won’t even need to find a power outlet because, as its name implies, the SolarJuice battery pack features a 1.2W monocrystalline solar panel for charging using the nature power of the sun.

The SolarJuice battery offers dual charging ports for simultaneous use with multiple devices, features indicator LEDs for keeping track of how much charge is left, and even includes an LED flashlight. But if that wasn’t enough, this battery pack also features bombproof design with resistance to shock and water.

It’s no wonder ZeroLemon normally charges $100 for the SolarJuice, but you can take advantage of 50% off through now for the next five days. It’s the perfect companion for your next camping or hiking trip.

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If you hate passwords as much as we do, you’ll love Google ATAP’s latest projects Fri, 29 May 2015 17:30:27 +0000 project-abacus-you-are-your-password-phandroid

It’s another wonderful day of Google I/O and the developer conference is proving that there’s still more interesting developments outside of Android M. During a Google ATAP session, Regina Duggan took the stage to talk about what the special projects unit as been working on.

Project Abacus

One of the more interesting projects is something called Project Abacus. They’ve actually been conducting user trials and gathering data since last year. Everyone knows passwords suck (Duggan actually said this on stage) and Project Abacus looks to eliminate the hassle of typing out or remembering long passwords because simply put: humans aren’t good at this.

Because your smartphone knows more about you than you think, Project Abacus combines a variety of sensor data — how you walk, location patterns, how you talk, how you type — to verify that you are you. In other words, your device is the key to your authentication and it doesn’t even need fingerprint scanning hardware to pull it off.


Project Abacus works passively in the background to continually authenticate you before a website or app or anything else asks you for your password. Based on a trust score, it can verify your identity and you’ll be logged in without having to type a single thing. Higher trust scores could be required from something like a banking app, while low ones for something like logging into a game. Should your device fall into the wrong hands, the trust score will drop and the user will be asked to input a password like the olden days.

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is how secure Abacus is when compared to other methods of authentication. ATAP says that by combining all this sensor data, Abacus is more than 10 times more secure than traditional methods. We’ve seen enough movies to know that anyone can pop out your eyeball or cut off your fingers — wouldn’t it be great if you phone knew you were you?

Project Vault


Another interesting project to come out of Google ATAP’s session is something they’re calling Project Vault. ATAP says Vault is tiny, security dedicated computer squeezed into a micro SD card. It uses a suite of encryption primitives to act as a digital mobile safe for your most sensitive data, anything from chat conversations to files and everything in between.

Using a driver-free interface, Project Vault partitions a portion of an SD card to store data and works out of the box on a variety of platforms outside of Android (like full fledged Windows PCs). ATAP says that Vault more or less aimed at the enterprise market for now and like most things to come out of Google I/O, still in its early stages but will soon have an open source SDK for developers.

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Google’s Project Soli could change how we interact with wearable devices [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 17:29:16 +0000

Google’s big keynote yesterday had plenty of interesting stuff for the Android lovers among us, but some really exciting advances in technology were shown off today by Google’s head of advanced technologies and projects division, Regina Dugan. Dugan introduced one new technology development as Project Soli, a gesture radar solution that Dugan and her team have been developing since last June.

Dugan started the presentation by setting up an everyday use case–that smart devices currently don’t have a reliable way to interface with them since they’re considerably smaller than our phones. Project Soli is designed to fix that problem entirely, as it’s a gesture-based radar solution. Interacting with small interfaces using radar was previously impossible, as radar dishes are much too large to fit into a smart device interface.


ATAP created its very own mobile gesture radar system that’s small enough to fit inside of a smartwatch. Check out the demonstration above and you can see Ivan Poupyrev, the ATAP Technical Project lead give a short demonstration of how the technology works. You can hover your hand over the watch to interact with its software, play games, or even just adjust the time. You no longer need to tap on your watch, or curse after you’ve mis-tapped twice in a row because the screen is so small.


According to Proupyrev, the APIs for Project Soli will be available later this year, which could mean the next generation of smartwatches could include wearable gestures that take the complication out of building a UI that needs to be compact but also responsive to touch.

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Your clothes will be your next smartphone with Google’s Project Jacquard [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 17:23:49 +0000 project-jacquard-demo-phandroid

The Google ATAP team took to the stage at a very interesting Google IO session this morning to talk about the future of wearable technologies. Google’s ambitions aren’t just more beautiful and functional smart watches, or a refined version of smart glasses. They want to take things a step further and make your clothes smart, too.

Project Jacquard is the result of said ambition. Google has come up with a way to manufacture conductive fabric in a way that’s inexpensive and that can be designed with the flexibility required by any self-respecting fashion designer. More than that, though, they’ve helped develop wireless technology that can seamlessly integrate with fabric to allow it to communicate with a device, such as smartphones, tablets and smart watches.

Conductive fabric is already a thing, if you didn’t know. You can even buy some on Amazon if you want.

The problem is that it’s not very beautiful (most are presented in rough greyscale), it’s not implemented in any fashionable brands, and there’s no meaningful platform for developers and users to easily take advantage of it. Those are the gaps Google hopes to narrow with Jacquard.

project jacquard 1

They had to start with finding a new way to spin conductive textile in a way that’s both compatible with existing techniques, as well as compatible with a wide range of existing fabrics (such as silk, cotton or polyester).

project jacquard 2

The result is a fabric suitable, flexible and fashionable enough for designers to make clothing with.

project jacquarad 3

The fabric can be embedded under a layer of other cloth, or even interwoven with existing cloth to make large surface areas for touch.

project jacquard 4

As you can see, design isn’t sacrificed for functionality. Google then had to find a way to turn all of this:

project jacquard 5

Into this:

project jacquard 6

By the end of it all, you have a piece of clothing that can act as your second touch pad, and an open platform that’ll allow you to translate touch on your jacket (or pants, or whatever it is you’ll wear) into actions on a smart device.

project jacquard 10

Think of all the things you could do with it:

  • Swipe your arm to make a quick phone call
  • Double tap your arm to silence an incoming call
  • Use your arm as a remote control for controlling presentations, including multi-touch and pinch-to-zoom

This isn’t just poised to become some experimental wet dream that eventually fades into nothingness, either. Google has gone as far as partnering up with top clothing brand Levis to usher the technology into the market in order to transform fashion in a way we have yet to see. You can even see the gentlemen responsible for the teams working on this technology wearing a Project Jacquard jacket in the photo below.


We’re hoping a lot more will jump on board once Project Jacquard takes off and everyone sees just how cool, innovative and forward-thinking this stuff is.

[via Project Jacquard]

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How to enable or disable App Permissions on the Android M Developer Preview [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 16:04:55 +0000 android m app permissions

Google was met with a round of applause during their keynote yesterday when they announced Android M would give users more control over the device permissions apps can request. The new system allows you to grant or revoke access on a granular basis, so you choose whether to grant an app access to the microphone, or your camera, or your location or contacts.

Those who have flashed the Android M developer preview will be able to start controlling permissions right away, even in apps that haven’t been designed for it. Here’s how you can go about doing that.

  1. To start, head to Settings > App and find an app which you want to work with. Select it.
  2. Tap App Permissions on the App Info screen.
  3. You will see a list of permissions the app requests, and whether those permissions are toggled on or off. Tap the toggle to customize the setting.

Note that you may get a warning letting you know that some apps which don’t natively implement the new permissions might break as a result of disabling or enabling. If that happens, just use the steps above to go back and turn the permission back on. The only thing left to do is to rejoice now that you have the final say over which device functions an app is allowed to use.

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How to enable the Light or Dark Theme on the Android M Developer Preview [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 14:35:44 +0000 android m theme options

One of the cool things that popped up in the Android M developer preview was the ability to switch between a light or dark theme. It’s nothing drastic — system UI elements and menus become either light text on dark background or dark text on light background — but it’s a nice little added bit of customization for those who can’t stand one or the other.

So how do you enable it? It’s very simple, and a quick 2 minute viewing of the video above shows you exactly how. Can’t watch it? Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to do to get going:

  1. Make sure you enable the Developer Options menu. This can be done by going to Settings > About Phone. From there, scroll to the build number and tap it really fast until the phone tells you you’re a developer.
  2. Head back to Settings > Developer Options and find the Theme option.
  3. In the resulting dialog box, select between Light, Dark or Automatic.

And there you have it. We’re still a bit unsure on what the “Automatic” setting does. It’s possible this option will choose between Light or Dark depending on factors such as time of day or a reading from the ambient light sensor. We’re still testing it out, and we’ll be sure to let you know if we find anything.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that this setting does not yet do anything as this is a developer preview and things aren’t guaranteed to work 100% the way they’re meant to. In any case, give it a go if you have the Android M developer preview on your Nexus device!

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How to customize the Quick Settings Panel on the Android M Developer Preview [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 14:02:29 +0000 android m quick settings customization

Yesterday it was revealed that you can now rearrange the quick settings toggles in the Android M developer preview. It’s not a groundbreaking feature, but people have different tastes and needs so it’s certainly something we’ll all come to appreciate.

If you happen to have the developer preview loaded on one of your Nexus devices and want to try this out, here’s a quick and easy guide. You can follow the video above, or take heed to the following steps:

  1. Make sure you enable the Developer Options menu. This can be done by going to Settings > About Phone. From there, scroll to the build number and tap it really fast until the phone tells you you’re a developer.
  2. Head back to Settings > Developer Options and find the Show SystemUI Tuner option. Make sure the toggle is set to on.
  3. Now go to Settings > System UI Tuner, and you’ll see an option called Quick Settings. Select it.
  4. Here you can remove and add tiles as you see fit. To remove a tile, perform a long-press on it and drag it down to the bottom. To add, press the “Add Tile” button at the bottom.

And once you’ve gotten everything the way you want it, head to notifications to see your Quick Settings panel exactly the way you want it. Unfortunately the Android M developer preview is still a bit buggy, so trying to rearrange tiles in the exact order you want doesn’t seem to work just yet, but we’re hopeful all of that will be squared away by the time this thing is ready for production.

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How to use Android Pay in Android M [VIDEO] Fri, 29 May 2015 13:58:08 +0000 There are a lot of great new features in Android M but perhaps the most useful is Android Pay. Not to be confused with Google Wallet, Android Pay is actually a Google-Wallet compatible API that lets developers build a streamlined and trusted payment system directly into their app. For Android users this makes paying for goods – whether at a physical store in a new app – easier than ever before.

Android Pay: Tap to pay in stores

Here’s an example of using Android Pay in the real world, in this case, to purchase a beverage from a vending machine.

Deal lovers will absolutely love one piece core piece of Android Pay functionality:

Also, with select retailers, your loyalty programs and special offers will be automatically applied at checkout. For example, when you tap to buy a Coke at a vending machine, your MyCokeRewards will be automatically applied. With Android Pay the contactless terminal not only receives your payment info, but also your loyalty programs and offers.

All those hard earned rewards points might finally get redeemed before they expire!

Android Pay: Tap to pay in apps

But perhaps the coolest part of Android M is the ability for developers to build Android Pay directly into their app, allowing developers to build a native store directly into the experience for Android users. In this next video, we see how one app – Wish – integrates Android Pay directly into the UI flow.

I know: all of that happened so fast. Let’s rewind it back and see those details in slow motion.

From the home screen, we tap on the Wish app icon, one of the only apps to initially support Android Pay.


Then app pops open and you’ll notice the active tab is “Google I/O”; this is a special tab created especially for this custom Android Pay experience. All Android developers will have access to creating these same type of instances.Android-Pay-Step-2-IO-Tab

This live demo allows us to purchase two different items:

  • Android Mini Collectible
  • Android T-Shirt

I went ahead and decided to buy the Android Mini Collectible, hoping to get lucky and open the box to find one of the rare versions that are selling for hundreds on eBay (and no, I wouldn’t sell it).


The beautifully material designed product page has a clean “BUY” button in the bottom right that we go ahead and tap.


And now we’ve got our checkout options including a “Buy with pay” button (where the magic happens).


Even though we’ve never used this app before, our credit card details are automagically selected from our Android Pay profile to simply select the proper card/address and continue on.


One last chance to make sure we’ve got all the purchase details correct, tap to place order, and we’re done. Android Pay makes purchases easy – even the very first time – regardless of the location or app (so long as it supports Android Pay).

Now I know you’re probably asking yourself two questions:

  1. Is this secure? I don’t want my credit card details getting stolen!
  2. Where can I use Android Pay?

Let’s get those questions answered.

Is Android Pay Secure?

Directly from Google themselves:

So when you shop at a store, Android Pay won’t send your actual credit or debit card number with your payment. Instead we’ll use a virtual account number to represent your account information — providing you with an extra layer of security. And if your phone is ever lost or stolen, simply use Android Device Manager to instantly lock your device from anywhere, secure it with a new password or even wipe it clean of your personal information.

Lending further confidence to the platform are some well-known financial institutions who are vouching for Android Pay: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, VISA, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions, USAA, and US Bank.


Where can I use Android Pay?

The tech enthusiast in us wants Android Pay to be available everywhere immediately, but the reality is that there is a lot of money at stake and business is business. The politics and partnerships will take awhile to pan out, but even before that dust settles, Android Pay has a healthy amount of participating stores and apps.


There are some biggies in there although it’s fair to point out the notable omission of Starbucks.

As for when you’ll be able to start using Android Pay? That’ll happen later this year once we know what Android M means and we see it released into the wild on its very first devices.

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Android M Easter egg unleashes the “Meh” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Fri, 29 May 2015 12:03:45 +0000 We can debate what the M in Android M stands for until our blog is blue in the bot, but one thing we know for sure is that this year’s Easter egg is a whole lot of “Meh”:

If you’re not privy to the “meh face” or “meh” in general, allow us to walk you down the road of internet slangdom, courtesy of the internet’s Encyclopedia Britannica (aka Urban Dictionary):

(1) Indifference; to be used when one simply does not care.
(2) “The verbal equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders.” -quoth me
Person A: What do you want for dinner?
Person B: Meh.
You needn’t look far to see the word memed around the world (wide web).
This isn’t the craziest Easter egg we’ve seen Google hide, but crazy isn’t the purpose of Easter eggs and this particular Easter egg is practically hidden in plain view. For example, Google has previously delighted users with a Flappy Bird Easter egg for Android Lollipop and the Jelly Bean Easter egg on Android 4.1.
The real question: will we start seeing ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ all over the place?
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Lollipop’s sound profiles were confusing, Android M’s are much clearer Fri, 29 May 2015 01:48:49 +0000 Android M sound controls

Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke addressed criticisms surrounding the Lollipop’s awful sound profiles head-on while on stage at Google I/O. Along with “thousands” of bug fixes making their way to Android M, arguably one of the bigger bugs was Lollipop’s convoluted sound profiles which made sense to just about no one and didn’t really behave the way they had in previous versions of Android.

Android M sound profiles 1

For Android M, Google’s making things a little bit simpler with new and improved controls. Currently, changing the volume in Lollipop brings up the volume slider along with the options to choose between no sounds at all (even alarms), priority notifications, or all notifications.

Android M has a similar UI, only now it spells things out more clearly with a first-time popup message explaining each option in plain language. There’s also a handy drop down when adjusting the volume to control audio output for notifications and alarms individually. Again, it’s not too drastically different from what we had in Lollipop, but it’s better and better is good.

Thanks, Hernan!

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