1 . Google Now on Tap

Google Now is one of Android’s coolest and most useful innovations. A helpful new Marshmallow feature makes it even more so.

Google Now on Tap allows you to access Now without leaving the app you’re currently using. Just long-press on the Home button from any screen and follow a few simple instructions to activate it for the first time (this step is only necessary once—afterwards, a simple long touch will activate it).

Now on Tap creates a Google Now overlay with your current app in the background. In addition to a familiar Google search screen at the top, Now on Tap automatically provides ready-made information and links based on what’s on your current page (e.g. if you’re reading a movie review, it might provide links to articles about the director or movie times; or it might bring up information on a band you’re listening to on Spotify). This feature saves you the time of leaving your app to find additional information. Recently, Google also started incorporating Google Now cards.

2. Improved Cut & Paste

Don’t tell Jonny Ive, but Android occasionally borrows things from iOS. In this case, Android devs took some inspiration from iOS’s cut-and-paste functionality. After you highlight a piece of text in Marshmallow, the cut/paste/search options float over the text rather than at the top of the screen as they did in previous incarnations. It’s a lot easier to work with.

3. Voice Search Directly From the Lock Screen

Previously, only tasks like camera or emergency calls were available from the lock screen without a password, but Marshmallow places Google voice search a mere swipe away—no log-in required. This is a big help when you need to quickly look up that one actor’s name from that thing…you know the one, right? Okay, just let me Google it real quick.

4 .App Permissions

Another iOS influence can be found in Marshmallow’s newfound ability to toggle on and off individual apps’ access to specific phone functions. This power is arguably far more important in the malwarelicious world of Android than it is in the more sheltered iOS ecosystem.

Does that cool screensaver from that no-name developer in eastern Ukraine want access to your microphone for no good reason? Now you have the power to nix it. (Though, if a screensaver is asking for microphone access, you should really consider deleting it altogether). Just go to Settings > Apps > [tap a particular app] > Permissions . Here you can toggle access to specific phone features on and off. Take control of your device!

5. App Power Saving Exceptions

Android attempts to save power by putting inactive apps to sleep (and therefore not allowing them to tap your phone’s valuable resources). This “app standby” mode is a mostly beneficial feature—from a longevity vantage point. However, if you have apps that you’d like to keep updating even when they’re not front and center (a messaging or email app for example), you can add them to your battery optimization exception list.

Just go to Settings > Battery > Battery optimization (available via the menu in the top-right corner). On this page you can find a pull-down menu with two options: “Not optimized” (i.e. the apps that are always on) and “All apps.” Just tap on an app from any list and you will have the ability to “Optimize” (to reiterate: The app will go into standby when not in use) and “Don’t optimize” (which will keep your apps functioning at all times, but will drain your battery more quickly).


6 . Easter Egg Game

What would a Google product be without an Easter egg? Unfortunately, Marshmallow’s egg feels like an afterthought in that it is exactly like the Easter egg in Lollipop. It’s even hidden in the same exact place. Just go to Settings > About Tablet > keep tapping The Android Version. Next, a large billowy icon will show up on the screen. Tap that once to turn it into a marshmallow. After a looooong push on that, you’ll be taken to a marshmallow-themed Flappy Bird clone.

The first time you play you’ll find a plus symbol at the top, which will allow you to add more players (who strangely enough can all play simultaneously). It’s actually super hard. I couldn’t get past the first hurdle.

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