Google turned Android upside down last year with the unveiling of Lollipop, known at the time only as Android L. Just one year later, Google is set to move on to another sweet treat, this time starting with M. With Google I/O just days away, the rumors are swirling.
What can we expect from Android M? Let's go over the possibilities.
A Privacy Overhaul
Android has become successful because it offered a distinct alternative to the Apple way of doing things. Android fans have responded positively to that over the years, but one place everyone seems to wish Google would borrow more from Apple is in the realm of app privacy controls. Android has none, but iOS puts that power in the users' hands.
A few years ago, Android's system of application permissions was seen as superior to iOS. When you install an app, the Play Store shows you what system permissions it wants. That could be something as innocuous as accessing the vibration motor or as serious as reading your contact list. The problem is there's no way to selectively deny permissions. If you install, the app gets everything it asks for. on iOS, the device pops up a notice when an app asks for access to sensitive information like your location or contacts. It's not the most elegant solution, but you can turn simply block it and still use the app.
There was a hint that Android had the capacity to do more with permissions when the AppOps permission control interface was uncovered in Jelly Bean a few years ago. However, that was just an internal dev tool, and it was subsequently pulled from public builds. The damage was done, though. People wanted this kind of functionality. Android M could finally give it to them.
According to several rumors, the next version of Android will include an overhaul of how permissions are managed on Android. This is a tricky thing because apps need to fail gracefully when you block a permission. AppOps could break things, but whatever Google does needs to support legacy apps.
There aren't currently details on how this would be handled, but I'd bet Google won't go so far as to clone AppOps for Android M. That tool was far too complex for average users to make heads or tails of. More likely is a series of toggles in the app management interface. Maybe you'll be able to selectively disable the more sensitive permissions like location access and read/write to the internal storage.