back to article Android M's Now on Tap cyber-secretary is like Clippy on Class A drugs

Google today showed off the latest build of Android, version M, at its annual developer conference Google I/O in San Francisco. "Version L was a major release so with M we've gone back to basics," Sundar Pichai, Google's senior veep and heir presumptive to the advertising giant's throne. "The focus is on polish and quality and …

  1. Rafael 1

    Android M will also include much finer user controls as to what apps can access

    Does that means that granma will have to ignore hundreds of options instead of just a dozen when installing a new app? Or will "user control" mean that the user controls what the app can do?

    Isn't there a simple (for the users) way to ensure that no app would have undesirable side effects?

    -- Granpa

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: Android M will also include much finer user controls as to what apps can access

      Isn't there a simple (for the users) way to ensure that no app would have undesirable side effects?

      It's more tricky than it looks. Say, any game involving other players, like Clash of Clans, will ask to address your address book and access the internet. That can already cause a lot of mischief.

      In the end, it really depends more on whether you trust the maker of the app, than what the app demands.

    2. Medixstiff

      Re: Android M will also include much finer user controls as to what apps can access

      Until they have a check box next to each option, so you can turn them off and therefore turn off the feature within the application, it's still not secure enough for my liking.

      RE: The ongoing fragmentation headache

      Let's face it, your average 'Droid user is probably carrying a device with the Samsung logo on it in their pocket" which means that they are guaranteed to be one if not two versions of Android behind.

      This is the boat I am in with my Galaxy S3, it's a nice phone that just does what I want but ffs Samsung f-off with the damn Samsung account BS that seems to alert me to do something every second day.

      This is why I'm hanging out to see what the next Nexus phones are like, I expect I'll go the one with the smaller 5.2" screen, as I hate large screens, the phones are too bulky. I use my S3 at the gym and cycling to work, in an armband listening to music, you cannot do that with a phablet without looking like a douche bag, you might as well drive a Porsche and become a lawyer.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Android M will also include much finer user controls as to what apps can access

        Happily you have a device which has good CyanogenMod support. I don't think you'll regret wiping Samsung's bloat.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          Re: Android M will also include much finer user controls as to what apps can access

          +1 for CyanogenMod on an S3. I bought one specifically for this purpose. The phone was rooted and the new OS installed within half an our of arrival and I've no regrets about it. Also, put F-Droid on there and don't install the Google apps and you're as close to keeping the Chocolate Factory out of your business as you can be while still on an Android phone.

      2. Geoff Campbell

        Re: Android M will also include much finer user controls as to what apps can access

        CynogenMod for your S3, as others have said.

        More recent Samsung devices are kept up to date pretty well, I've got an S5 and a Tab S here which are both running Lollipop from official Samsung OTA upgrades.

        GJC

      3. DaLo

        Re: Android M will also include much finer user controls as to what apps can access

        It has many ways of controlling the access. You won't need to agree to all permissions up front, the first time an app wants to use a permissive feature (e.g. contacts) Android will alert you and ask if you wish to allow it or not. If you don't allow it the app will be expected to handle the restriction gracefully and your choice will be remembered.

        At any time you can see the permissions granted to an app and revoke them or you can look at a permission and see all the apps that have been granted that permission and revoke any and all of them.

        The issue though is two-fold. You can't restrict Internet access by the look of it and an app compiled for a non-M api won't have the granular control.

  2. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Yeah, but what will Google break?

    My girlfriend is still using XP because "upgrades always break things."

    She's right. Except for my Linux box, which actually seems to upgrade things AND make them better, I can't recall an upgrade in years that didn't screw up some perfectly good feature.

    Phones, computers, TVs.... I've seen all of them knackered by an upgrade.

    But Google is the worst. I can't recall a Google product that is as usable as it was three years ago. Any number of core Google services are THAT close to being abandoned because they have eliminated some feature that I use, or have been changed in enough inexplicable ways that I can't be bothered.

  3. stephajn

    The ongoing fragmentation headache

    I'm an Android user and can't see myself in the foreseeable future switching to iOS on either my phone or my tablet. But the fragmentation issue is really starting to annoy a lot. I hate the idea that the only way I will get the latest and greatest Android build OTA is if I have a Google branded phone. Let's face it, your average 'Droid user is probably carrying a device with the Samsung logo on it in their pocket which means that they are guaranteed to be one if not two versions of Android behind. I don't know what HTC or Sony customers have to deal with when it comes to the newest version of Android, but I do envy the Apple device crowd when a new build of iOS comes out and they can all have it at once if they so desire rather than wondering if their device will get to see the update any time soon if ever at all.

    1. davtom

      Re: The ongoing fragmentation headache

      Having the latest and greatest is a double-edged sword. I have an old Nexus 7, a newer Nexus 7 and a Nexus 4. The newer Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 were OK when upgraded to Lollipop, but the old Nexus 7 started performing like a dog. Many people had that same experience.

      The Nexus 4 started going wrong after two years, so at that point, it was time to buy a new phone. I'd had enough of being one of Google's unofficial beta-testers, looked at the rest of the market, and settled on a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The ongoing fragmentation headache

        If only you could choose when to install the update and wait until others had checked it out first before upgrading and then upgrade at any time you felt ready, knowing you always had that option?

        Hint: You do.

      2. xerocred

        Re: The ongoing fragmentation headache

        @davtom old N7...

        Settings >developer options >background process limit, set to at most 2

        (But seems to reset to degault on a power cycle)

  4. rcmattyw

    Personally I now accept that whatever the version of Android a handset ships with, is possibly the only version of Android that will ever be available on that device. Running a Huawei Ascend Mate 7, love the phone, hate the interface.

    I just loaded a 3rd part launcher and its now perfect. I may or may not get Android 5, though it runs beautifully smooth right now anyway and on a great piece of hardware for the money. Can't be bothered rooting my devices any more, simply changing launcher and default apps is generally enough although I do wish Google would allow third party firewall apps without root access. :(

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Fingerprint AND passcode?

    "A US court ruled last year that fingerprints aren't covered under the 5th Amendment, meaning police can force you to unlock your phone via fingertip in a way they can't with a passcode."

    How about if the phone is unlocked by passcode but it's not you who's unlocked it or it is you who's unlocked it but for some reason you don't wish to supply the right passcode?

    You could get a basic phone user profile with no apps or contacts. It is also more secure in that it follows the rules of something you've got (phone), something you are, and something you know.

  6. AMBxx Silver badge
    FAIL

    Have they fixed WiFi yet?

    Just asking. Switched back to 4.4 after a failed attempt to stream iPlayer on my Nexus.

  7. Cliff

    Creepy Now

    I can see why people might find it creepy, but seeing as they're slurping all that data anyhow, may as well get some benefit from it... And it gives you a hint just what data they are slurping!

  8. naive

    Upgrades !

    Nice all this new stuff, but this hit and run behavior in the Android world, selling a phone and never upgrading, is unacceptable.

    It is unclear how an operating System holding 80% of the world-wide smart phone market can get away without offering upgrades for at least 3 years after the initial purchase of the device.

    Google either does not have any power over the lazy device manufacturers or it does not care. If Microsoft can push updates on pc's of 10 years old, google should too. And if it can not, because the device manufacturers screwed up stock Android so much it can not be upgraded, it should change policies, so it can force updates to be pushed on devices.

    1. Jimmy2Cows
      Boffin

      Re: Upgrades !

      Pretty simple really... MS owns Windows and PC manufacturers don't modify it. Sure, they may install bloatware and crapware when they build a PC, but they cannot modify the underlying operating system. This means MS can freely update the OS at any time without (generally) obliterating whatever the PC manufacturer has installed.

      Android phone manufacturers are free to modify the operating system to add their own bloat/crapware and other "features" that you can't remove without rooting and reinstalling a clean OS.

      Because of this direct change, Google cannot simply release an update an have it install on your phone. Chances are a lot of things will break.

      Instead, your phone manufacturer gets the updates from Google and decides if they can be arsed to go through the modification, testing and deployment hassle all over again with the new version.

      How much they can be arsed depends on the age and probably cost of your phone i.e. newer flagships are more likely to get an upgrade, older/landfill can forget it.

      The simple answer is Google should make it a condition of using Android that manufacturers cannot modify it, at least not in any way that prevents Google applying OTA upgrades directly.

      There's probably a dozen or more contractual and incentive-based reasons that will never happen.

    2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: Upgrades !

      You're expecting companies who make their money by selling hardware to adopt practices which will slow the rate at which their customers buy new hardware? Good luck with that. Google doesn't care as long as you continue to use their services, which you probably will if you're already using them. By the way, love the handle.

  9. mrmond

    Abandoned anyway.

    Nexus 7 2012. Ran perfectly on 4.1 Jellybean, then each update gradualy made it worse until KitKat which was excellent.

    5 was ok but kept freezing. 5.01 improved it slightly, then 5.02 ran great as long as I force closed apps after having about 5 running.

    Now it updated to 5.1 and even if it runs ok, after an hour on standby and not running anything it hangs when turning it back on. Consistenly until I reboot or find out what app process has eaten all the memory away.

    As M has been stated to not be available for N7 2012 I'm going back to KitKat and sticking there.

    (Oddly 5.02 on my Moto E 2nd gen LTE is brilliant)

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Abandoned anyway.

      I had similar issues with my 2012 N7 and went to Cynaogen Mod, via their desktop installer, which was a pretty painless process. Performs much better using that than it had ever since the official N7 KitKat update.

    2. xerocred

      N7 fix

      Developer options > background process limit > at most 2

      But it defaults to standard on power cycle...

      Makes the n7 2012 5.1.1 run ok

  10. Cosmo

    Nexus 4 not supported?

    The Developer preview talk about the Nexus 5,6 and 9. Does that mean that the Nexus 4 won't be supported?

    I have loved my Nexus 4, but the update to Lollipop is doing its best to kill it. I frequently get the BSOD (Black screen of death) where the notification LED still works, but nothing else. Also, since updating to Lollipop 5.1 I lose my data connection when moving out of range of the Wifi. I hope that this isn't one of the "deep sleeps" that Google are promoting with Android M, as it makes your phone about as useful as a paperweight.

    At this point, I'm not sure whether to hold onto wait until Android M comes out, or revert back to KitKat...

  11. Turtle

    Ambiguiity.

    "Android M's Now on Tap cyber-secretary is like Clippy on hard drugs"

    Do you consider that positive, or negative?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Ambiguiity.

      Up to you, friend.

      C.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reflow ???

    If it doesn't bring back reflow, I don't care.

  13. gbru2606

    Android pet-hate: Google Play Music...for example

    There are plenty of downsides with Android, My pet hate: It can easily take 4-7 steps to get to your graphic equalizer from WITHIN the Play Music app on Lollipop. It was easier for me to adjust my music experience 40 years ago. That's some feat with $90 invested in your company, it really is.

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