The Android M preview is out and to many it may simply look like a “better” version of Lollipop. To be sure most of the changes are under the hood, just as we predicted, so we've pulled together a few Android M tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the Android M developer preview. Even if you don't have Android M, this list will give you an idea of what's to come.
In Android M you can now uninstall an app on a home screen or in your app drawer simply by long-pressing it. At the top of the screen you'll now see options for Remove or Uninstall on the home screen or App Info and Uninstall in the app drawer. Simply drag the app icon to the one you want.
Developer Options are nothing new, but there are a few new developer options in Android M. To access Developer options, go to Settings . About phone and tap Build number seven times until a toast pop-up notifies you are now a developer.
Back up a step and you'll see Developer Options listed right above About Phone. This is where you can enable USB Debugging, OEM Unlocking, Show Touches, tweak animations or access some of the other tips below.
Light or dark theme
While we're still surprised this didn't appear on the Nexus 6 considering it has an AMOLED screen (dark themes are good for battery conservation on AMOLED displays), it's better late than never. Android M has an option for a dark theme or light theme, although this is limited to the Settings menu – the app drawer remains white and Google apps do not change.
To access the theme settings, just go to Settings > Developer Options > Theme and choose from Light, Dark or Automatic.
Granular app permissions was the holy grail of the Android M release. We all hoped it would pan out but no one really thought it would. Previously we had always been told that denying specific app permissions with a third-party app would likely break the apps you mess with. Now, without developers having to do anything, Android itself lets you manage individual permissions and everything works swimmingly.
To access app permissions, go to Settings > Apps and tap an individual app to see its Permissions. You can simply flip the switch for the permissions you like or don't like. You can also access individual permissions to see which apps have access to them by going to Settings > Apps > tap the overflow menu in the top right corner > Advanced > App Permissions.
Quick Settings: UI Tuner
The UI Tuner is an option available via the Developer Options mentioned above. Just go to Settings > Developer Options and flip the switch for Show SystemUI Tuner. Back up a step and you'll see System UI Tuner at the very bottom of your Settings list.
In System UI Tuner, tap Quick Settings and you'll see a mockup of your Quick Settings shade. You can add tiles (press the + at the bottom), move the toggles around (tap and drag) or delete toggles (tap and drag to the bottom). Your changes will now be reflected in the Quick Settings menu.
Android M is all about giving us even more power over our beloved Androids, and RAM is a huge part of taking control. Go to Settings > Apps > overflow menu > Advanced > Memory to see a list of all your memory-hogging apps.
Tapping an entry will show you detailed info and give you options to force stop the app if necessary. Becoming familiar with this part of your Android is a great thing for knowing what's normal and what's out of the ordinary.
Find your Downloaded, Running, All and Disabled app tabs
As you may have guessed with the RAM Manager entry above, that is kind of the new home for what was the Running tab in previous versions of the Apps section in your Settings. Android M doesn't break down your apps list into tabs for into Downloaded, Running, All and Disabled.
So the Running tab now appears as RAM Manager and All and Disabled are now options in a drop-down menu once you've disabled at least one app in your Apps list. The default view in Settings > Apps is the All apps tab. We'll have to wait and see how devices equipped with an SD card handle the location question previously handled by the SD Card tab.
Automatically associated links
Android M also allows us to automatically associate specific apps with specific kinds of links. That means if someone emails you a Twitter link, you can set Twitter as the default app rather than picking it from a list.
While you could set certain apps as default apps previously, the system wasn't so great. Now you can associate specific domain URLS with an app of your choosing. For example, all facebook.com links can be opened either by Facebook or by Tinfoil or any other third-party Facebook app you have installed.
Go to Settings > Apps > tap the overflow menu at the top right > Advanced > App Links and flip the switch for the apps you want to automatically intercept links from specific domains.
Ignore battery optimizations
Android M delivers a great new feature called Doze. When your phone or tablet has been inactive for a while, Android M hibernates it (although alarms and priority notifications will still come through as normal).
You can still use the Battery Saving Mode just like in Lollipop, although now you can exclude up to three apps from the battery optimizations involved in Battery Saver or Doze, allowing them to run at full strength for optimum performance.
Go to Settings > Battery and tap the overflow menu in the top right, choose Ignore Optimizations and select your apps. You can access the same menu from Settings > Apps > overflow menu > Advanced > Ignore Optimizations.
Google Now makes it to the lock screen
You may have missed this one, but the lock screen shortcut to the dialer has now been replaced by Google Now. Of course, you can use Google Now to call someone with your voice alone, along with plenty of other things, so the change is a welcome one. Simply swipe from the bottom left hand corner of the lock screen to get Google Now listening for your voice command.
Future bonus: Google Now on Tap
Easily my favorite feature in Android M (but sadly not yet present in the M preview), Google Now on Tap brings Google Now functionality everywhere on your phone or tablet. No more need to switch apps or copy paste phrases, once enabled, you can bring up Google Now on Tap from anywhere simply by text selecting a phrase and long-pressing the Home button.
It's a pilot project for now, but you can expect this to be the way we interact with Android in the near future. The functionality may not be there yet, but the option is. To check it out, go to Settings > Google > Search and Now > Now Cards > Screen Assistance. We imagine this option will be renamed to Google Now on Tap in a future update to the Android M preview (there will be two or more updates before the final version is released).
Android M Easter Egg
The Android Easter Egg is one of the most pointless but fun parts of any new Android version. You simply go to Settings > About Phone and repeatedly tap the Version Number. In Lollipop you'd see a giant lollipop and if you long-pressed it you'd be taken to a Flappy Bird clone.
In Android M you simply get a toast notification of this guy: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The string associated with that little character is called <string name="regrettable_lack_of_easter_egg"> ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ </string> indicating that Google was too busy, lazy or uninspired to come up with a clever preview Easter Egg. As you may recall, n the L preview, we simply got a graphics driver animation.
Found any other hot Android M tips you can share? WHat's your favorite?