Google introduced the next version of Android, code-named Android M, at its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco Thursday. One of the most significant features is Android Pay, a new electronic payment platform that directly competes with Apple’s own payment platform.
Android Pay will also be available on mobile devices with older versions of Android, but Android M will offer fingerprint authorization, provided that the phone is equipped with a fingerprint reader. The payment platform will be supported by over 700,000 stores in the U.S., and Google is partnering with major app developers to add payments to third-party apps.
M will initially just be available to developers, and is expected to come to end users later this year.
Some of the other highlights of the new version of Android include:
- Users can now decide which permissions they want to give an app. This means that they won’t have to grant an app all kinds of rights to access and change their data when installing an app, but instead opt to give these permissions on a case-to-case basis, or even revoke given permissions if they change their mind later on.
- The web and apps are growing closer together. Developers can open websites from within their app, for which Android is using the Chrome browser. This could be seen as an attempt to take the wind out of Fracebook’s sails, which introduced its own web-like article reading features as part of its mobile app earlier this year.
- Google has improved the battery usage of Android, and promises that devices using Android M may last up to twice as long on a single battery charge than the same devices running previous versions of Android.
Google’s senior VP of products Sundar Pichai said that Android is now being used by more than one billion users worldwide. He added that the platform has seen a good chunk of new users since last year’s developer conference, when Google introduced an initiative to bring a more lightweight version of Android to cheap mobile devices in developing markets.