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Android 6.0 Marshmallow is finally here, and it’s just as sweet as we were expecting. The user interface is very much like Lollipop, but Google has packed in a lot of cool new features that you might not realize are there. That’s why we put together this guide, to help you get the most out of your Marshmallow update.
Related: Our Android 6.0 Marshmallow review
Updated on 3-13-2016 by Simon Hill: Reformatted the article, added tips about app permissions, link associations, the file manager, text selection, and volume controls.
How to use Google Now on Tap
Google Now already provides you with relevant information on a daily basis, but Google Now on Tap takes it one step further by giving you instant information when you need it. We’ve all been in a situation where someone texts us to meet at a particular restaurant, and we want to know more information about the spot. Normally, you close your messenger app and search for the restaurant on Google by typing in the name, or copying and pasting it. That’s so old school. With Google Now on Tap, you can leave your messenger app open, and press and hold the home button for relevant information about the restaurant. Google will automatically provide you with links for navigating to the location, browsing menus, and placing a call to make reservations. It even lets you open relevant apps on your device, such as Yelp.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, though, given Google Now on Tap works with just about any app that’s installed on your device. The next time you’re watching a movie, try Google Now on Tap to get links for the trailer on YouTube and the IMDB page, as well as separate links for each actor and actress in it. Let’s say you see a post on Google+ or Facebook of someone mentioning the movie, The Walk. Google Now on Tap will provide the same information. It will also work with just about any place, movie, TV show, or song that’s displayed on your screen.
How to control Dozing apps
Doze is a new feature designed to significantly increase your battery life by putting your device to sleep when it has been idle for a certain amount of time. You will still get notifications if the developer of the app enables it, though. For example, Gmail and Hangouts will still showcase notifications when in Doze mode.
That’s all fine and dandy, but there might be another app that’s important to you, one you want to see notifications from even while in Doze mode. To enable the feature, simply open Settings and select Battery. Then, tap on the three dot menu in the top-right corner, select Battery Optimization, and tap Not Optimized before selecting All Apps. You can now select the apps that you don’t want optimized for Doze mode. Keep in mind, doing so will hurt your battery, so only do it for the apps that are really important.
How to see what apps are using the most memory
Sometimes your device might run slow for no reason. Now you can tell what apps are using the most RAM on your device with a new feature called Memory. Just open Settings and select Memory. You’ll be able to see the average memory used during the last three hours, six hours, 12 hours, or the entire day. You can also tap Memory Used By Apps to find out how much RAM each app has used. This can help you to pinpoint any apps that are using too many resources.
How to use Google Translate while using other apps
If you’re a frequent user of Google Translate, you’re going to love this new feature, exclusive to Marshmallow. Assuming you have Google Translate installed on your device, just select the text from any app that you want to translate, and select Translate from the copy-paste popup menu. This means you no longer need to copy and paste the text, or open Google Translate separately. This should work with any app that has the standard Android text selection enabled.
How to use direct sharing
You’re likely already familiar with Android’s sharing menu, one in which you can can share information from one app with a number of different apps. With Marshmallow, Google has implemented the ability to use this same sharing menu to share content with other people. This means if you want to send a picture to a friend, you merely tap Share while looking at the picture and select your friend’s Hangout conversation to do so. This is much easier than sharing it via the official Hangouts app. Sadly, there are no apps that currently support the feature, but we expect developers to jump onboard quickly.
Play a the Flappy Bird clone Easter Egg
Google throws in a cool Easter Egg with every version of Android, and Marshmallow is no exception. This year’s surprise is similar to last year’s Lollipop Easter Egg in that it’s a Flappy Bird clone, one in which you must navigate a sea of marshmallows instead of lollipops. You can now add up to six players as well.
To open the game, just open Settings and tap on About Phone. Now tap Android Version rapidly until you see the Marshmallow “M” icon appear in the center of the screen. Tap it once and it will change to a picture of a marshmallow with antennas. Now tap that icon repeatedly — or, at least three times — and follow it up with a tap and hold.
How to customize the Quick Settings menu
The Quick Settings menu that appears when you swipe down with two fingers from the top of the display is awesome, but it’s even better when you customize it. Thankfully, Google finally added the ability to do so with Marshmallow, but you would never know how unless you know the trick to unlocking the System UI Tuner.
To do this, just tap and hold the Settings icon in the top-right corner of the Quick Settings menu. After a few seconds, lift your finger and you will see a popup at the bottom telling you that the System UI Tuner has been added to your Settings.
Now, tap on System UI Tuner from the main Settings page (it should be at the bottom) and tap on Quick Settings. From here, you can tap and hold any of the tiles to move them around or remove them from the menu. There is also an Add Tiles option if you want to add tiles that you may have previously removed.
How to display the battery percentage in the status bar
It’s nice to be able to see how much battery life you have left in the status bar, but many people prefer to see it as a percentage rather than the “cup of water” method. You can do this from within the System UI Tuner that we enabled in the previous tip. Assuming it’s already enabled, just tap System UI Tuner from the main Settings page, followed by Show Embedded Battery Percentage. Doing so will toggle the feature on.
How to silence your phone with the volume button
This almost doesn’t even seem like a tip because it’s an obvious function, but it wasn’t as easy to silence your phone with Android Lollipop. Thankfully, Google has brought back the ability to silence everything — aside from alarms — by simply turning the volume all the way down.
How to use Do Not Disturb
Google has revamped Lollipop’s Priority Notification system and is now calling it Do Not Disturb. Trust me, you’re going to love it. You will find Do Not Disturb in the Quick Settings menu. Just tap it and you will find options for Total Silence, Alarms Only, or Priority Only. You can select either option to last until you turn off Do Not Disturb, or for a specified set of time. The first two options are self explanatory, while Priority Mode functions much the same way as it did in Lollipop, in that you can set which notifications and contacts you will allow through.
How to change app permissions
One of our favorite things about Marshmallow is that it enables you to grant app permissions individually. Granular control of app permissions means that you can block apps from having access to specific areas of your device. If, for example, you don’t think the Boulder Dash game really needs access to your Contacts, then you can block it. You’ll still prompted about permissions during install, but you can also go to Settings > Apps, tap on the app or game in question, then tap Permissions, and you’ll be greeted with a list of permissions the app would like, with a toggle next to each one. Turn off anything you don’t want it accessing. Occasionally, this might cause the app a problem, but if something does prove necessary, then you can always turn it back on.
You can also view all the permissions by type. Go to Settings > Apps, and tap the cog icon for advanced settings, then tap App permissions for an overview of apps that have been granted access to specific functions, such as Camera, Microphone, or Contacts.
How to associate link types with apps
You can now ensure that specific types of links always open a specific app. You’ve always been able to do this in Android, but in the past it would prompt you to choose from a list, or set a default, and it didn’t always work very well. With Marshmallow, you can exert a little extra control. Go to Settings > Apps and tap the cog for advanced settings. Now, tap on App links and you’ll see a list of all your apps and the types of links they automatically open. You can decide which domains should open in which apps, and choose whether you want it to happen automatically or you want to be asked each time. It gives you more control.
How to explore your files
We’re big fans of the free ES File Explorer app, but you don’t need it to dig into the guts of your Android Marshmallow device and find files. Simply go to Settings > Storage & USB and tap on Explore at the bottom. Now you can see a complete list of your file system and folders, and have a good rummage around. You can re-order the list by name, date modified, or size by tapping the three line icon at the top right, or tap the magnifying glass to search for a specific file.
How to select text
Selecting text on a touchscreen has always been a bit fiddly, but Google has made some major improvements to how it’s handled in Marshmallow. Just as before, you tap and hold on text to highlight it, but now you can drag your finger around to automatically select words. You’ll also find that the toolbar pops up right above your selection, enabling you to quickly Select All, Copy, Share, Web Search, or Translate. If you need finer control for your selection, simply drag the blue tabs to select by individual letters.
How to set volume
The volume settings are, mercifully, easier to handle in Marshmallow than they were in Lollipop. Tap a volume key, and you’ll get a pop-up to control the volume of whatever is playing right now, but you can tap the down arrow on the right to get your breakdown of system, media, and alarm volumes. Set them to your desired levels on one screen, and you’re done. You can also find them in Settings > Sound & notification, along with Do Not Disturb and your notification options.Return to page one.
That’s all of our Android 6.0 Marshmallow tips for now, but do check back, because we’ll add more as we discover them.