Google releases Android M Developer Preview 2 for supported Nexus devices

google releases android m developer preview 2 for supported nexus devices hands on 0003 970x647 c
When Google in June launched the Android M Developer Preview, an early, work-in-progress distribution of the next major version of Android, it pledged to deliver regular, subsequent builds for the first time in the program’s history.

It’s been a long time coming, but yesterday the Android team launched the first of these updates in Android M Developer Preview 2. Product Manager of Android Jamal Eason described it as an “incremental” update, but one that “includes fixes and updates based on feedback” — Preview 2 squashes bugs, changes a few elements of the user experience, and contains “up to date M release platform code […] and near-final APIs.”

Preview 2 packs a few notable aesthetic changes, most of which contain the app drawer. Unlike the drawer in the initial preview, which introduced a weird, congealed app-search bar and cluttered the left-hand side with big alphabetic progress markers, it’s now far cleaner and neater in appearance. Gone are the capital letters, replaced by a row of icons, and a thin border now segregates the search bar from the drawer.

The changes effectively bring the drawer’s design in line with Lollipop. While the new drawer retains vertical scrolling and a dedicated top row of “predictive apps,” apps which Google thinks (by unspecified means) might be useful at any given moment, it’s now otherwise a lot closer in appearance to Lollipop’s drawer. This makes for a far less jarring transition than before, which is definitely welcome.

Beyond the tweaked app drawer, the homescreen has gained another enhancement: a setting to enable landscape mode. Landscape was previously only possible on tablets and wasn’t toggleable.

Memory, a new RAM management section that shipped with the first Android M preview, has gotten a complete overhaul. Instead of kicking you into a confusing list of apps with associated “maximum” and “average” values of memory usage, Memory’s now inhabited by a single bar of average RAM usage across the system.  You can adjust the window by 3-hour increments, or drill down to individual apps by tapping on a new “memory used by apps” button.

The System UI Tuner, a sort of design customization engine, is now a bit more powerful, even if it still remains hidden within Android’s developer options. It only let you rearrange the power control pulldown in the first Android M release, but now contains toggles to tweak the status bar’s appearance. You can hide stock icons like the signal and Bluetooth indicator individually, if you so choose, and add a percentage readout in the battery icon.

There’s a new demo mode, too, which seems intended for capturing video and screenshots of apps — it hides notifications, sets the clock to 5:20 and battery to 100%, and displays a full cell signal. And there’s now a swipe-down option in the screenshots notification to delete (presumably) not-so-great shots.

And that’s about it. The improvements may be short of earth-shattering, but they undoubtedly show progress toward a more polished and stable Android M. It’s a good thing, too — Android M’s fall debut is fast approaching.

The Android M Developer Preview isn’t really intended for public consumption — it’s mainly an app testing platform for developers — but if you’re willing to put up with the sort of general instability associated with these types of releases, you can download Preview 2 from the developer preview website. For a more seamless experience, we suggest waiting a bit — Google says it’ll start rolling out the update to supported Nexus devices (e.g., Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player) over the next few days.

Cars

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?
Mobile

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Mobile

The first Android Q beta is available. Here's what we know about it

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system, and now it's available for beta testing.
Mobile

How to use Samsung's Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Mobile

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.
Mobile

Leaked ZTE concept phones are crazy, possibly fake, and totally worth seeing

Renders of what may be ZTE concept phones may show how the manufacturer could avoid using the notch on future devices. They're crazy -- and maybe not even real -- but they're definitely worth looking at.
Deals

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…
Mobile

Get excited for your Sony Xperia 10 or 10 Plus by getting it set up just right

If you've picked up one of the Sony's more affordable smartphones, you may be be wondering what hidden depths lie within. We've got some handy Sony Xperia 10 tips for you here to help you get to grips with your new phone.
Mobile

These voice-changing apps will have you punking friends and family like a pro

Have you ever wanted to call your friends as Darth Vader or Alvin from the Chipmunks? If you want to play a prank on your friends, we have the best voice-changer apps for iOS and Android, whether you want to record audio or make a call.
Mobile

The Black Shark 2’s Ludicrous Mode promises the smoothest mobile gaming

Xiaomi-backed Black Shark has a follow-up to last year's Black Shark gaming phone, complete with high specs and a low price. Here's everything we know about the Black Shark 2 gaming phone.
Mobile

Google's midrange Pixels might be called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Mobile

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Cars

Say goodbye to Uber for good: Here's how to cut ties with the ridesharing service

If you thought that deleting the Uber app would also delete your account, think again. You'll have to deactivate your account, then wait 30 days in order to do so. Here, we outlined how to delete your Uber account once and for all.
Mobile

Does this video show off the Huawei P30 Pro's impressive camera suite?

The Huawei P30 Pro will be announced on March 26. It has already started to leak ahead of this date, and expectations are high that the company will improve even further on the P20 Pro's camera.