Google finally made it official. We've know for quite some time that the next version of Android would start with the letter "M." Not until today did we know that "M" would stand for Marshmallow, and that Android would graduate to version 6.0. With the new name comes new developer tools. Here's the skinny on Google's latest sweettooth-tempting treat.
To start, the final version of the Android 6.0 SDK is now available in the SDK manager for Android Studio. The Android 6.0 SDK includes the final set of tools developers need to make their apps function properly on Android 6.0. It bumps the API level up to 23, and ties into the recently-released Google Play Services 7.8. The Android Support library has also been updated to version 23. Google says this makes it easier to integate the new APIs so they remain backward compatible with various Android handsets.
Google says the final API update is rather incremental, as it contains only two significant changes. First, the Permissions User Interface is now in its final form. This is the screen developers will need to populate in order to inform consumers about the permissions the app requires. The final SDK also makes changes to the Fingerprint API, which Google says helps improve error reporting and enrolling fingerprints, while also making it more reliable.
The former of these two is rather important, as it encompasses one of the larger changes in the underlying operating system. Android 6.0 Marshmallow includes a brand new permissions model. The idea is meant to help make app installasions and updates smoother, while also giving users greater flexibility to ensure apps behave as they say they will. This is a critical component in API level 23, and one Google hopes developers will test thoroughly before issuing Android Marshmallow-compatible updates to their apps.
Alongside the new Android 6.0 SDK and API level 23 updates, Google released the final Developer Preview build of Marshmallow. Developers are strongly encouraged to update their hardware to this final preview. The best devices for testing purposes are the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 smartphones, the Nexus 9 tabet, and the Nexus Player. All supported devices should be able to update over-the-air.
With all these puzzle pieces in place, Google has opened the Play Store to accept API level 23 apps via the Google Play Developer Console. The Play Store itself will be updated when Google releases Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the general public, which is expected to happen in the fall. Google suggests developers test the new beta testing features to get early feedback before the full roll-out kicks off.