I have an exciting task this week.
I get to test out the next version of Android from Sony, and it is really nice. I’m using the software on a Z3 that Sony has very kindly provided me with for the time being.
There are some significant differences between the official software that Sony have running on their current flagship – the Z5. I will go into them in further detail in the video below. That being said there are some similarities, including the software tweaks.
Without further ado let’s dig into the nitty gritty and see what the changes are.
The key features that the Android 6 Concept brings are the Google ones. The main highlights are “Doze mode” and “Now on Tap”. I have covered these in the recent Nexus 6P review that I penned the other day. Here is quick refresh, though.
Doze mode: When you are not using the phone, the OS will go into a deep sleep mode, stopping all activity on the phone and queuing I/O requests until it is needed again. If a user leaves their device unplugged and stationary for a period of time with the screen off, the device enters Doze mode. In Doze mode, the system attempts to conserve battery by restricting apps’ access to the network and CPU-intensive services. It also prevents apps from accessing the network and defers their jobs, syncs, and standard alarms.
Periodically, the system exits Doze for a brief time to let apps complete their deferred activities. During this maintenance window, the system runs all pending syncs, jobs, and alarms, and lets apps access the network. It is a pretty effective system and it has allowed me to get the battery life of my phone extended to days.
Now on Tap: This is an attempt to streamline your search activity. It is now a feature that is present on all Android 6.0 devices. It’s actioned by a long press on the “Home” button.
Let’s say for example, you are in a text message and you are being invited to a meal but you don’t know the restaurant’s location. Well, just press and hold the Home button and it will then open up a Google search tool showing the relevant details about the context of the text, in this case, the restaurant. It will even give you the option to call the restaurant if it can find a number or navigate to it using Google Maps. It is really useful and as a time-saving tool, very effective as it eliminated the need to open the Google Search app to find the information I needed. Don’t worry, though, if you still wish to use Google Now, that option is still there via a swipe to the far left of the home screens, and it is just as clever as before.
In addition to these core Android features you also get a Beta Feedback app that will ask you to provide feedback on the UI every now and again. The phone will also get a raft of updates as the devs continue to work on the new Concept. I believe I have had at least 8 so far, but I’ll be honest I have not been keeping count!
Another feature that is currently present is that you are able to remove unwanted apps. These are not just he ones that Sony preload but a lot of the Google services too. I do have to say that I don’t expect this to make the final build but it would be very nice to see this and it would be a blessing especially on phones like the M4 Aqua that have very limited memory resources here in the UK
The last really nice improvement is the ability to change the way the home screen looks. You now have the “Classic view” which is the one we know and love. You can also choose to have a Modern view which throws all the apps onto the screen like on Honor and Huawei devices. If you have read any of my previous articles and reviews I think you will know which camp I sit in.
I really like the ability to customise this and am glad that Sony have included it. In addition to the home screen styles you can change how the transitions look which is a nice touch.
Here are some screen shots of the software…
The experience has been very good and it is useable as a daily driver as long as you are not scared of the occasional bug every now and again (I have not had one yet, but there is still time). As to how long it will be before this rolls out as official software, I cannot say right now but it feels like it is pretty close.