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Google's Android Marshmallow OEM guidelines expand tools, but with a shorter leash

Derek Walter | Oct. 21, 2015
The requirements for full-disk encryption, fingerprint sensors, doze mode, and more could help remove some of the pain points developers and users feel with Android's fragmentation.

Fingerprint sensor requirements

This is an area where Google is playing much-needed catch-up to Apple’s Touch ID. There’s a long list of requirements for those OEMs that want to include a fingerprint sensor. The devices must limit a user to five attempts and limit third-party access to merely authenticating prints, not identifying which particular prints are used. While Samsung and others have fingerprint sensors in its devices for a couple of generations, this enables the rest of Android OEMs to include this feature without developing their own custom software. And it builds a standard interface that app developers can use to authenticate you using your fingerprint. For example, a password manager might auto-fill forms after you authenticate with your fingerprint.

You can check out the lengthy list of requirements from Google here.

More professional audio

Android has struggled in the past with audio latency problems, ceding a huge advantage to Apple. Google attempts to fix this with more requirements for how devices perform when paired with speakers or other hardware, and how quickly the operating system and audio software stack and respond to and playback sounds from inputs. Google has added a professional audio package manager, which dictates the details for audio latency and support of USB audio connections. Devices that meet strict requirements can make themselves available for APIs that should bring far better audio performance to certain apps.

What it all means

If you follow Android you know it’s incredibly fragmented and that the developer and user experience varies sharply. Google is trying to repair this without turning into an autocrat and banishing others from making Android devices. With Lollipop Google arguably tightened the screws, but perhaps not nearly enough.

If you want to find out all the specifics and understand the complex details surrounding hardware requirements, then check out the Android Compatibility Definition document. That will give you a full picture of what you can expect with Marshmallow, which should come with the next wave of Android devices.


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