After a lengthy developer preview, the newest version of Google's flagship operating system is finally ready for the masses. Android 6.0 Marshmallow is the twenty-third version of Google's "mobile" operating system, though it can accurately be described as "mobile" only if you're referring to how much it gets around. With all the areas in which Google now tinkers, Marshmallow is destined for smartphones, tablets, watches, televisions, and cars, among others.
Google says that the new release has a "back to basics" motif with a focus on "polish and quality." Marshmallow makes many long-requested features a reality with selectable app permissions, a data backup system that and the ability to format SD cards as Ext4, allowing the system to treat cards just like internal storage. Marshmallow is also prepared for the future with support for USB Type-C's power delivery spec, a Fingerprint authentication API, and 4K display support. And, as with any Android release, there's also lots of new Googley stuff—a slick new search interface and a contextual search mode called "Google Now on Tap," for example.
While this is a review of the final build of "Android 6.0," we're going to cover many of Google's apps along with some other bits that aren't technically exclusive to Marshmallow. Indeed, big chunks of "Android" don't actually live in the operating system anymore. Google offloads as much of Android as possible to Google Play Services and to the Play Store for easier updating and backporting to older versions, and this structure allows the company to retain control over its open source platform. As such, consider this a look at the shipping Google Android software package rather than just the base operating system. "Review: New Android stuff Google has released recently" would be a more accurate title, though not as catchy.