Google closes in on Android M, the next flavor of its mobile OS

Google has revealed the agenda for its upcoming I/O conference, with one session pointing to a greater emphasis on the workplace.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

The next version of Android will apparently follow Lollipop with a tasty name that starts with the letter M. CNET

Whatever candy Google chooses as the nickname for its upcoming Android M update, it seems that M may also stand for "workplace."

On Wednesday, the search giant posted its lineup of events for its I/O conference, scheduled to run from May 27 through May 29. Google holds its annual I/O escapade for Android developers with sessions and workshops geared toward helping them work with the mobile OS. The company also uses the event to announce the next version of Android. And now we at least have a clue as to what letter Google will use to name the next flavor.

A post for a session called "Android for Work Update" spilled the beans in its first sentence, saying that "Android M is bringing the power of Android to all kinds of workplaces." Google has since removed the entire posting for the Android for Work session. But the folks at Ars Technica were able to snap a screenshot in the nick of time, so we still have proof of the upcoming existence of Android M.

Google likes to flavor each new version of its mobile OS by giving it the name of some tasty treat. The company's MO is to tease us by revealing the first letter and then unveil the full name at the official launch. Using the letter M doesn't come as a big surprise, however. Google has long followed the alphabet in its OS naming convention. The current version of Android is called Lollipop while the prior versions were named KitKat, Jelly Bean, Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb. So what could the M stand for? A few guesses? M&Ms. Milky Way. Milk Duds. Mallomars. Marshmallow. How about marzipan? Hmm, maybe not.

Beyond temping us with the next Android version, the I/O event page reveals the different sessions taking place at the conference. The Agenda page provides an overview of each day's activities. With badge pick-up slated for May 27, the actual conference kicks off May 28 with a keynote address from Sundar Pichai, Google's senior VP of products. Then come two full days of sessions. Clicking the name of each session on the I/O webpage provides the full details.

The session that was removed -- Android for Work Update -- indicated that Google plans to focus more on the business world with Android M. The description said that the new version of Android "would open huge new markets for hundreds of millions of devices to workers at small businesses, deskless workers, logistics and warehousing jobs; all empowered by adoption of Android devices at Work."

Launched this past February, Google's Android for Work initiative aims to convince more consumers to use their Android devices at work. The new initiative is one way to compete with Apple, which last summer teamed up with IBM to offer industry-specific apps as a way to sell more iPhones and iPads in the business world.

But Google has much more up its sleeve. One session delves into the Google Fit app, which is Google's challenge to Apple's Health App as it can monitor your health and fitness through your Android device. Another session called "Notifications, Interruptions and Volumes: Coming Attractions" promises to reveal how Google has refined notifications for the next version of Android.

One session called "Battery Performance & Tooling" aims to help developers avoid battery drain in their apps. And yet another session dubbed "Your app, now available hands-free" attempts to intrigue developers with the question: "What if you could provide users with a new method of access to your apps with little to no development overhead? In this talk, we will discuss ways to give anyone access to their Android device through voice alone."

Several of the sessions are presented more than once so developers have a chance to catch as many as they can handle. The two days still present a heavy lineup and a lot to take in. But certain sessions are key for Android developers who want to ensure that their apps keep pace with and take advantage of the next version of Android.

Google did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.