The unexpected arrival of the Android N developer preview, 2 whole months before the Google I/O 2016 definitely surprised everyone.
Usually Google releases a developer preview of the new version of Android at the company’s developer conference, Google I/O, at the end of May. This time around it’s a different situation, Google surprised everyone with a very early release of the Android N developer preview for the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player and Pixel C.
The final Android 7.0 release date has been confirmed for Q3, 2016, giving Google until September 30 to make good on its timeline.
There are a few explanations as to why this 2 month early preview and they seem pretty valid too.
Head of Android, Hiroshi Lockheimer, said: “It’s earlier than ever, it’s easier to try and we’re expanding the ways for you to give us feedback. We want to hear from you and iterate on the platform with you – that’s what makes Android stronger.”
The earlier preview should allow a greater testing period so that the final release is foolproof as far as possible.
Google also wants to provide the new Android version to manufacturers as early as possible because seeing the trend so far, it takes quiet a few months for most smartphone manufacturers to release the new versions of Android for their smartphone line up. This leaves the Google’s Nexus smartphones and tablets as the only devices running the latest version of Android for the first few months.
“This new preview strategy also gives an earlier look at what’s changing in the most-used mobile operating system in the world.” -theguardian
In my opinion these are the top 5 new and exciting features in the upcoming android version…
A few months back in a Reddit AMA, the Pixel C team revealed that a multi-window mode was in developments for the next android version and with the developer preview of android 7.0 we can clearly see the implementation of the split screen function.
For the folks who aren’t very familiar with the concept of multi-window or split-screen, it allows two apps to be run on one screen. These two apps can be run side-by-side or one above the other, with the option of screen resizing using a central slider.
Android N comes with the ability to group notifications from a single app together. Several apps already do this, including Google’s Gmail app.
Google’s quick-reply feature, available within its Hangouts and Messenger messaging apps and Android Wear, will also become a standard feature within Android N, allowing users to type out replies to messages straight from the notification shade without having to enter the app.
The quick settings panel has also received some interface tweaks in the newest version of Android. You’ll now see a thin strip of toggles at the top of the notifications shade for frequently used things like Wi-Fi, Do Not Disturb, battery, flashlight, etc. Some of these can be toggled on and off directly, while others will take you to a sub-menu (long-pressing the flashlight will launch the camera). A small arrow at the right hand side will open up the full Quick Settings panel which can also be accessed by a second swipe like in marshmallow.
Quick Settings is now paginated and you can edit which icons appear at the top of the notifications shade. Google has added new System UI Tuner options for Quick Settings like Night Mode and offered developers the ability to create their own custom Quick Settings icons.
Settings and UI
The User interface has been tweaked to our likings. The revamped UI consists of the following features:
- Android N will implement a night mode that blocks blue wavelengths of light to help prevent the phones from keeping people awake.
- Other changes include the addition of a Suggestions drop-down section at the top and removal of the individual section dividers.
- One of the best changes though is that you can now see basic details of each section in the main Settings menu.
- The hamburger menu returns and has now been explained, providing a swipe-out nav drawer that simply reproduces the top-level settings menu sections. While it’s not very useful compared to just tapping the back arrow when you’re one level into a menu, it will provide a quick escape route to the main settings when you’re several levels down in sub-menus.
- Also, users will be able to change the size of icons and text on screen by using Android N’s new zoom slider, which will help those who need a bit of magnification to see what’s going on or those who want to utilize their big screen android device in a more efficient way.
Recent apps and Multitasking
The recent apps menu in Android 7.0 has been improved, there are now larger cards in the recent apps stack and like the previous iterations, tapping the square button will bring up a cascade of your recently used apps. But if you double tap the square button instead you can switch between your current app and the previous app.
While you’re in the recent apps list, tapping the recent apps button again will cycle you through the recent apps one by one (as opposed to swiping through the list and selecting an app) and if you let the small countdown slider beneath the app bar expire, the app will open up.
The multi-window feature has already been explained above in detail.
Better Performance, Data Saving and Battery Saving
The Android RunTime (ART) arrival in Lollipop changed the way applications opened so there was an optimizing apps stage when you switched on the device. This optimization was although useful but it annoyed many people due to elongated boot time.
Android N has changed it to make the reboots faster, now the apps would optimize at the time they are first executed/run on the device, so now you can expect much faster reboots.
Apart from the reboots the UI has been further streamlined and you can see the overall smoothness in terms of navigating around the interface with much more fluid animations.
There is a new Data Saver feature in Android N which helps you take even more control than you already have over data usage. This setting stops background syncing from occurring except when connected to Wi-Fi. Not only will Data Saver block background activity from using up your data allowance, it also attempts to limit the amount of data these apps use in the foreground as well.
The already awesome Doze mode has now been further enhanced in Android N. The Doze mode initially used to work when the device was lying down and not being used, the system would hibernate background processes and the device would barely sip any battery while Dozing. This time around the implementation has been enhanced and the device would kick into doze mode even in motion like in a bag or pocket.
The already present doze mode has been further enhanced so when the phone is laying down still and has no motion, it would kick in an even deeper sleep mode. Saving you a lot of precious battery life.
ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT TRYING OUT ANDROID N TOO?
Well you are in luck if you have a Nexus device from the past two years. You can download the software images here:
Find the Developer Preview images and other details – HERE.
Download the new wallpaper for Android N – http://imgur.com/lEK6VVu
Also, Try and guess what it will be named?? Nutella? Nutmeg? …some Indian sweet??