Google does know how to surprise its Android fans and developers! The company has surprisingly rolled out the first developer preview of the new iteration of its Android OS. Called the Android N, the new version of the OS is a follow up to the Android Marshmallow, and is likely to be announced in Google I/O on May 18.
The company has not unveiled the name of the new version yet, though rumors have hinted it to be named Nutella. Till the time Google releases the final version of the Android N OS for the masses, it has rolled out the developer's version which gives a preview of the features that it will bring along.
The latest Android version has been introduced with some new features, updates, improvements and bug fixes. Some of these new features were requested pretty often to Google's Android OS, and are welcomed.
The update is available in beta for developers, and can be downloaded on Nexus devices including the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Pixel C, Nexus 9, the Nexus Player and the Android One smartphones. The good part is that this preview update is available as an over-the-air (OTA). To download it, users can sign up at g.co/androidbeta starting today to install the update onto Nexus devices and Android One smartphones.
We take a look at the seven key things that the Android N is likely to have in its kitty.
Split-screen, multi-window support:
Most of the Android users and developers were anticipating a split-screen multitasking feature on the operating system. Seems like Google has listened to them requests, as it introduces multi windows support to the Android N.
This essentially will let the device run two different apps simultaneously, on the same screen, and at the same time. This feature is already a part of the Apple iOS and Samsung's TouchWiz skin for Android. With the introduction of this new feature, developers will be able to add multi window support to their apps.
Android TV gets updated:
Google Android N will offer picture-in-picture support to the users of the Android TV devices, to let users minimize video on TV and do other activities on screen. This will help users check something online on TV, or watch something else, while keeping a movie or other video playing in the corner of the screen.
Direct Reply to Notifications:
This is another key feature of the update, as Google has come up with additional features for replying to notifications directly from the alert, without needing to enter the app. The Android N lets users reply directly from the notification, as a tap on the Direct Reply on notification will bring up the keyboard and let users reply from there itself.
Also, app makers are now allowed to bundle their own notifications together in a stack, which will let users to expand the notification group. This feature was available in Android Wear since Marshmallow update and now comes to smartphones as well.
In addition, "We're updating notification templates to put a new emphasis on hero image and avatar. Developers will be able to take advantage of the new templates with minimal adjustments in their code," Google mentioned on the developers page.
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Quick Settings refreshed:
With the Android N, the quick settings menu also gets enhanced. Now, on pulling down the notification window, you will see just five icons instead of the full range as seen on the Android Marshmallow. The company has change the by default settings to now just offer Wi-Fi, mobile data, do not disturb, battery and flashlight options. However, you can customize these easily, as per your choice. To see more quick setting options, you can still expand the screen.
Google has added a new option to edit the quick settings toggles to simply the interface.
Night Mode returns:
Google released a Night Mode feature in Android Marshmallow previews, but dropped it from the main OS when it got launched last year. It seems that the company is now ready with the feature as it comes back with the Android N. The Night Mode feature on the Android N has been improved as it will let users to activate the mode automatically by time or location. Also, it will offer filters to go best with the night light, and will be capable of automatically lowering the display brightness.
Improved Doze mode:
Another feature that came with Android Marshmallow was the Doze mode, which was designed to save power and enhance battery life. The company has now improved this feature in the Android N by expanding Doze to optimize whenever the screen is not on or is turned off. In addition to that, Google is improving the way apps are operated in the background, to make it more power-friendly and save battery.
Android for Work:
With the N iteration, the Android for Work has been updated with a new feature and APIs for devices powered by the latest iteration. Users of the profile can mention separate security challenge for apps running in the work profile. The Android N gives users more power to set password policies like they can decide the PIN code size, or whether fingerprint can be used to unlock the profile, and more. It also lets users turn off Work mode to shut down the work profile and activities related to it.