Everything you Need to know about Android N 7.0. Google has surprised everyone with the spontaneous announcement of the Android N Developer Preview. This early version of the next major Android software update, due to be released later in the year, gives us a good indication of where Android is heading and what we can expect in the full release. How does it look so far? Find out everything you need to know about Android N below.
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Google stresses that this release is very much a work in progress. Google will probably add a few more features over time, but for now, it is talking about just a few of the highlights of this new release (and chances are we’ll find a few more after we install the preview.
What’s new in Android N 7.0
1. Multi-Window Mode
The first official Android N feature to be confirmed was multi-window mode, True multitasking support is finally arriving as expected, and it’s deservedly the highlight of Android N. You’re going to be able to open up two apps at once on your Nexus phone or tablet. It’s a popular feature Samsung and LG phones have incorporated into their Android skins years ago, so it’s nice (and about time) Google is including the same functionality in its own software. Working in two apps at once and being able to resize the windows on-the-fly is joined by the ability to view videos in a picture-in-picture mode. YouTube isn’t a waste of time if I’m also working, right? Multi-window support could increase enterprise interest in Android tablets and the Pixel C. It’s a bet that Apple recently made when it launched a similar split-screen and picture-in-picture feature for iOS 9.
2. New Android N Settings Menu
Android N delivers a revamped settings menu too. The 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. So, for example, rather than have to enter the Wi-Fi menu to see which network you’re connected to, Android N displays that information in the top-level settings menu. It’s an obvious time-saving idea and is kind of surprising it has taken this long to appear. Sound and Notifications have now been given their own dedicated sections too, rather than being grouped together like in Marshmallow.
3. Enhanced Doze Mode
As predicted, everybody’s favorite Marshmallow feature, Doze Mode, has also been improved in Android N. Doze now features a two-tier system. The first operates whenever the screen has been off for a while, whether your phone is stationary or not. This means you can now enjoy the benefits of Doze Mode anytime your phone is not being used, even when it is in your pocket or backpack. The other layer of Doze Mode works as before, but with some more improvements. When your phone is lying still, it will enter a deeper hibernation mode, deferring network and other activity until widely spaced-out “maintenance” windows before slipping back to sleep.
4. Direct Reply Notifications
Of the new additions, this is possibly the feature which most resembles Apple iOS. Messages can now be answered from the notification itself. With this, the user will not need to leave an app to answer a message or even unlock their phone.
5. New Notifications Panel
The notification panel has been completely redesigned, perfectly aligning with what we had seen in earlier leaks. Icons above the notification shade are now more prominent, and on the far right there is a dropdown toggle to expand the panel. It is now possible to respond to messages directly from within a notification, a feature that uses the same Remote Input API that Android Wear makes use of. Notifications can now also be “stacked”, optimizing the space in the notification area.
6. New Data Saver Feature
Android N is also trying to help you take even more control than you already have over data usage by adding a new Data Saver feature. When the setting is enabled, it will stop background syncing from occurring except when connected to Wi-Fi. Not only will Data Saver block background activity from chewing up your data allowance, it also attempts to limit the amount of data apps use in the foreground as well. Fortunately, you can also whitelist specific apps you want syncing as per usual while still making general use of Data Saver mode.
7. Dark Mode
All hail the return of Dark Mode! Or as it is called in Android N, Night Mode. Following its removal form the Android M preview builds last year, a lot of us have been waiting a long time to see the return of a dark mode in stock Android. The Android team has made it worth the wait though, by not just offering a dark system-wide theme, but also adding some cool new features too, like tint control to limit the amount of blue light in your display
8. Android Beta Program
One of the niftiest Android N features is the appearance of the Android Beta Program, which takes the flashing hassle out of getting early access to developer previews of Android. Simply sign up for the program and add the device or devices on which you’d like to receive beta versions of Android and you’ll get over-the-air updates rather than having to flash factory images.
9. Android N Password Manager
In Marshmallow, the Smart Lock for Passwords feature is hidden down the bottom of the Google settings. It’s a fledgling password manager for apps that will basically set back to exactly where you were if you uninstall and then re-install an app. Smart Lock for Passwords automatically signs you into apps, and Marshmallow’s automatic app backup feature re-loads all of your app data and progress. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t work with many apps yet. We hope the Android N release delivers a fully functional and widely supported password manager.
10. Android N Permissions Manager
As we mentioned, Android Marshmallow already has granular app permissions – meaning that you can select individual permissions to grant or deny a particular app and change them at any time – but the feature is still a little confusing. The feature actually debuted back in the hidden AppOps in Android 4.3 Jelly Bean but was quickly removed, only to resurface in Android 6.0. So we’d like to see an even better permission manager in Android N, one that makes the process more intuitive and allows better control over app permissions while making the whole process a lot more transparent. Right now you have to dig around in the apps settings of Marshmallow to even find and make sense of the current state of your app permissions.
11. New Messaging App
There’s a rumor doing the rounds that Google will be introducing an all-new messaging app with Android N to replace the largely unpopular Hangouts SMS/MMs integration. The new app will be based on the Rich Communications Services (RCS) platform, which allows for much more than just talk and text to be shuttled around, including video chat, file sharing and instant messaging.
12. Android N System Update Independence
This would be the holy grail of Android N updates: independent system updates from Google that are totally separate from any subsequent updates imposed by your manufacturer or carrier. These last two are the reasons why Android updates take so long for non-Nexus devices. If Google could update the core functionality of Android, independent of any interface and software feature changes added later by manufacturers and carriers, we could suddenly be looking at Nexus-speed Android updates for everyone, just like with iOS, and the end of Android fragmentation.
13. Faster App Optimization In Android N
Following the switch to Android Runtime (ART) in Android Lollipop from the decrepit Dalvik runtime used in KitKat and before, some users have become tired of the amount of time it takes to optimize apps following an Android update. Upon first boot, the ART optimizes all apps using Ahead-of-Time compilation (whereby apps are compiled once – at boot – and then effectively launch faster from there on out). In Android N however, things have changed again.
14. Improved Call Screening And Number Blocking
Android N attempts to improve on the multiple different methods manufacturers have come up with over the years to block certain numbers or screen calls by baking a standard into the latest version of Android. Like fingerprint support and multi-window mode, this means that these rather essential processes should become more consistent across devices and manufacturers because they are a stock feature of Android rather than a later addition.
15. Put Emergency Info On Your Lock Screen
This is one of those good ideas that probably won’t get appreciated as much as it should be. Android N now has a setting that allows you to provide a link to your emergency information on your lock screen, including your name, blood type, address, allergies and other essential information that may be required if you find yourself in an accident and unable to communicate.