Android N developers preview

Published on Apr 18, 2016 in Android Developers Resources

Android N is the new version of Android OS for smartphones and tablets. As usual, everyone is trying to figure out the full name. It seems that the most popular option at the moment is Android 7.0 Nutella (or will it be Nougat?), but you can take any dessert name and start your bet.

Google released the first Android N developer preview for Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 (Wi-Fi and LTE), Nexus Player and Pixel C on the Android Developers site on March 9, two months earlier than expected (that is, before the annual Google IO conference which always takes place in May). It seems that Google won't introduce Android N during the Google IO event in May 18-20 for mobile app developers.

The company announced that the final version of Android N will be sent to all manufacturers this summer, and it will most probably be released in October. So now that the Android N developer preview is here, we can have an idea on how Android’s new version will look like.

Android N new features

Multi-window will allow mobile app development companies and developers to open two apps at the same time on a split screen. You’ll be able to resize the windows and to watch videos at the same time. Android Developers will have to add support for this mode individually, and they will be able to determine a minimum size for their app windows.

multiwindow android

Another great feature is the Doze Mode, it was probably the most loved Android Marshmallow feature, so it has been incorporated and improved in Android N. Doze now features a two-tier system: the first works whenever the screen has been off for a while, so anytime your phone is not being used, like when it’s in your pocket, Doze Mode will operate. The other layer of Doze Mode works by making your device fall in a deeper hibernation mode, suspending network and other activity.

Android mobile app developers will also find a new Settings menu. The changes include the addition of a Suggestions drop-down section at the top, removal of the individual section dividers and the chance to see basic details of each section in the main Settings menu. The hamburger menu is back and will provide a swipe-out drawer that reproduces the top-level settings menu sections.

Android offers now a renewed notification shade/quick settings panel. In Android N there’ll be a thin strip of toggles at the top of the notifications shade for frequently used things like Wi-Fi, battery and the flashlight. Some of these can be turned on and off directly, while for others you’ll have to go to a sub-menu. About the notifications shade, it’s now flatter, and just a thin line separates individual notifications. Profile pictures from your contacts will now appear on the right instead of the left and app icons have been reduced.

Users and developers will be able to reply directly from Notifications. You won't have to navigate away from your current window to reply an incoming message; you’ll be able to do it from the notification that appears at the top of the screen. There is also a Night Mode is a dark theme that will also incorporate new features like shade control to limit the amount of blue light in your device.

Android N will allow you to have better control over data usage, and all thanks to a new Data Saver feature. When the setting is enabled, it stops background syncing (unless when connected to Wi-Fi). Data Saver doesn’t just block background activity, but also limits the amount of data apps use in the foreground. You can manually choose if you want some specific apps to sync even with Data Saver mode on.

And here’s an interesting new feature which time will determine if it’s actually a great or a terrible idea. The point is Android N lets you provide a link to your emergency information directly on your lock screen. This data would include your name, blood type, address, allergies and other essential information. It can be a drawback to show all this personal data on the lock screen so anyone can see it, but it’s a fact that it can be very useful in case of emergency too.

Optimizing apps following an Android update was taking a lot of time, so in Android N apps are compiled just-in-time the first time you launch them and are then stored in memory for faster futures launches Mobile app development companies will take advantage of this for sure.

The mobile apps menu in Android N now presents bigger cards in the recent apps stack and new functionality. As usual, tapping the square button makes appear your most recently used apps. And if you double-tap, you can quickly switch between your current app and the one you used last.

No Android N app drawer? For now, the app drawer is there, but it’s not sure it will survive until the final version. But rumor has it Google could introduce a new messaging app to replace the unpopular Hangouts. The new app would be based on the Rich Communications Services (RCS) platform, which allows for video chat, file sharing and instant messaging.

Android Marshmallow introduced Smart Lock for Passwords, a simple Google password manager that stores your app passwords so that any time you re-install an app you’re automatically logged in. This feature could be enhanced in the new version.

Last year, The Wall Street Journal stated that Android and Chrome OS would merge. Although that’s not so obvious, it’s probable that we’ll see some implementation of Chrome OS and Android compatibility in Android N.


Smartphones with Android N

Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC and Motorola are usually the first ones to get Android's updates, while other brands can take a while to release it. But of course, the first devices to appear with Android N will be the new Nexus models, as Android’s new version always arrives with latest Nexus handsets. The Nexus 4 is expected for October 29, the Nexus 5 for October 31, the Nexus 6 for October 15, and the Nexus 5X and 6P for September 29.

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