Android 7.0 N was not expected until Google holds its I/O Developer conference later this year. However, Google has gone ahead to surprise the world by releasing the new Android N developer preview version.
With the new version, the search engine giant is looking to expand on the goodies that were brought in by last year’s Android 6.0 Marshmallow, adding in quite a lot when it comes to productivity. Finally, the new Android OS will bring the split-screen feature to the platform in addition to other features such as enhanced notifications functionality, among other improvements.
So, what does Android 7.0 N bring for lovers of this Google-owned mobile operating system?
Android N developer preview
One important thing you need to understand is that the currently released version of Android 7.0 N is still in developer preview mode. This means that only those creating Android apps can use the OS to test their apps. The good news is that Google has launched an Android beta program where you can register and get OTA updates as soon as the betas are released, but for now, the developer preview version is available here.
While the OS seems to be perfect with devices such as Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, the biggest highlight is the debut of the split-screen view. Even though this feature is carrying Android N at the moment, it is not the first time an Android device has come in with split-screen abilities. It is already available on Samsung, but what Android 7.0 N offers is far much better.
Just hit the lower-right Task Manager option and all the apps currently running will become visible to you. To split any app, tap and hold it then drag and drop it into the top of the screen. This will result in a case where the top half of the screen remains with the app you are using and the bottom shows another app or just the home screen. It even gets better as it is possible to adjust the sizes of these screens by simply tapping and dragging the tiny black bar separating the apps being displayed. To exit the split-screen mode, just swipe up on the thin black bar and that’s it!
Apple already offers such capabilities with the iPad Pro, but the fact that Google will be offering it on all devices running Android 7.0 N is an excellent decision for the company. Multitasking on smartphones could possibly be the biggest addition this new OS brings to the fold. You have probably used it more than you can imagine on your laptop. There’s no doubt that it will be interesting to see this feature on smartphones too.
Those planning to get an Android TV running on Android 7.0 N will enjoy a feature known as picture-in-picture. This is already being offered on iPads where users can easily stream videos in a picture-in-picture multitasking mode.
New Notifications system
Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduced a new notifications system where notifications appeared stacked in rectangular form. To activate them, one needs to tap whereas dismissing them only needs a swipe. Android 7.0 N brings something different. The notifications will fill up the width of the display as the company looks to bolster the Material Design aesthetic introduced with Android 5.0 Lollipop. But since this is a developer preview version, things might change by the time the final version is here, Google notes.
The functionality of notifications has also improved. It is now possible to respond to some of them right from the notification panel with no need of leaving the current screen. iOS already offers this functionality, and it is coming to Android too, but not all notifications may come with this quick reply functionality. As far as productivity is concerned, the notifications system will be very helpful when in split-screen view as one won’t be required to exit the mode.
There is just a lot that Google has done with the notifications system in Android 7.0 N and it will be a pleasure to have the OS around.
Google has also made some subtle changes to the Settings app, adding in easier navigation features that eliminate the endless screens associated with moving through this menu. Developers will also be treated to an Android N that supports Java 8, which means they can now take advantage of the latest tools in the industry as far as app development is concerned. The Doze feature also sees some improvements come its way to ensure better battery management while at the same time maintaining the balance between efficiency and availability.
More to come
Since this is just a developer preview version, a lot is expected to come in. In fact, we have no clue of what Google will name this OS, but rumors are rife that Nutella might be the way. Who knows, other names such as Nougat and Nutter Butter, among others, are also possible. Google is also considering the drop the idea of pushing updates through carriers and OEMs, instead, the company wants to offer the updates as incremental updates. This is definitely a healthy move considering the rate of adoption the company’s latest OS – Android 6.0 Marshmallow – is experiencing.