An­droid Nougat

Google’s lat­est OS is al­most here. Chris Martin re­ports

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Google has con­firmed the An­droid N name – Nougat – and that it will be re­leased in the not too dis­tant fu­ture – pos­si­bly late sum­mer/early au­tumn.

Com­pat­i­ble de­vices

It’s hard to be too spe­cific at the mo­ment but we do know some things for sure, partly be­cause Google has an­nounced ex­pi­ra­tion, or life cy­cle, dates for cur­rent Nexus de­vices. The 5X and 6P are the most re­cent and will both be up­graded to An­droid

N, and the Nexus 9 should get it too con­sid­er­ing you can get the De­vel­oper Pre­view for it, as you can for the Pixel C and Nexus Player. Older de­vices have al­ready passed the date of a guar­an­teed An­droid up­date.

We’ll have to wait for more de­tails when it comes to third-party An­droid man­u­fac­tures but if you’re de­vice was launched this year or late 2015 there’s a good chance you’ll get An­droid N.

Multi-win­dow sup­port

One of the best new fea­tures of An­droid N is Multi-win­dow sup­port, even though this is some­thing which has been avail­able for a while on de­vices such as Sam­sung and LG. Nev­er­the­less, we’re pleased that it will now be a stan­dard part of the An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

As the name sug­gests, the fea­ture means you can run two apps at the same time in a side-by­side view. This works on phones and tablets and you can drag the di­vid­ing line which sep­a­rates the two to ad­just how much you see of each app. Note that de­vel­op­ers must en­able this for their

app so it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily work with all the apps on your de­vice.

On TV de­vices like the Nexus Player, users will also be able to take ad­van­tage of a pic­ture-in-pic­ture view so you can carry on watch­ing some­thing while you browse the in­ter­face. An op­tional fea­ture that man­u­fac­tur­ers can en­able for larger de­vices is freeform mode which lets the user re­size each app sim­i­lar to us­ing Win­dows.

VR mode

Vir­tual re­al­ity is one of the big­gest new things in tech right now and Google has made note of this with An­droid N. The OS has been op­ti­mised for VR through­out the An­droid N stack (el­e­ments of the sys­tem). Per­for­mance en­hance­ments in­clude sin­gle buf­fer ren­der­ing and ac­cess to an ex­clu­sive CPU core for VR apps. De­vel­op­ers can take ad­van­tage of smooth head-track­ing and stereo no­ti­fi­ca­tions for VR. Google says that most im­por­tant is that An­droid N pro­vides low la­tency graph­ics stat­ing that ‘mo­tion-to-pho­ton la­tency on Nexus 6P run­ning De­vel­oper Pre­view 3.

No­ti­fi­ca­tions

An­other fea­ture which has been on some de­vices al­ready but not stock An­droid is ad­vanced no­ti­fi­ca­tion han­dling.

The main fea­ture in An­droid N in terms of no­ti­fi­ca­tions is called Di­rect Re­ply which sim­ply means you can re­ply to a mes­sage straight from the no­ti­fi­ca­tions. There’s not need to open the as­so­ci­ated app and you can also use short­cuts to ar­chive or snooze.

There’s also a new way of show mul­ti­ple no­ti­fi­ca­tions called ‘bun­dled no­ti­fi­ca­tions’ which works in a sim­i­lar way to No­ti­fi­ca­tions Stacks in An­droid Wear. An­droid does it al­ready but no­ti­fi­ca­tions for the same app will be grouped to­gether in a nicer way vis­ually and we you open the group, you get more in­for­ma­tion.

Per­for­mance

With any new ver­sion of an OS, con­sumers ex­pect im­prove­ments and Google says it has per­formed some ‘pretty deep surgery’ to achieve a ‘new level of prod­uct ex­cel­lence’ fo­cus­ing on per­for­mance, pro­duc­tiv­ity and se­cu­rity.

Two key el­e­ments to this are the new JIT com­piler which im­proves per­for­mance, means apps in­stall faster and helps them take up less stor­age. Se­condly, the Vulkan API de­liv­ers high per­for­mance graph­ics thanks to 3D ren­der­ing.

Seam­less up­dates, like on Chrome­books, means that An­droid sys­tem up­dates can in­stall in the back­ground so no more in­ter­rup­tions.

In­stant apps

It’s not spe­cific to An­droid N but an in­ter­est­ing new fea­ture from Google is In­stant Apps. In a nut­shell,

it’s a way of us­ing an app without hav­ing to go and down­load it from the Play Store and then wait for it to in­stall.

For ex­am­ple, if you try and open some­thing which re­quires an app but you don’t have it, In­stant Apps means you can ac­cess the con­tent as if you had the app without ac­tu­ally in­stalling it. The fea­ture works by only down­load­ing us­ing the mod­ules of code you need for the par­tic­u­lar task rather than the en­tire thing. You also get the op­tion to down­load the full app if you want.

This will not only make things quicker and eas­ier but also avoid the hassle of down­load­ing an app for some­thing you’re only go­ing to do once. Google sug­gests you might be able to tap on park­ing me­ter and use the app to pay without need­ing to ac­tu­ally in­stall it.

It’s easy for de­vel­op­ers to up­grade ex­ist­ing apps to sup­port In­stant Apps, so should be some­thing we see a lot of.

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