A preview to Android N - What's new in it?

Android N is in....Yes, Google surprised the world on 9th March with the next iteration of the Android operating system. In tune with the tradition, the new update is named Android N - the exact name is yet to be declared - in the alphabetical order. The developer preview has been released and it offers a preview into what is coming up in the next Android build. Let us analyse the new features in the following article.

Google has released the developer preview of the next version of its operating system - Android - a bit too early than expected. The new iteration is likely to be released along side the annual Google I/O 2016, yet the preview build has been made available to the developers with an aim to get a proper feedback - in fact, a feedback that gives enough time to Google to incorporate the changes and suggestions from the developers community.

Why the preview build so soon?

The Android N is still under development. And it will not be out till a couple of more months. So, why the preview build now? Well, Google has clearly mentioned that the build is only for developers to try it out before the final release so that Google will get to know the feedback. According to Vice President of Engineering (Android), Mr Dave Burke -
"...releasing a work in progress build early... to give Google more time to incorporate developer feedback"

However, those who want to experience the changes and stay updated with the new features have the Android Beta Program . If you join it, you will keep getting the updates over the air. Please note that the build is for developers alone and may not be suitable for everyday usage. The developer preview program will run from March 9 till the final release of the final build. The images of preview builds will keep updating during the program via OTA. You can join the Android Beta Program and enroll yourself. The eligible devices are Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, Android One and Pixel C.

The changes

Well, it could be too early to come clear with any details. The developer build will be continuously updated and the builds will be delivered to those who have enrolled themselves to the program. Google has fixed a timeline for the release. Things will be more clear as the date of final release draws closer. We will check out a few slated changes that appear bigger.

Multi - Window support

The multi - window option on Android has so far been device specific. Some manufacturers offered this functionality - a good example being Samsung. The feature will now be OS based. The multi window feature has been a much in - demand option by the power users.

Touted as the powerful multitasking feature, multi window will let you run two apps simultaneously on your screen. Also referred to as the Split Screen Mode during the earlier days of its launch, the feature will have native support from the OS. You will also be able to resize the apps as per your wish by resizing them. The feature will also let Android TV users to stream the content to one part of the screen, while working with other apps on the other part.

The newer Doze

The Doze feature introduced with Android Marshmallow has been a huge success. It has great impact in improving your battery life. On Marshmallow, the feature turned off the unnecessary processes when the device went idle. The new Doze feature will make it more of a battery saver even on the go.

The improved Doze function will now restrict syncs and other tasks shortly after the screen goes off. It will also restrict network access. Of course, the device will come out of Doze mode as soon as the screen goes on, or when you plug it onto a power source.

Data Saving

Android N will come with a new Data Saver option. The option when enabled will control the cellular data being used by your installed apps. You can control the background processes of apps with the Data Saver option.

The feature can be enabled through the Settings. Once enabled, it will block all background data of all apps. It will also let the apps use as much less data as possible. Yes, we know you have certain apps that you would want to run in the background. You can select such apps so that they will run in the background even if you have enabled the Data Saver option.

Enhanced Notifications

The notifications have undergone a huge change. The notifications now have Template Updates, Bundled Notifications, Direct Reply and Custom view. Each of them have their own significance. The template updates will have emphasis on avatar. The Direct Reply will let you communicate with the apps directly from within the message.

Google has stated that it will come up with a couple of APIs to use with the third party apps. Developers can use the API to make their own custom notifications. It is not yet clear about what are the exact changes that are likely in the new version of Android. But, there are ample hints that the notifications will change for good.

App optimisations

Google has been paying more attention to the resource hogging applications in its recent updates. Android Marshmallow saw a few tweaks aimed at improving battery backup and better RAM management. The new Android N is no different. It has a few features that improve the efficiency of an app.

In continuation to the new RAM Manager on previous update, Android N has come with Project Svelte. It aims at monitoring and managing the background activities of apps. It is designed to keep an eye on the background data consumption of an app. It will control the apps which needlessly use a lot of background data (and battery) and thereby hinder the performance of other apps.

Direct Boot

This again is a much in demand feature. As most of the Android users are aware, it is a biggest nightmare when a device reboots, or boots up after a switch off. The new update has an improved startup time.

The feature ensures that the regular, registered apps continue to function effectively after a system reboot. You no longer need to wait till all your apps and settings get restored before you use the phone after a reboot.

Blacklisting a number

Now you have a native support for blocking a particular number. Well, of course - there are many apps that let you block a number. But, the feature is now embedded inside the operating system.

The best part with the number blocking feature is the fact that the Blocked Numbers list is accessible to almost any app. The default messaging app, the dialer and even the third party apps can write to the list of blocked numbers. Developers can make use of this feature for better functionality. The list of blocked numbers will not be affected by reboots, and even resets.

Is that all?

Not exactly. There are many more improvements. Google has just showcased a few of them. A few more changes include a night mode - possibly first in an Android ecosystem. There is a word on better tablet support. For those who are interested in the deep technical know how, there is a talk about java APIs making way for a new OpenJDK environment.

Android N will bring support for multiple location setting on your device. There are new variants for certain languages like English, Spanish and French. Moreover, Android N will now be adding over 100 new languages to the supported languages list.

When and how shall I get if?

The Developer preview has been released on March 9 and will continue till the final build is released in the last week of May. If you want to try it out, visit go.co/androidbeta from the desktop or mobile browser. Sign in to your Google account. Please make sure you have an eligible device linked to this account. Enroll your device and join Beta. You will receive a system update after successful join in. You will keep getting updates as they are released.
If you have a good technical knowledge, you can download a factory image and flash it on your phone. Please note that this is a risky procedure as a single wrong step will brick your device. Also note that the build is not intended for a regular usage. It is only for developers. The beta update versions can have bugs which need ironing out. Please take a full back up of your existing system.
The final version of Android N is likely to be announced at Google I/O 2016. Rumour mills suggest that the final build will be released around May 18 to 22.

And in conclusion...

The actual Android 7.0 will make its appearance with the next set of Nexus devices in October, 2016. Google is likely to announce the the final build, and the features thereof at the I/O event to be held in May. The new features made public so far seem quite impressive. After adding native support for USB -C and finger print scanner in the last Android 6.0 version, Google appears to be concentrating on the performance based tweaks. The fact that more attention is being paid to battery and resource management speaks a lot about the changing times. Till the time the new iteration is launched, let us keep speculating.

Article by Timmappa Kamat
Timmappa Kamat is a technology enthusiast. He has an active interest in newer technological developments. He is fond of new gizmos & gadgets. He loves to share his knowledge through tech-savvy websites as a freelancer. A Mechanical Engineer by profession, he is equally interested in blogging, with his own blog. He wants to carve a name for himself in blogging arena one day! If you need any clarifications about his articles,please respond here below or get in touch with him through his profile.

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