Android N is now officially Android Nougat (sorry to everyone who were still hoping for Namey McNameface…) and the APIs are now official, so it won’t be long before the new Android will be released and shipped off to users globally.
Now true, the name itself has left many fans with a bitter aftertaste. Google took it’s time struggling with this one. Finding a candy name that’s both favorable and rolls off the tongue easily and that Android-ers wouldn’t find hard to swallow was a tall order. The craziness even posed the question – are nuts technically a candy?
But Alas, Nougat is what it is.
Which means it’s just the right time to check in and find out what’s new with the new Android.
Android New: Windows, Tiles and Direct Boot
At Google I/O this year, Chet Haase qualified the “What’s New in Android” talk as “What’s New-ish in Android”. And I can somewhat agree. Overall, Nougat isn’t a giant leap forward in the world of Android and many new features are just improvements on existing ones. It may not push any envelopes, but still, some of these new features deserve to be mentioned.
First up – a multi-window experience (a.k.a “about damn time!”). One of the most frustrating things while using an Android device is the inability to work efficiently in parallel. Something as simple as copying a contact’s number to another app, or copy/pasting some text from email to message and vice-versa involved so much app switching and frustration that you can’t help but doubt just how smart your smartphone actually is. Well, no more. Android Nougat now supports multi-window – users can slide one app window next to another and switch between the two more easily. The catch here is that apps would have to be multi-window-compatible and developers would need to support functionality when not in full screen.
Another cool feature in is that the pull-down settings menu is now editable and apps can define their own settings (named “Tiles”). So users can decide which Quick Settings / Tiles to view and can have custom ones added to their menu. And speaking of settings, the Android Settings app will now also have the main menu always present on the left so you can switch between categories without constantly having to go back.
Direct Boot is also an interesting new feature – it’s a new mode that allows apps to run even when the user has yet to log in to the phone. Actions are restricted (such as access to users’ private data and files), but apps can now provide some emergency user interaction, if needed.
Android Nature: Multi-Locale for Multilinguals
Every Android developer knows that exposure should be global. Unless you’re writing an app specific to a region or country, you’ll probably want to reach more users in faraway countries around the globe. And since you won’t assume they’re all English speakers, your best course of action will be to support more and more languages.
But what happens when you didn’t prepare for every possible language on earth? Well, if the appropriate values-XX folder is missing, Android will use the default one (for most apps, the default one will be English). Which could be frustrating for users in multilingual countries – if their primary language isn’t supported, the app will default to English.
Starting with Nougat, users can define several languages they speak and set a priority between them. Apps will be displayed according to the highest supported priority language and will only default if none of the priorities are supported or matched.
Android Nervous or Nonchalant?
But what language or communication today would be complete without a versatile array of emoji? Nougat updates Android’s emoji library to the new Unicode 9.0 with a lot more expressions, images and overall a more human less cartoon feel to it.
Android Night to Remember
Android enthusiasts that check every preview, were disappointed when Dark Mode was taken off Android M after appearing in the first previews. Well, Android N brings it back with a new name: Night Mode spares your eyes when you’re in dark surrounding or during night time and gives a darker ambiance to your screen. The setting can be controlled via a Tile on the Quick Settings pull-down menu, and can be set to work at specific times of the day (and starting with the 2nd Developer’s preview it is activated automatically).
Noble Android Dozer
Who said chivalry is dead? Not only will Android devices be more darkness-friendly, but the Doze state introduced in Marshmallow has been further improved. Deferred background and network activity in hibernation is not limited to just stationary periods. If your device is unplugged with the screen is turned off for a long period of time, but you’re on a lengthy bumpy ride, Doze will still kick in.
In fact, Doze will now work in two tiers so minimal restrictions will defer activities, coalescing jobs for short periods of maintenance, and only once the device’s screen has been turned off beyond a certain period of time, will the full-fledged hibernate mode take effect with all restrictions for all network, GPS, alarms and so on.
Necromancer: Bringing back the JIT
As I’ve already written a few weeks ago, one of the cooler things about Android N will be bringing back Just In-Time compilation and combining it with Ahead-of-Time compilation for shorter install time, faster overall run time and drastically improved system upgrade times. Check out the earlier post for more details about the truly cool prospect.
More Nougat, Anyone?
Of course, there are more features rolling out with Android Nougat. For instance, Notifications (hey, that also starts with N!). After learning that about 50% of notifications are from messaging apps, Android redid them to allow quick replies within the notification itself. And there’s more. Much more than just the handful of chosen ones brought here. Some might interest developers more than others, some might mean absolutely nothing to ordinary end users. It’s a wonderful mix of serving up plateful for both.
And what would N be without Nexus? Nexus devices are scheduled to receive Android 7.0 in the coming months and be the first ones to enjoy the new features and operating system. Upgrades should take only a few minutes (rather than up to 20 minutes) thanks to the new JIT feature.
So even if you’re a bit ‘meh’ about the name, you should be excited about this new version coming out. It might just be new-ish, but it doesn’t take a Neurosurgeon to say it’s perfectly Normal to want to enjoy the Newfangled features.
Anyway, I’m officially starting my campaign for Oreo. What? A boy can dream, can’t he?