announcement of the Android N Developer Preview in March. This early
version of Android 7.0, due to be released later in the year, features
some significant changes over Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Now, the fourth and final preview build has landed. Read about this and all of the other Android N release date, features and news details below.
Android N Developer Preview 3 is out now. / © ANDROIDPIT
Android N name
an online fielding of ideas from the public, Google has revealed the
official name of the next version of Android: Nougat. The ceremony took
place over Snapchat.
The name Android
Nougat was a firm favorite from the beginning, alongside Nutella, so not
too much of a surprise, but it’s nice to have a solid sobriquet to
attach to the new firmware.
Introducing #AndroidNougat. Thank you, world, for all your sweet name ideas! #AndroidNReveal pic.twitter.com/7lIfDBwyBE
— Android (@Android)
June 30, 2016
Android N release date
At the Google I/O 2016
keynote on May 18, Google announced the release of a beta-quality
Android N release. This third developer preview focuses on three areas:
performance, security and productivity. Native VR support has now also
been confirmed, with a new VR platform called Daydream.
name of the new Android OS was not presented during the keynote.
Instead, Google announced that it will take suggestions for the name via
an online submission form. See the ‘Android N name’ later in this
article for details.
How will the final N build compare to Marshmallow? / © ANDROIDPIT
Android N Developer Preview 4
it. The final Android N SDK has arrived, along with the final
APIs. Developers can now compile apps to API Level 24, which for us,
means Android N apps finally hitting the Play Store.
Known apps with beta programs include WhatsApp, Facebook, Nova Launcher and Spotify: if you’re an Android N user, be sure to send us early screenshots if you spot any new features.
In the announcement press release that AndroidPIT received, Google reaffirmed the summer release of the final software build, which we expect to drop in the next eight weeks.
If you’re enrolled in the Android Beta Program,
you should receive a notification to download the update shortly. If
you want to flash the Android N Developer Preview 4 on your device
manually, head to the Android Developer Preview download page.
Android N’s ‘Night Mode’ competes with iOS 9’s screen-dimming features. / © ANDROIDPIT
Android N Developer Preview 3
new build promises increased stability, to the extent that Google is
encouraging developers, and even casual users, to install it on their
primary devices. It now works with Android Pay, making it much more
functional. The build number is NPD35K.
Google has also added
“platform support and optimizations for a new VR mode” intended for
developers to begin building apps for the baked in VR support, allowing
for access to such things as intelligent head tracking and stereo
You can read over the full changelog at the Google Developers blog. This
update should roll out to your device OTA if you’re part of the Android
Beta Program, otherwise you can download and flash it manually by
grabbing the image from Google.
Google began by talking about the Vulkan graphics API. We already saw this in the Android N Developer Preview 2, and you can read more about what it means for Android here.
new JIT compiler means that apps should install up to 75 percent
faster, and compiler code should be reduced by 50 percent. The
irritating Android is starting… dialogue box will be gone for good, thanks to this new compiler, as well.
App size reduced by 50 percent, making for 75 percent faster installs. / © Google
Google stressed improvements in security
through file-based encryption, media framework hardening and seamless
updates. In particular, these ‘Seamless updates’ mean that your phone
will download new software images in the background and prepare them for
the next time you restart your device. Thanks to the file-based
encryption, you also won’t need to enter your device password upon
Productivity is also now a focus. Google
says that most people only use their seven most recent apps from the
recent app drawer, so the wheel will be limited to these. There is also
going to be a Clear all button, which received a rush of applause for a grateful I/O audience.
double-tapping the recent apps button, you can quickly switch to the
previous app, although, on many devices, this feature was already
available via a long press on the same button.
The new multi-window mode: picture in picture. / © Google
Multi-window mode sees two uses folded in: the standard,
split-screen view, and picture-in-picture, designed for Android TV. This
latter mode lets you shrink what’s on the screen to a small box in the
corner of the screen and do something else in the dominant, full-screen
Elsewhere, replying from within notifications was covered,
as well as notification visibility, letting you quickly block or hide
similar notifications in the future via a long press, and support for
Unicode 9.0 Emoji, all features we’ve already looked at below.
support for VR was also formally introduced. Daydream, a platform for
mobile VR was announced, which comes with a set of specs phones have to
meet in order to be compatible. Many manufacturers are making
Daydream-compatible devices, including Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi and
Daydream is the new Google VR platform. / © Google
For more on Google’s VR-related announcements, and other news from Google I/O, check out our dedicated page that gives you all the info you need on the events.
Android N Developer Preview: new features
on some Nexus devices (Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Pixel C, Nexus 9
and Nexus Player), the Android N Developer Preview is a test version of
the new Android software, primarily intended for developers. Like
previous Developer Preview versions (such as Android M, which later
became Android Marshmallow), the first version of this software does not
contain all the new features of the next version of Android, but
The first update to the Developer Preview was released on March 17. The factory images are available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9 and Nexus 9 LTE. If you’re signed up to the Android Beta Program, you can expect to see the update arrive over the air very soon.
Developer Preview 2
Preview 2 was released on April 13. The latest version adds the ability
for apps to define intent shortcuts, meaning users can use launchers to
create shortcuts, like adding a memo to the calendar, with just one
Emoji Unicode 9 support is now incorporated, and a variety of APIs see inclusion, including Vulkan, which is intended primarily to improve gaming performance.
The Android N dev preview has a lot of features. / © ANDROIDPIT
Menu between the system settings
hamburger menu button (the icon with three lines) has now been embedded
into the system settings. When a user is in the Bluetooth menu, for
example, they can quickly jump to the other system options using
this left side menu. This menu is already a standard in other Google applications.
The Hamburger menu has been integrated into Android N. / © ANDROIDPIT
Reply to messages from the notifications bar
the new additions, this is possibly the feature which most resembles
Apple iOS. Messages can now be answered from the notification
itself. With this, the user will not need to leave an app to answer a
message or even unlock their phone.
we saw in the Android M developer preview, Google has been working hard
to bring a native and efficient multitasking system to Android.
Although the function was eventually omitted from Android 6.0
Marshmallow, with Android N, Google now seems ready to make the leap.
image below shows the multi-window feature, which works on both tablets
and phones and mirrors what you can currently get on some Samsung and
Like most major platform
changes, developers will have to opt in for the split screen mode to
allow their apps to run smoothly. This can be done by adding a new
attribute called: resizableActivity.
Multi-window is now native in Android N. / © ANDROIDPIT
This attribute allows developers to specify the
minimum size the app can be resized to and to determine whether resizing
will be immediate or the application needs to restart with the required
New Notifications panel
notification panel has been completely redesigned, perfectly aligning
with what we had seen in earlier leaks. Icons above the notification
shade are now more prominent, and on the far right there is a drop-down
toggle to expand the panel.
It is now
possible to respond to messages directly from within a notification, a
feature that uses the same RemoteInput API that Android Wear makes use
This is the new notifications panel Android N. / © ANDROIDPIT
Notifications can now also be ‘stacked’, optimizing the space in the notification area.
can choose to stack notifications from the same application in a single
line. These can then be expanded using the expansion button or a
With Developer Preview 2, notifications can be set manually at any one of six levels of importance for each app:
- Blocked – never show notifications
- Min importance – silently show at the bottom of the notification list
- Low importance – silently show notifications in chronological order
- Normal importance – allow these notifications to play sounds
- High importance – peek onto the screen and play sounds
- Urgent importance – show at the top of the notifications list, peek onto the screen and play sounds
To access these, you need to bring down the notification shade
and long press on the gear icon to activate the System UI Tuner in the Settings menu. Then enter said menu, go to Other and enable Show full importance settings.
Now, when you go to Settings > apps and select any app and press on Notifications, you will see a slider that allows you to change the importance.
There are now six levels of importance for notifications. / © ANDROIDPIT
Enhanced Doze mode
energy saving mode Doze has been improved in Android N. Previously, the
feature had only worked when the phone had remained completely
undisturbed for a long time, i.e. when you’re sleeping, but now Google
says Doze will also save battery any time the screen is turned off. We
will have to test the new system more thoroughly to find out what impact
it has on energy consumption.
Power Saving Mode has been enhanced in Android N. / © ANDROIDPIT
A system like this that comes into effect every
time the phone’s display turns off might not be something everyone is
keen on, but we’ll have to see how it works in practice. It is possible
that a less extreme version of Doze mode, one that monitors the energy
consumption of apps without impairing the usability and notifications,
might be worked out.
Android Beta Program
new addition from Google is a way to receive preview builds and updates
over-the-air, avoiding the need for flashing factory images. Anyone
with a compatible device is able to sign up for the Android Beta Program and receive these preview builds automatically.
are just some of the new features of Android 7.0, and many other
improvements are yet to be implemented or previewed. Some features we
may even have to wait for the final build to find out about. For now the
app drawer still remains, although rumors suggest that it may disappear
in the future.
The Android Beta Program. / © ANDROIDPIT
Google says it has been hard at work
on Project Svelte, a set of tweaks that make Android more able to run on
aging and less-powerful devices. This project originates from Android
KitKat but we don’t know much about it yet. More details should follow
with the full release of Android N.
We saw the
first hint of what many suspected early on: native support for VR in
Android N. The hint to what Google is working on appears in a menu in
the new Android system. By going to Settings > Apps > Configure apps > Special access > VR helper, you can find a menu screen waiting to be filled by a list of apps that are making use of an API designed for VR apps.
There’s also something called ‘Sustained performance mode’ referenced,
that is almost certainly intended to help devices run this demanding VR
mode for longer periods of time. As anyone who has used a Gear VR will
know, the phone quickly becomes very hot and boots the user out of the
VR software, a problem that Google will need to overcome if VR is to
become more widespread.
No apps using VR helper services yet, but expect some soon. / © ANDROIDPIT
3D Touch support
Apple’s iPhone 6s launched with a
pressure-sensitive screen that allowed users to make use of shortcuts by
pressing either lightly or heavily on the screen. Now, it looks as
though Google won’t put 3D Touch in its Android OS.
feature, called Force Touch or 3D Touch was first mentioned in the
Android N Developer Preview documents but sources now say this won’t be
included in the launch of Android N. Take a look at our full report on
3D Touch in the link below.
Enhancements to Google Now Launcher
In Android N
Developer Preview 2, Google made two improvements to its Google Now
Launcher. You can use a pinch gesture on the home screen to bring up the
overview page, where, at the bottom, options for wallpapers, widgets
and settings appear. And, at last, app options when dragging apps from
the home screen and the app drawer are consistent. The options are now Remove / Cancel, Uninstall and App info. A minor but very welcome change.
What could Android N be called? Stay tuned, we’ll find out soon. / © ANDROIDPIT
What would you like to see in Android N? What do you think the Android N name will be? Let us know in the comments.