There are several reports out now that are pointing out that the latest Android version would be officially available for all the compatible Android devices on August 22nd. Earlier the developer builds were made available for a selected few Nexus device but now since the final build is going to be available within a weeks time, you should get ready to backup all your data & install it. The latest update comes with some very interesting features that are mentioned below.
Earlier June 30: Straight out of corn field, Google announced the developer preview build of Android N in March. As of now, it is in Beta stage and is available for Nexus devices and few other devices. What’s more interesting is that the Android N is now officially named as Android Nougat. Users can sign up for Android Beta Program, which will allow you to upgrade via OTA update.
It’s for the people who like to upgrade without the hassle of going through flashing via few command lines. Before the OTA updates started to roll out, we flashed the device, which gave us more time to experience the changes in the new Android operating system. Below you can see the ten important tweaks done on the Android N. Note we would be updating this list as soon as we get to know more interesting changes as we use it on our Nexus device.
Revamped Settings Menu
The company kept most of the new stuff in Android N under wraps before the surprise announcement of the developer preview. But one of the things that were alleged was a redesigned interface of the main settings app. And that rumor was spot on, as it’s the same. There are many small improvements; they all are mostly focused on bringing the relevant information to users quickly. Now there is no need to dive into a sub menu. As all the entries listed on the main page have a subtitle. Whenever you enter any sub-menu, there is a hamburger button on the left that makes it easier to quickly access any other part of the menu. Although, do make a note that, the menu is still split into sub-sections like Device, Sound, Notification, to name few.
We knew for ages that Google is working bringing multi-window mode to Android. Now it has finally happened in the Android N. It is a part of developer preview, you can now play around with apps in split-screen mode and picture-in-picture mode as well. Of course, app developers would have to target Android N APIs to build the apps, what’s incredible is that stock Android would be able to handle all the heavy lifting now. While the picture-in-picture mode option is a separate feature for developers to support. Google explains this feature by showcasing a video player; it essentially allows a windowed app to float around the UI. The company hints that it would also work for tablets and TVs powered by Android. Hopefully, Google’s own apps will have support for multi-window, although, it would take time for third-party developers to get their apps updated with such feature.
There are some features that don’t make the cut to the final build and the Night mode was one of such features that were pulled off from last year’s final build when compared to the preview build for the Marshmallow preview version. It has been seen implemented on some custom ROM skins like Cyanogen. But company finally thought it’s better to give its user an option to switch to dark color during night’s time as the white settings UI is unpleasant to look at. It is probably one of the welcoming comebacks on the Android N. Not only it has been back from the dead, but the company has moved it from the original place of Developer options to the UI system tuner. You can find it in the Color and Appearance option. There is an option to automatically switch to Night mode when the sun settles in your region.
New Quick Settings
With a new version of Android on the horizon, the developer community is quite excited today. While they might know it all in details, where here top give you scoop to laymen on what are the important upgrades that you would see on the Android N. The quick settings have been changed, now when users pull down the notification shade, they are greeted with a single minimalized row of settings icons. Interestingly, it can be accessed without pulling down the shade twice, which is what one has to do in the Marshmallow. The default icons in this row include Wi-Fi, mobile data, Do Not Disturb and flashlight. It is a welcoming change and makes accessing some settings quite faster. Very Convenient!
Recent App UI
There are some major tweaks that can be seen on the Android N Preview Build. We have addressed most of them, but since we have been using it for couple hours, we found out one interesting change that was going unnoticed. It’s the recent app menu; it showcases much larger cards, meaning you can see more of the App running in the background. The cards now take up a lot of area on the screen, thus revealing more of the App’s UI. You would have to scroll a little more to reach to other apps, as you go deeper down.
Doze when screen off
With Android N, Google makes its popular battery saving feature, the Doze mode, quite better. In Android Marshmallow, the Doze mode would not trigger when your device is switched off or in the pocket. It was meant as an inbuilt battery saving feature but hasn’t been fully living up to it’s potential. But now the much-needed feature that was missing from Android 6.0 has arrived on the latest Android N. It is not sure whether the latest mobile OS from Google would sport a 7.0 version of not, but it sure has brought in some much-required tweaks.
In addition to the advanced Doze mode, the company is also continuing with Project Svelte. It is an effort that will make Android much more efficient in allocating memory. It would allow the possibility of smoothly running the latest Android OS version in a much broader range of devices. With background work being more efficient, the Android N must consume fewer resources and gain even more battery savings.
This is not a major addition to the Android N, but it is quite the welcoming feature. Directly integrated into the phone’s default app, it will allow the application to screen the incoming calls. The users would see three options. With the first choice, they can reject the call while with the second alternative they can make the call not appear in the call log. The third option provides a way not to show the user notification of the call. Quite an advanced way to ignore the call isn’t it!
System level number blocking
Now we have native support for blocking the numbers, which would allow users to keep those unwanted callers at bay. In the past couple of years, there are many third-party apps seen a tremendous growth in offering such feature. But with the inbuilt support of blocking the numbers would make it more intuitive to users. Once a user blocks a particular number, they will not receive the text or calls from that specific number. It’s interesting to see that the blocked numbers list will be persisted through your Google account. Thus, even if you switch to a different handset, the same settings would be applied to your new device, once you enter that Google account in the new handset. Meanwhile, the company has also added a separate API that will allow third-party apps to use the same blocked list if you’re willing to give permission.
VPN, Virtual Private Network, is quite a useful thing when it comes to browsing anonymously and moreover, it makes your device much secure. So with the introduction of the Always-ON VPN, the company is aiming for more secure Nexus devices. If you have heard about the recent security case of San Bernardino, where Apple is being a force to unlock the iPhone. There is a huge debate going on in this case among security experts. An Android device may not be as secure as an iPhone, but with company gunning for an Always-ON VPN feature, it’s quite clear that Google wants to make Android devices more secure.
Background data usage can pose a problem, especially if you’re on your monthly data plans. See, with Android Marshmallow, the feature got some tweaks, but it isn’t what was expected of it. But with Android N Preview Build we already like what company has tweaked in this part. The Data Saver is a new option in the Settings app, which aims to make your smartphone use fewer data. The company figures that you’re more likely to switch the toggle at the end of the month, as well as while you’re roaming. Or maybe you simply have a small prepaid data pack. Additionally, apart from blocking the background data usage, it also keeps us informed about how much data pack are the apps using.
I know, nobody wants to think about it, but what if you’re in some kind of medical or accidental emergency, wouldn’t it be helpful to keep your emergency information available when needed. That’s what Google has thought this through on their new Android N Build. Information like medical details, personal contact info and even details of the emergency contact, all these information is made readily accessible to an emergency responder at the site. While setting up the phone for the Android N Preview Build, you will be asked to enter these details. But if you skipped it, you can head over to the Settings app and find the option under. Note you can even add Blood Type, for it would be easier to get ready in any medical emergency. This all information can be accessed by tapping on the “Emergency” button on a locked phone, then further double-tapping the Emergency Info button.
New File Manager Features
Android M might have introduced the much-needed file explorer, but it has lacked a notion of features like moving a file from one folder to another, as well as it wouldn’t let rename the file or folder. If Google really wanted to integrate a File Explorer, it should have given such features. Well, I think they finally understand it, as the company offers these features on the Android N Preview Build. It is still accessible from the Settings> Storage > Explore, with a similar interface to the Android Marshmallow. The new side menu brings up the system File Picker; it’s the one you see when trying to attach or send a file from other applications. This type of menu makes it easier for you to access the specific file types like Images, Videos or Audio. As well as directories like Downloads and Documents. Even, the recently modified or added files and the content on your Google Drive storage. We hope to see some additions on this feature in future updates as this is the beta build.
Change screen zoom levels (DPI)
This is a refreshing feature, as earlier there were specific size fonts that one can select. But with the introduction of changing the DPI, this has completely changed. Previously applying different font size was only applicable to Settings area, but now the new build allows three elements change – messaging, app drawer and settings. These various areas offer different types of size change; small, default, Large, Larger and Largest. This is the feature that developers would applaud, as well as many power users would love it. Making the system think that it’s got a larger or small screen depending upon the needs is possible with DPI change. It was previously possible with third-party apps when rooted, or else with adb on non-rooted devices. It has now become a system-level feature, thus making it easy to switch back and forth when needed. You can access this feature from Settings> Display> Display Size.
In case you are wondering about the Android N wallpaper. It is noticeable that the new wallpaper, which is quite pretty and brings the first new change. You’ll be seeing this everywhere today, well, at least on all developer’s hand with Nexus devices. Currently, it is the only wallpaper that is available as a fresh part of the Android N. And for your information, it has a default resolution of 2880 x 2560. Yes, it’s that huge. We have been using the Android N Preview Build for couple of hours since it came out. The above features are some of the highlight of the latest build. If you have any queries, we are looking forward to that in the comments section below.
Note: If you want to try out the Android N Preview Build, join the Beta Program from the Google’s official website. This year company has made it quite easy for users who don’t like hassling through the factory images to try out the early release of the latest mobile operating software from the company. With the beta program, you can easily get the latest build via OTA update as well as unroll the old update if you don’t like the build.