Android N Developer Preview Review

I installed the Android N Developer Preview 5 this morning (July 19th, 2016), Build number: NPD90G. This is the final build before Google announces the official release. Here are my thoughts and review.

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Android Beta Program 7.0 (NPD90G)

Disclaimer: Although it is a near stable version, this is still beta software. So your mileage may vary.

I’m currently using a 32GB Midnight Blue Nexus 6 as my daily driver. Although it is not one of last year’s Nexus devices, it is capable enough to run through the elements of this new version of Android with no problem.

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Android 7.0 on the Google Nexus 6

A huge focus of Android 7.0 was multitasking and productivity.

Android N will feature two types of multitasking, these being:

  1. Split-screen: on mobile, long pressing the “overview” or “recent apps” button while having an app open allows you to select a second one from the app switcher to run in split-screen mode.
  2. Picture-in-picture: on Android TV devices such as the Nexus Player or the Nvidia Shield TV running Android N, apps can put themselves in picture-in-picture, allowing them to continue showing content while the user browses or interacts with other apps.
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Split-screen multitasking on Android N allows you to do things like watch a YouTube video while checking your Twitter account.

 

Battery life has improved noticeably thanks to Doze and new Background Optimizations, essentially the system checks which of the apps that are running in the background are not being used and closes them to enhance performance and durability. I have been able to get around 3 1/2 to 4 hours of screen-on time, and make it through the day with about 15% charge left.

Gone is the dreaded Android is Upgrading dialog, thanks to the JIT compiler and Seamless Updates on newer devices running Android N. The device will automatically download the OTA update and install it on a secondary partition. The next time you reboot your device, Android will switch partitions and you’ll have the latest Android version up and running without having to worry about doing it yourself.

Another feature in Android N is built-in Virtual Reality (VR) support. With apps like:

  1. VR Roller Coaster
  2. Pokemon Go
  3. Titans of Space
  4. Insurgent

adding more and more functionally. It is interesting what the future holds.

Notifications have also been enhanced with features such as:

  1. Direct Reply: on SMS and MMS communication apps, the system allows you to compose a reply from the notification interface to an incoming message.
  2. Bundled Notifications: groups notifications by app and message topic.

A welcomed addition is the inclusion of quick toggles in the notification shade, these will allow you to control things such as wifi, cellular hotspot, orientation lock, do not disturb and the flashlight.

No longer Namey Mcnameface, on June 30th, 2016 Google announced via Snapchat that Android N will in fact be named Android 7.0 Nougat. The easter egg also changed a bit.

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Android 7.0 Easter Egg

Except for the occasional app crashes here and there, it has been a pretty smooth experience using the beta preview. As more developers continue to update their apps to support the new APIs, the User Experience shall noticeably improve.

There will be more coverage to come, as the official release approaches. Thanks for reading.

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