The Android operating system is primed to receive another major update, currently titled Android N.
Google recently released the Android N Developer Preview which provides an early view of what the final software might look like when it is released later this year. In its current form the preview is available on several Nexus platforms including: Nexus Player, Nexus 9, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Pixel C.
This new update includes several new features as well as tweaks on existing features, some of which are highlighted below.
Update: We now know, by the way, that Android N is called New York Cheesecake internally by Google. It’s unclear if that will be the final name of the operating system, but it’s what people are starting to call it already.
Increasing the efficiency of the device is Google’s primary concern of any major update.
We’ve already seen this with the battery saving program known as Doze. Doze restricts CPU and network usage to certain apps in an effort to reduce the amount of power they consume. In the previous version Doze would only activate after a prolonged period of time of inactivity on the device.
With Android N, Doze will activate after a “short” amount of time when the screen is turned off. Doze should not affect any major operations of the phone while it is in operation.
In a similar vein, a new feature called Data Saver has been included in the update. Data Saver will let you personally choose which programs are allowed or prioritized with the usage of data. Notably it would also reduce background data usage that can be common for certain apps.
This feature could be quite useful if you find yourself frequently bumping up against your data limit.
New and Improved UI
If “efficiency improvements” are the first thing we see in every OS update, then “new and improved UI” is always the second thing.
In an effort to increase ease of use in their operating system, Android N updates a few key user interface screens.
The Settings UI has been overhauled from its clunky scroll of options into a hamburger button styled menu. It appears to have a much more intuitive feel whilst not overloading the user with a complex menu of choices.
Similarly, the System UI tuner, which was included with the Marshmallow update, has been overhauled and retooled. The System UI tuner allows users to customize the appearance and options for quick settings and the status bar.
Unique New Features
One of the most exciting new features of this update is Window Sharing. Similar to how window sharing exists on the Windows platform, multiple windows from different apps can be open simultaneously on the screen.
In its current form you can have two apps running in two different setups either on the left and right or on the top and bottom of the screen. Additionally, a Picture in Picture feature has been included in the update, likely being most applicable to Android TV devices.
Another new feature (something that Google apparently first considered adding to Marshmallow) is Night Mode. Night mode allows users to change the tint of their screen across the entire system. It has an auto mode which will automatically activate depending on the time of the day. It can be found within the System UI tuner menu.
As with any major update, there are bound to be some minor aesthetics changes. The appearance of the battery percentage icon can be set as to when it should appear (so you don’t need to know if you have 95% battery life, but you can set it to alert you when you’re under 50% battery life, when life gets more important).
You can also customize the display of the time to a few different designs.
The color of the screen can also be re-calibrated to specific, red, green, and blue values.
In addition, there are a few new gestures for the recents buttons that have already been detailed by Google.
As it stands, there has been one new wallpaper released with the preview, although it should be expected to have a few more at the full release.
Stay tuned to the Search 4 Roots blog for more information about Android N (“New York Cheesecake”) as we move forward!