Google has released the Developer Preview of major versions of Android at its I/O conference, but this year, the company is surprising everyone by releasing the preview build of Android N today.
Android N builds on the features that Google introduced with Marshmallow last year. Most importantly, the hidden split screen mode found in Marshmallow is now finally ready for primetime, and to make things even better, Google will be making this feature available on smartphones as well. Taking a cue out of iOS 9, Google is also introducing a ‘picture in picture’ mode that will allow you to run apps in tiny floating windows.
As leaks had earlier pointed, Android N comes with a redesigned notification panel that sees the quick toggles being moved towards the very top. The panel now has a sleeker look and more information density. Some new features added to it include the ability to reply to notifications right from within the notification panel; and multiple notifications from the same app can now be ‘bundled’ into a single line, which can then be expanded by using the two-finger gesture or by tapping the expand button beside them.
Google is also improving Doze in Android N, one of the many power optimisations introduced in Marshmallow. Doze now works even when a device is moving with its display off. Previously, the feature kicked in only when your Android device was lying stationary for a certain amount of time. Additionally, Google has further optimised Android N to run better on low-end hardware, which is important looking at how cheap Android smartphones are all the rage right now.
A major developer oriented change in Android N is the switch to OpenJDK, which comes along with the update to Java 8. This allows developers to use many of the new features present in Java 8. Google’s ”Jack” compiler will take care of backward compatibility starting with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, so developers can use Java 8 without worrying about deserting their users running ancient Android devices.
The Developer Preview builds of Android N are available for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and the Pixel C. Google plans on rolling out at least four more preview builds of Android N over the next few months, before releasing the final version of Android N to OEMs and AOSP in Q3, 2016.
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