Google has been making a lot of waves with the surprise release of Android N Developer Preview and unlike Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Android N seems like a major release. Even though the first Android N release has been dubbed as a Developer Preview, anyone with one of the supported Nexus devices can install it via Android Beta Program. But before you go ahead, it should be a good idea to know about the features that Android N brings. Well, that’s what we are about to tell you!
While the first Android N release is quite an early preview and we can expect more changes in the months to come, it gives us a good idea of what we can expect from the final release. So, here are the Android N features you should know about:
1. Split-screen multitasking
We have been waiting for a multi-window mode for stock Android since a long time and Google has finally heard us. Android N includes support for split-screen multitasking, which should especially come in handy for smartphones packing huge displays and tablets like the Pixel C. You can enable the multi-window mode by press holding the Recents button when inside an app. There’s also ability to resize the split-screen windows along with the ability to switch apps quickly by double tapping the Recents/multitasking button.
2. Enhanced Notifications
The notification shade and the notifications have gone through a nice little revamp in Android N. There’s now improved support for bundled notifications from a single app and a user can expand bundled notifications into individual notifications. The notifications also show more info in the notifications shade and they feature a more page like layout. Also, Android N brings support for inline reply actions, which means you can reply to a message, update task lists directly from the notification shade.
3. Improved Quick Settings
The Quick Settings in Android’s notification center has gone through some minor yet notable changes. With Android N, the first five settings are available in the notification shade, without you having to swipe down. Also, you can now move toggles around, add more and have more than one pane of Quick Settings.
4. Data Saver Mode
If you have had problems with apps automatically eating up all your data in the background on Android, you will surely appreciate Android N’s Data Saver mode. The Data Saver mode restricts background data usage on a metered connection. The feature also automatically signals apps to use less data even in foreground. If you want some particular apps to use background data even when the Data Saver mode is turned on, you can add them to the whitelist.
5. UI Changes
The Android N Preview does not bring a major overhaul to the Material Design looks but there are a few decent UI changes. We already told you about the changes in the notifications center and other than that, the Settings page has been revamped. The Settings page now shows you more info below every option. For instance, the WiFi option shows you the network you are connected to, right in the Settings page. It also brings suggestions of options at the top, that you might have missed out on.
The revamped Settings page also notifies you of any option that might be turned on like Battery Saver, Data Saver, Do not disturb etc. A hamburger menu is also included, which will be seen when you are in a sub-menu to let you jump to one of the main menus.
Other UI changes include a Dark Mode, which first made its debut in Android M Preview but did not make it to the final release. It’s back now and with a lot of new additional features. The Dark Mode dubbed as Night Mode is for people who aren’t really fans of stock Android’s whitish user interface. The Night Mode can now be switched automatically depending on your location and time of day. There’s also ability to adjust tint and brightness.
6. Screen Zoom
If you feel that the text size or an icon in Android is too small for your liking, the new Screen Zoom feature in Android N should come to your rescue. Screen Zoom is nothing but the ability to change your screen’s DPI manually. The ability to change DPI on Android was previously available only on rooted Android devices but with the arrival of Android N, it’s a native feature. You can set the DPI to small, default, large, larger or largest, depending to your preference. The Screen Zoom not only works on text but on all UI elements, so it should come in handy for people who want smaller or larger UI elements on their device’s display.
7. Improved Doze and Background Optimizations
Android 6.0 Marshmallow‘s Doze mode is a much appreciated feature, which holds off CPU & network activities when the device is in an idle state for long to extend battery life. Android N takes Doze a step further, as it now works when the device’s screen has been turned off for quite some time. This is certainly a good upgrade since our smartphones don’t remain idle most of the time. Moreover, when the device is idle, Doze will make sure that there are no wakelocks, network access, GPS or WiFi scans and alarm activities will be deferred. The new Doze mode in Android N should certainly be good news for all Android users facing battery woes. Other than that, Android N also includes background optimizations for more efficient power consumption and memory use.
8. Number Blocking and Call Screening
Android N finally brings the ability to block calls and messages from specific numbers natively. Google is also offering an API for number blocking, so that service providers can access the blocked numbers and block them from the server as well. That should make sure that the blocked numbers don’t reach you even through other mediums like VOIP or forwarding. The list of blocked numbers will also be available to access by multiple apps and the numbers will be synced through Android’s backup feature. So, even if you change your device, those numbers will remain blocked.
The dialer app on Android N also supports call screening, which not only lets you reject calls from telemarketers & spammers but also make sure that those calls don’t reach your call log or your notifications.
9. Picture in Picture Support & TV Recording
With Android N, Android TV users will have the ability to see a pop-up video in a corner, while you navigate across other apps. Picture in Picture (PIP) support uses the multi window APIs to make sure that you can multitask with ease on your Android TV. That’s not all, as Android TV with Android N also includes the TV Recording feature. Thanks to time-shifting APIs, Android TV users will be able to schedule a recording in advance or record while you are watching.
10. Android for Work updates
Android N also includes tons of new updates aimed at the enterprise. The new updates include support for QR code scanning for companies to easily provision corporate devices to their employees. Also, companies will now be able to control an employee’s device even more, thanks to Android N’s ability to disable access to some apps and lock down different UI elements. There are also other features aimed at the enterprise market like always on VPN, contact integration with work profile, remote reboot & bug reports, enterprise data logging and more.
Like the new Android N features?
While these are the major features of Android N Developer Preview, there are other features like support for multi-lingual users and under the hood updates like Java 8 language features, ICU4J support etc. Moreover, there are other hidden changes waiting to be unlocked. We can also expect Google to add more features with updates till Android N releases to everyone later this fall. Don’t worry, we’ll keep updating this page, as Google adds more features.
So, what do you think of these Android N features? Sound off in the comments section below.