For months, we have been waiting for the arrival of Android N. While the developer preview for Android 7.0 Nougat has been floating around for quite some time, the operating system was rolled out officially via OTAs on August 22nd, 2016. As with the previous rollouts, the Nexus devices were one of the first to receive the update. So for those of you not using a Nexus device, you’ll have to sit tight and wait for your OEMs to carry out their update plans.
The new version of Android comes with a good number of changes. While there hasn’t been a massive change in the look and feel (as had happened with the arrival of Material Design on Android 5.0 Lollipop), there have been some great tweaks. These tweaks are either targeted towards improving user productivity by enabling support for multi-tasking or just enhancing the overall performance of the operating system.
Here’s a list of some of the new features you can look forward to.
Best Android 7.0 Nougat Features
- Smarter Notifications
Nougat takes a step towards improving the notifications experience by allowing the user to view bundled notifications and taking some ‘Quick Actions’ on them. This is one of the changes that users will see right away as they begin to use Nougat on their devices. The design is flat and makes use of the entire device width thereby minimizing any wastage of space.
The ‘multi-layered’ take on notifications is extremely useful and will definitely be one of the more productive updates in this release. Drilling down on this layered notification layout, we see that notifications on the lock screen are the most compact. Upon unlocking the screen and tapping the notification one can expand it and view more information about it without having to open the app. You can also perform actions on the notification. For example, tapping on a Gmail notification provides you with the option to directly reply to the email from within the notifications shade or archive it or delete it.
You can also press and hold down on a notification to bring up a menu that lets you silence or block notifications. You can access this menu by swiping in on the notification from either side and clicking on the gear icon that appears.
The notification revamp is extremely handy and all you need to do is tap! A single tap lets you view the information at any level you want, concise or detailed.
- Personalized Quick Settings
Another new update can be seen in the Quick Settings section. You will always have access to any five settings in the notification shade henceforth. As with previous versions, you can toggle any of these settings on/off. You can also customize the five settings at the top as per your choice. Clicking on the arrow at the right side of the screen will take you to the whole list of settings. You can then rearrange the settings to place the ones you use most frequently on the top.
The edit button visible upon expanding the settings menu, let’s you replace some of the settings with newer ones in addition to moving them around to make them more accessible. While the list of extra settings is pretty limited (data saver, hotspot, invert color) etc, it definitely adds to the customizability and gives users the option to experiment.
- Multi-Window Support / Split Screen
This one has been a long time coming. The split screen feature is not new. It’s been present in quite a few custom ROMs, so it was a matter of time that it got to stock Android.The developers have finally responded the users’ request and provided support for multi-tasking. This feature is bound to be useful for tablet users or those with larger phone screens who might want to do multiple tasks like making notes on Keep while reading an article or browsing the gallery for bills while adding them to Splitwise. Although some apps may not work with this mode.
Split Screen works in both device orientations: portrait and landscape. Apps are however, resizable only in the portrait mode.
There are several ways to get to this feature
- Click on the overview button and scroll through the app preview cards. Long press on the app you wish to launch in multi-window mode and drag it to the top of the screen. In the bottom half of the screen, you can see the app picker and choose the second app.
- Long pressing the overview button when using an app can also launch this mode.
- Enable a gesture to activate the mode.
The bar between the apps allows you to resize the apps.
To exit split screen mode, simply pull the bar all the way to the top. You can also long press on the recent apps button to exit and let the primary app fill up the entire screen.
- Quick Switch between apps
The recent apps button can now be used as a sort of toggle between the two most recent apps in your app tray. When using an app, tap on the button to alternate between it and the next app in the tray.
- Vulkan API
The Vulkan API provides support for low-overhead, high performance 3D graphics. Nougat brings support for the API on compatible hardware, promising to provide gaming enthusiasts with an amazing experience complete with great special effects.
With Daydream, Google has brought the world of virtual reality apps to consumers. While the immersive experience is likely to necessitate some sort of hardware capability(applies only to DayDream-ready phones), it doesn’t seem a long shot to predict that owners of a Nexus and Google Cardboard(Google’s DIY wearable that enables users to enjoy VR experiences at minimal prices straight from their phones) will be one of the first to try it. The virtual reality mode in Android Nougat will be able to deliver this on phones capable of working with theDaydream VR platform.
- Doze while on the move
Coming up the alley is a significant improvement in the battery life of your device. Now your phone will go into low power usage mode while you are not using it. So if you’re walking and your phone is in your pocket or your purse, you will not be losing a lot of power. This is a great addition since you won’t have to manually go and switch on Battery Saver mode from the settings every-time you decide to go for a walk.The catch here is that your screen obviously needs to be off and depending on your level of activity, the level of doze will vary.
- Direct Boot
This helps the device startup faster and ensure that important communications such as incoming calls or alarms are running even before you have typed in your PIN or password.
- File Based Encryption
Google has now moved away from the disk based encryption in Marshmallow to a file based encryption system. This ensures that user data and content is much better protected (since stuff is now encrypted at file level) while device encrypted content such as app notifications and calls can be accessed by Direct Boot to allow it to go straight to the lock screen.
10.Android for Work
From blocking work related notifications once you’re off for the day to configuring VPNs, Android brings something for the professionals this time. With a focus towards achieving a stronger work-life balance, Work mode lets you setup a Work profile, provide stronger security mechanisms and abide with company security policies on specific apps such as your office mail client without messing with any of your other apps.
- Easter Egg: Go into Settings > About Phone. Tap on the Android version multiple times till a large N appears on the screen. Press and hold on the N and a small cat while appear between the hills. If you now go to your quick settings menu and customize it, a new option called ‘Android Easter Egg’ is visible. Add it to your menu and click on Empty Dish which lets you choose the animal you want to see next time among the hills. Not a fancy flappy bird game like last time but an easter egg is always fun!
- Do Not Disturb: Choose from Total Silence, Alarms only and Priority to adjust notifications or calls to work with your schedule. You can create time rules for each mode or leave them on indefinitely (till you choose to switch between them)
- Data Saver: Like battery saver, this lets you deny data access to apps working in the background while being connected to cellular data.
- Seamless Updates:On specific devices, the OS updates will download and install in the background without hampering your existing work. This means that OS updates will be installed in a different system partition.
- Display Size:You can now change the display size for text messages and icons and improve the overall user experience. Simply slide right to make everything larger.
- Revamped Settings Menu: The settings menu now comes with the essential information for each setting on the main page. So if you’re on a Wi-Fi network, going to the Wi-Fi section will show you what you’re connected to or if you’re paired via Bluetooth before going into the Bluetooth menu you can see who you’re paired to.
- Multi-Language Support and Emojis:A large number of colourful Unicode 9 emojis have been brought to Android 7. Support has also been provided to enable users to set primary and secondary locales. A useful update for frequent travelers and those speaking multiple languages on a daily basis.
- Clear All from Recent Apps: This option, present on the upper right side of the screen when flipping through the recent apps, lets you clear out all the apps in one shot and help keep the tray less cluttered. In fact, you will find that Nougat keeps clearing out apps that you haven’t used in a while from the history, keeping the tray clean and letting you choose the ones that you use most often.
- Scoped Folder Access:This means that you can now allow/deny apps access to specific folders just like with permissions.
- JIT Compiler: Improves system performance by reducing the storage and RAM required by apps and making system updates happen faster.
Other stuff to look out for
- Night Mode
Nougat has introduced some great performance improvements and focused on enhancing the user experience. Definitely leads to some anticipation as people eagerly await the rollout of the updates to a broader range of devices.