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Google release surprise Android N developer preview [Photos]

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Google has surprised everyone by announcing the Android N Developer Preview, the next major Android release. And to make things even easier for developers — and adventurous users — you can now update your Android devices to the Android N developer preview using an over-the-air update through the new Android Beta Program

Hiroshi Lockheimer, head of Android at Google posted on Medium about the early release of Android N developer preview. Regarding the name, he said “We’re not tellin’ you yet”. So it could even be called Nutella, but it is highly unlikely since the post title says it’s Not Named yet.

The expectation was that Google wouldn’t start talking about Android N until its 2016 I/O developer conference in May. Instead, it decided on a very different approach – by posting the Android N Developer Preview for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Pixel C, Nexus 9, and the Nexus Player. Stable release will be available in Q3 2016.

Google has been working hard on matching Windows and iOS by building a native side-by-side app mode in Android. For Android N, the feature is apparently ready for prime time. Some of the features released are shown on the slide below.

[tie_slideshow] [tie_slide]Slide 1 | Multi-Window support: Android N adds Multi-Window support to run two apps side-by-side or one-above-the-other in split-screen mode. Apps that support this will be able to run side-by-side with other apps on both tablets and phones (and developers can set the minimum allowable dimensions for their apps). Multi-windows support is something users have long asked for — especially on tablets. Google’s own Pixel-C, for example, would make a far better productivity device with this feature.

Android N developer preview

Multi-Window support. / © Rubiztech

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[tie_slide]Slide 2 | You can drag the dividing line separating the two to make one app larger and the other smaller.

Android N developer preview

Dividing Line on Multi-Window support. / © Rubiztech

[/tie_slide] [tie_slide]Slide 3 | Picture-in-picture mode: Besides a basic side-by-side mode, Android N will also offer a picture-in-picture mode so video apps can play while users are interacting with another app in the corner on Android TV devices, for example.

Android N developer preview

Picture-in-picture mode. / © Rubiztech

[/tie_slide] [tie_slide]Slide 4 | Notifications: Android N brings several new APIs that allow apps to post notifications that are highly visible and interactive.This allows users to quickly respond from the notification shade without visiting the app. It also allows to bundle similar notifications to appear as a single notification. Users can expand each of the notifications, and perform actions such as reply and dismiss on each of the notifications, individually from the notification shade.

Direct Reply in Android N lets users quickly respond to text messages or update task lists directly within the notification interface. The inline reply action appears as an additional button attached to the notification. When a user replies via keyboard, the system attaches the text response to the intent you had specified for the notification action and sends the intent to the app.

The bundled notifications is similar to the Notification Stacks feature in Android Wear. For example, if your app creates notifications for received messages, when more than one message is received, bundle the notifications together as a single group. You can progressively expand the notification group, and the system shows more information as you drill deeper. When the bundle in expanded, the system reveals more information for all its child notifications; when you expand one of those notifications, the system reveals its entire content.

Android N developer preview

Notifications / © Rubiztech

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[tie_slide]Slide 5 |Data Saver: The new Data Saver that can be enabled device-wide basis in order to use less data. When a user enables Data Saver in Settings and the device is on a metered network, the system blocks background data usage and signals apps to use less data in the foreground wherever possible. Users can whitelist specific apps to allow background metered data usage even when Data Saver is turned on.

Android N developer preview

Data Saver. / © Rubiztech

[/tie_slide] [tie_slide]Slide 6 | Quik Settings API: Android N adds additional Quick Settings tiles, which users can access across a paginated display area by swiping left or right. It also gives users more control over what Quick Settings tiles appear and where they are displayed — users can add or move tiles just by dragging and dropping them.

Android N developer preview

Quick Settings API: / © Rubiztech

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The gallery above shows off the features, which works on tablets and phones— some which looks a lot like what is currently shipping on Samsung phones.

Other important new features in Android N Developer Preview are:

  • Call screening: Android N allows the default phone app to screen incoming calls.
  • Number-blocking: Android N now supports number-blocking. The default SMS app, the default phone app, and provider apps can read from and write to the blocked-number list. Multiple apps can use the same blocked numbers list and carriers can read the blocked numbers list on the device and perform service-side blocking for the user in order to stop unwanted calls and texts from reaching the user.
  • TV Recording: Android N lets you record and playback content from Android TV input services via new recording APIs. Users can schedule recordings in advance, or start a recording as they watch a program.
  • Locales and languages: Android N adds multi-locale support, more than 25 variants each for commonly used languages such as English, Spanish, French, and Arabic and partial support for more than 100 new languages.
  • Direct boot: This feature improves device startup times and lets registered apps have limited functionality even after an unexpected reboot.
  • Doze on the go: This makes the device go to Doze mode even when the screen is off for a period of time and the device is unplugged. Doze applies a subset of the familiar CPU and network restrictions to apps.
  • Project Svelte: It is a new background optimization to minimize RAM use by system and apps across the range of Android devices in the ecosystem.

Google warns that this Android N developer preview release is very much a work in progress. Stressing that “for developers only and not intended for daily use or consumer use.” Google will probably add a few more features over time, but for now, it is talking about just a few of the highlights of this new release.

Those are all the features Google announced, but we haven’t gotten to try out Android N developer preview yet for ourselves. There are certainly plenty more goodies hidden inside. Have you tried loading it up? Let’s hear your experience using the comment box below.

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