Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Google’s Android N released for developers

This initial preview release is for developers only and not intended for daily use or consumers

New Delhi: Android N has been released, albeit in a rather low-key manner, unlike its earlier versions which were released amid much fanfare at the Google I/O in May every year. The company released the developer preview of Android N on Wednesday and explained why on the Android Developer Blog. “We’re doing something a little different this year by releasing the preview early… really early. By releasing a ‘work in progress’ build earlier in development, we have more time to incorporate developer feedback. Also, the earlier preview allows us to hand off the final N release to device makers this summer, so they can get their hands on the latest version of Android earlier than ever. We’re looking forward to getting your feedback as you get your apps ready for N."

This initial preview release is for developers only and not intended for daily use or consumers and can be downloaded on Google’s Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9 and Pixel C devices.

Here’s a look at the new, innovative features that Android N offers:

Multi-window support:

The first big feature is a multi-window support, which enables users to open two apps on the screen at once. On phones and tablets running Android N, users can run two apps side-by-side or one-above-the-other in a split screen mode. Additionally, users can resize the apps by dragging the divider between them. On Android TV devices, apps can put themselves in picture-in-picture mode, allowing them to continue showing content while the user browses or interacts with other apps.

There is the option to configure the multi-window display. For example, you can specify your activity’s minimum allowable dimensions, so that the activity is never re-sized below that size. You can also disable multi-window display for your app, which ensures that the system will only show your app in full-screen mode.

Notification enhancement

Android N has redesigned notifications to make them easier and faster to use.

For instance, now the Android system will support direct reply to help users quickly respond to an SMS or text message directly within the notification interface. Users will also be able to bundle notifications together, for example by message topic, and display the group. This would make it easier for the user to take actions such as dismiss or archive.

More efficiency with Doze

Android 6.0 introduced Doze, a system mode that saves battery when the device is idle, such as when it’s sitting on a table or in a drawer. In Android N, Doze goes a step further and saves battery while on the go. This means users can save battery even when carrying their devices in their pockets.

Number-blocking

Android N now supports number-blocking in the platform and provides a framework API to let service providers maintain a blocked-number list. The default SMS app, the default phone app, and provider apps can read from and write to the blocked-number list. Also, numbers blocked on calls are also blocked on texts. According to the blog, blocked numbers can persist across resets and devices through the Backup & Restore feature. Besides multiple apps can use the same blocked numbers list.

Call screening

Android N allows the default phone app to screen incoming calls by implementing the new Call Screening Service, which allows the phone app to perform a number of actions based on an incoming call, such as reject the incoming call, do not allow the call to the call log and even not show the user a notification for the call.

Multi-locale support, more languages

Android N now lets users select multiple locales in Settings, to better support bilingual use-cases. Along with this, Android N also expands the range of languages available to users. It offers more than 25 variants each for commonly used languages such as English, Spanish, French, and Arabic. It also adds partial support for more than 100 new languages.

As for Google’s name for the Android N version, it could be anything from Nuts to Nutella. Keep guessing.

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