Android Nougat: Peel the wrapper, and a smarter OS emerges4 min read . Updated: 25 Aug 2016, 10:40 AM IST
The latest Android OS is a mix of completely new stuffmore polish to existing features and improvements to increase performance and battery life
Google chose what is essentially a sweet made from sugar or honey, roasted nuts, and egg white, as the name for the latest Android operating system. Yes, final wrapper has been taken off Android Nougat (the more tech savvy people would probably refer to this as Android 7.0), and the tasty new software is now rolling out. This is the point where owners of the Nexus 6 (made by Motorola), Nexus 5X (made by LG) and the Nexus 6P (made by Huawei) smartphones can rejoice, because they will now be getting the new notification to download the new Android update anytime over the next few days, if not already.
As it emerges, the latest Android operating system is a mix of completely new stuff, a bit more polish to existing features and under-the-hood improvements to enhance performance and battery life. We have had the chance to use Android Nougat on the Nexus 6P device, and this is how the experience has panned out so far.
Android Nougat now has added the ability to send a reply to a new message notification itself. This means that if you see a message on the lock screen of the phone, or there is a pop-up at the top of the screen while you may be using some other app, you can simply tap on that, type in your reply and send. It negates the need to switch from the app you were using at the time to go to the other app and then draft a reply. It will be up to the app developers to make full use of this feature, but out of the box, apps such as Gmail Hangouts already support instant replies.
Secondly, you get easier controls for individual apps in Android Nougat. When a notification pops up on the phone, just press and hold it to toggle the settings. It is rather convenient to be able to silence future alerts from an app in the notification itself.
Tweaked quick settings
One feature that has remained constant in Android over the years is the slide down access to certain quick settings. Now, when you slide down from the notification bar on the top of the screen, you get a different layer of quick settings, and swiping again opens a larger set of options, same as earlier. We feel this is rather neat.
Google has finally taken a page out of Samsung’s book for this feature. In Android Nougat, the built-in multi-tasking allows you to run two apps side by side, as they share the same screen space.
You can drag the dividing line to give one app more space. This can be extremely relevant if you are working on two apps at the same time. To use this, you need to open the task manager, long press the app you want to add to multi-window, and drag it upwards.
Google has focused on the battery life improvement, and Doze mode which was also a part of the Android Marshmallow operating system, has now been upgraded. First, whenever the phone’s screen is off, Doze cuts off all unnecessary background processes for apps which are not optimized to work with Doze—worry not, you will not miss a Whatsapp message from a friend. With Android Nougat, Google has also tweaked the way the OS uses the memory, which will improve performance on devices that aren’t very powerful.
Clear it all
Google has now added the Clear All button allowing you to close all the running apps in one shot. This is found on the top right corner of the task manager screen. Incidentally, a lot of phone makers such as OnePlus have been adding a clear-all-apps functionality in their custom interfaces for quite a while now. No need to manually close each app that may be running in the background.
Google is changing the way phones running Android Nougat get future software updates, whether they are incremental, periodic security updates or major version changes. Now, the new software will be downloaded seamlessly in the background without any need for user input, and the upgrade will happen the next time the phone is rebooted. We suspect the big reason for this is the need to push out security updates to phones quickly, and while a rather noble gesture from Google, it still does not solve the problem of manufacturers not rolling out updates for their phones.
Android Nougat has been developed with big screen phones in mind, and that is clear from the fact that Google has added features such as multi-window and tweaked the quick settings, all of which become even more usable. Overall, everything in Nougat seems more polished compared to Marshmallow, which itself never felt like a rough manger anyway. While the potential improvements in battery life will only be understood in the long run, we are quite liking the tweaks done to Android to make everything more useable.