Google makes Android N official with first Developer Preview release

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Well, this is a bit of a surprise. In recent years, Google has used I/O to start teasing its next major Android release, but today Google just decided to drop Android N and its first developer Preview.

The first Android N Developer Preview is now live, and you can install it if you have a Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Pixel C, Nexus 9, or Nexus Player. Google is offering factory images for all devices so that you can flash Android N now, and the company is also launching an Android Beta Program today to make it easy for developers to install N and get future updates over the air.

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As for what’s new in Android N, Google has made some big additions. Perhaps the biggest is multi-window support, which will let you run two apps side-by-side. The feature is enabled on phones and tablets, and the images show a black bar dividing the two apps, suggesting that you’ll be able to resize the windows. Google is also throwing in a picture-in-picture mode, which sounds like it’ll let you view a video in a small window while performing other tasks.

Another big change coming with Android N involves notifications. Google has refreshed the look of the notification bar, ditching the card look found in Marshmallow and making the bar span the full width of the display. Notifications now support quick replies, letting you respond to messages directly from the notification, and there’s also support for bundled notifications. That feature will group multiple notifications from the same app together, and that group can be expanded to let you deal with each alert individually.

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There also appear to be some Quick Settings toggles up at the top of the notification shade. In Marshmallow, you’d have to access the Quick Settings panel to see any of these toggles, but Android N appears to include a few at the top of the notification shade for even easier access.

One other notable change included in Android N is an improved version of Doze mode. In Marshmallow, Doze would help your device to save battery while it was stationary, but N extends that feature to save battery whenever the screen turns off.

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Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer says that the final version of Android N will be delivered to manufacturers this summer, and Google’s Android N overview adds a bit more info, saying that the public release will be given to OEMs in Q3 2016. In the meantime, Google will push out updates of this Android N Developer Preview to squash bugs, improve its new features, and get feedback ahead of the public release.

There will almost assuredly be more new features found in Android N as folks dig into the Developer Preview, but the ones that we know of right now sound pretty nice. The multi-window app support will make using Android for productivity much more doable, especially on tablets like the Pixel C and Nexus 9, and the notification shade is more powerful with quick replies and toggles up top. So far, Android N is looking like it’ll greatly improve Android’s ability to get things done.

If you’re feeling brave and decide to load Android N up onto a compatible Nexus device, be sure to share your first impressions with all of us!

Sources: Android Developers Blog, Medium

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  • Pitahson

    Annnnnnnnddddddd nexus users rejoice. And Samsung guys… Marshmallow much? Oh wait…

    • Cellphone Chris

      I honestly don’t see the big deal – TW already had all of the “new” features shown above.

      • Jose Hernandez

        The big deal is that now those features are not only on Samsung devices with TW, but will now be on all devices running Android. Anyone will be able to take advantage of them from Android N and forward.

      • peharri

        Well, not everyone uses Samsung devices…

        Even then, a significant part of this is standardization. The ability to support windows, for example, has been a bone of contention for a while, as virtually every implementation has been non-standard and as a result poorly supported. Samsung’s been able to get away with it through sheer force of market power, but other companies have been told it’s technically a violation of their Play suite license to have support for resizable/etc windows in their versions of Android.

        So having Google finally support something is a fairly major step forward. You might not see the features as new, but you will see more support for them – more apps that work with them, and more apps that assume the functionality is there.

    • skywalkr2

      Samsung doesn’t care as they have been leading in improvements to Android for some time. which is why Google is trying to incorporate Samsung’s features in the default O/S. The person that should care is Apple who falls further and further behind.

      • donnybee

        Who names a person Apple?

        • thepanttherlady

          Gwyneth Paltrow

  • YABD

    N for Nutella.

  • Cellphone Chris

    Am I the only one that noticed these “new” features are already on my Note 5 running Lollipop? How ironic – the Nexus folks tend to hate Touchwiz!

    • George Salcedo

      Touch Wiz blows hard

    • Android_God

      Have you considered you’re taking this a tad too seriously? There comes a point where people start to wonder why you take negative comments about Touchwood so seriously!

      • Antwan Reynolds

        I’m sure Samsung touches their wood all the time.

      • Cellphone Chris

        Not at all! I honestly don’t evangelize any device/OS/platform. Whatever works for you is fine by me – My comment should be taken at face value.

  • cameo

    Nexus 5 is not on the list. Why?

    • AJ2

      Cuz its over 2 years old

      • FILA

        yeaa, but I saw a leak a couple weeks ago of a N build on a Nexus 5, of course it was a mock up from supposedly a leaked image. I really hope they support the Nexus 5 this time specially, because they see how many users like myself and the dude above who use a Nexus 5, itd be the right thing to do, but I know it might be to good to be true :-( Cant root, because Android Pay wont work. We can only hope for Google making the perfect Nexus 5 replacement later this year

        • cameo

          Or maybe we should switch to iPhone. Those are supported longer then 2 years, aren’t they?

        • FILA

          yea they are, but its not as cool. lol. Most of us here, will never switch

        • Ordeith

          I have a 3½ year old Windows Phone running Windows 10.
          But I understand Android users shouldn’t really expect updates anyway.

  • Mueller2052

    I read somewhere that they were going to get rid of the app drawer I hope that’s not going to be the case. that’s reason I didn’t go with the LG 5

    • FILA

      Just load a different launcher on it. Nova is among the best

    • MisterSuperGod

      No app drawer!? i say BAH! to that idea.
      It ain’t broken, don’t go fixin’ it.

    • skywalkr2

      I also do not understand the removal of the app drawer. I do NOT want all the apps on my “desktop”.

    • guest

      They should have put the apps(drawer) shortcut in the pull down menu, next to the settings shortcut.

      And we can put all apps that we don’t want on the “desktop” on a single folder, maybe even organize them in various folders.

    • JTrip

      The LG G5 has an app drawer. You have to enable it. It’s turned of by default.

  • MisterSuperGod

    Yeesh! i haven’t had the pleasure of Lollipop nor Marshmallow yet and Google’s getting ready to punch out another OS. Pace yourselves Skynet! :)

    • guest

      I guess they just want more phones moving of the shelves by outdating Android versions as fast as possible.

      Do they get money for every phones sold?

      • MisterSuperGod

        Good question.
        i would think not (sans the Nexus line) but i could be wrong.

  • HeatFan786

    I want Google to make a new messaging service that is similar to What’s App or iMessage. Hangouts came up short.

  • Ordeith

    It seems Windows users are experiencing the future, today. :)

  • Michael Elkin

    Isn’t it funny how Google is fixing problems it created itself. For notifications, I always hated the cards, wasted space is horrible, especially for a small device, but notifications are still too big (too tall) and I still have not seen the long claimed dark mode. As for Doze, who ever thought that making only stationary in 6 was a good idea, especially without an option. Clearly the new Android moto is break something so we can fix it in the next release.