A sneak peak into the confirmed, rumoured and expected features of Google’s Android N ahead of Google I/O 2016
With Google I/O 2016 just a few months away, the excitement surrounding the new New Android N release from Google is gathering pace. Following the path established with Lollipop, Google will now release major new Android updates every year, as confirmed at last year’s I/O.
Several features have been confirmed by Google that the Android 7.0 OS is expected to bring in October. Let’s have a look at all the confirmed, rumored and expected Android N features.
Confirmed Android N features
Android N release date
Android N developer preview is expected to be released on May 18 during Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O 2016. The final Android 7.0 release is expected to be launched alongside the next-gen Nexus releases at the end of October or early November. This Android 7 release will be limited to Nexus devices at first and make its way to all other manufacturer devices and carriers networks over the next six months or so.
Google’s Product Director Andrew Bowers during a Reddit AMA with the Pixel C team had said that Android N would have multi-window mode.
“We’re working on lots of things right now for N that, of course, we wish we had, you know, yesterday. But we’d spoil the surprise of N if we shared all of them. Split screen is in the works!” disclosed Bowers at the time.
Of course, you can already get a version of stock multi-window mode in Android Marshmallow, but it is anything but polished.
Enhanced tablet support
During the same Reddit AMA, Pixel C team member Murphy, a member of the Pixel C team, acknowledged that: “We’re working hard on a range of enhancements for this form factor,” referring to split-screen multitasking support. While no further details were disclosed, these Android N feature could bring better support for tablets such as, more functional multi-tasking, tablet optimized apps, custom navigation buttons, DPI switcher, tablet-specific System UI Tuner features, and stock floating mini-apps.
Move to OpenJDK from Java APIs
Google will be officially switching to OpenJDK for Android N, due to the issues with Oracle pertaining to “rewritten” Java APIs. OpenJDK is basically part of the Java Development Kit, which is open source.
Google confirmed the news, its spokesperson said, “We plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services.”
The change should make the growth for Android N that much easier and external changes will be insignificant.
Rumored Android N features
Android N name
There is a big guessing game going around the Android N name with fans being asked to pick their favorite dessert that starts with an “n” and place their bets. Currently, the firm’s favorite is Android 7.0 Nutella, with Nougat coming a close second and a variety of Indian desserts have also been discussed. Sundar Pichai even said he would ask his mother or let fans vote for the official Android N name.
Stock stylus support
It is expected that Google will bring stock support for styluses in Android N with Samsung hinting at this possibility by planning to retire some of the main S Pen features from its Look API. On its developer page for Look API, Samsung says that several Look API S-Pen features will be “deprecated in N” – a term used to describe a soon-to-be-obsolete feature.
Chrome OS integration
This seems to be a strange one. On one hand, where initial reports had claimed that Chrome OS would be discontinued, Google responded to it by saying that it was fully committed to Chrome OS and the platform was “here to stay”. However, it was looking at ways to bring Chrome OS and Android together. There are high chances that we might be able to see at least some application of Chrome OS and Android compatibility in Android N.
New messaging app
According to the rumors doing the rounds, Google will be introducing an all-new messaging app with Android N likely to replace the largely unpopular Hangouts SMS/MMs integration. Based on the Rich Communications Services (RCS) platform, the new app will allow text to be shuttled around and have much more than just talk, including file sharing, instant messaging and video chat. While Google has publicly acknowledged its commitment to the RSC standard, there is no confirmation if it would be included in Android N.
Expected Android N features
Return of the Dark Theme
The Dark Theme, which had appeared provisionally in the Android M preview builds disappeared again to everyone’s dismay. It still hasn’t made a comeback into an official Android Marshmallow update. Since, it’s such a popular feature request and with AMOLED displays all set to take over the display market, we can only assume it will make its way back in as an Android N feature much like stock multi-window mode.
Improved Smart Lock for Passwords
Android Marshmallow introduced Smart Lock for Passwords, a basic Google password manager that can store your app passwords so that any time you re-install an app you will be automatically logged in. The idea is that the entire process of setting up a new device in combination with Android’s restored app backup, is continuous. The only problem is that its value is still largely underutilized, as not that many apps support Smart Lock for passwords yet.
MOAR battery optimization
One of the most important aspects of any Android release will and always be battery optimization. Marshmallow introduced Doze Mode and App Standby and Lollipop introduced a stock Battery Saver Mode. Android N will likely improve these features – and hopefully allow Doze to work even when it’s in your pocket.
Improved security and app stability
Google took a major step in the right direction with the arrival of granular app permissions in Marshmallow. It allows users to select the app permissions they were comfortable with on an app-by-app basis and discard those they felt were not reasonable. It is expected that Google should have committed devs to updating their apps by the time Android N rolls out in order to offer the same level of stability with or without certain non-critical permissions allowed.