Google recently surprised us by releasing the Android N Developer Preview, which includes improved notifications, split-screen multitasking, an improved settings app, and more. Here's a look at some of those new features in action.
On March 9th, Google surprised us with the Android N Developer Preview. I woke up, looked at the headlines and I was actually really shocked to see the press reporting on Android N so early in the year but I will add, I was pleasantly surprised to see it because I obviously love stock Android; especially new versions of Android.
So with the Android N Developer Preview, Google launched the Android Beta Program. Basically, if you enroll one of your compatible Nexus or Pixel C devices in the program, you'll receive a free over-the-air update to download and install Android N. It's so easy, a caveman can do it if they have a Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, Player, 9, and/or Pixel C #notasponsor.
I installed the Preview on my Nexus 6P, the very first thing you will notice most likely if you look past the notifications is the new wallpaper, it's very clean and simple. And if you like pink or purple, it's a bonus; you'll just love it all the more. The home screens and the app drawer have remained unchanged for the most part. There is clearly still an app drawer and it clearly still scrolls vertically. The most visual new changes take place in the notification drawer, you'll see the notification cards are much more flat and there's no significant separation between notifications. But from here, you can expand the notifications with a two-finger swipe down. And depending on the app, you can significantly expand the notification.
We have a quick reply feature built in the Android N, which lets us reply to message from the notification panel itself without having to navigate to the entire application. You can still swipe the notifications to the side but you'll see if you swipe it to one side or the other halfway or so, it will reveal a settings icon which will allow you to block or silence the notification from that particular source.
There are also now quick settings toggles present without needing to reveal them with additional swipes. That's nice to see. A new animation display toggles when revealing them and you can have multiple pages full quick settings toggles to swipe through. I will add that there's even an edit section to rearrange them as you see fit or as you please. The one quick setting that appears to be new is Data Saver, which when activated, will disable background data from being received for apps running on the background when you are not connected to Wi-Fi. If we jump into the settings, you'll see this section has received a major redesign overhaul. Suggested settings are up top that you can remove if you like. And you'll see that in addition to the main headline or category text, there's mention of other important information like which Wi-Fi network you're connected to, whether or not you're connected to a Bluetooth device, which Bluetooth device, how much RAM you are using at a time; all these info and more is available to you without ever needing to dive deeper into the menus.
Additionally, no matter where you are in the settings, you can swipe in from the left of the screen to view a menu with all the main categories to choose from and quickly jump from one section to another quickly and efficiently. If you activate the System UI Tuner by holding down the side icon on the notification panel for five seconds or so, you can turn on a night mode which is easier on the eyes. If that mode is on, you have the option to use the dark theme for Android which turns the settings and all its contents to dark themed; that's about it. In addition, you can callibrate the display to your liking which is also pretty neat.
But perhaps the biggest new feature is the split-screen functionality. If you press on the overview icon, a list of background apps will appear in larger menus than previous versions of Android I will add. If you select a previoiusly running app from the overview tray and long press on the navigation icon, you have the option to multi-task with one app above and one app below. You can also long press an app on the overview tray and drag it to the left and it will effectively do the same thing. It's actually pretty easier if we do it that way. I will say this is the most buggy feature so far in Android N but it's my favorite feature hands down.
One super cool new feature that I found is the ability to rapidly switch between the previously used app by double tapping the overview navigation command. It's an amazing little feature that saves a lot of time.
But with that last one, those are some of the biggest new additions coming to Android. If you want to install Android N, the beta of Android N on your device, I'll leave a link for you to do that. But keep in mind that this is a beta, this is a developer preview and it's very buggy. So if you want to install it at your own risk, be my guest. But let me know your thoughts in a comment down below.