During Google’s annual IO Conference, Dave Burke (Vice President of Engineering at Android) announced some new interesting features of Google’s latest Android version which is known for now as Android N. Some of these new features are already present in other forks of Android used by OEMs in their products over the years. Google finally decided to support these features natively.
Here is a review of these new features
- Redesigned Notifications Panel: For starters, the notification panel now has a new design, with notifications now displayed in a white page separated by small grey lines which makes it looks cleaner and less cluttered and there is also the new RemoteInput API – which will give third party apps the functionality of replying from the notification panel. When a new message pops up in the notifications shade, Android users can now reply directly from the notifications menu without having to open the texting app. Apple introduced this interactive notifications feature two years ago with iOS 8 and its one of the new features in Windows 10 Mobile. Notifications from the same apps can now be grouped together, making it easier to read through and address (or dismiss) alerts from the same app. Notifications from similar apps are now grouped into the same card thus reducing clutter in the notification panel You can already do this on iOS when you toggle on the option in the Settings menu.
- Night Mode: To reduce eye strain from viewing a bright display at night, Android N has a Night Mode setting that tints the screen yellow, which keeps you less revved up in later hours than the usual blue tint. This isnt a just a black or dark theme, you can choose to keep the with background with a red tint also adjust the brightness and tint of the sepia hue, too.
- Google Assistant: The new Google Assistant is the same one used in the Google Home device, and is an improvement on what Google Now can offer. Instead of functioning as a search box that can recognize voice commands, the artificial intelligence-powered software will simulate actual conversations and can infer commands based on context, similar to Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa. The new Assistant software will let you engage in more natural back-and-forth dialogue with the Android device than you can with Apple’s Siri, in order to get things done, like research a restaurant and make a reservation through OpenTable.
- Split-screen mode: Split-screen has already been adopted in Samsung’s Note and S series and LG handsets over the past few years, Android N just started to natively support split-screen viewing for both phones and tablets. You can already use split-screen in iOS 9, but it’s only available on the iPad and not the iPhone (yet).
- Instant Apps: Timed with the release of N but also available on phones running OS versions as old as Android Jelly Bean, Instant Apps will let you access or use certain apps without having to download and install said apps. This is especially useful for digital payment transactions, where you can pay with Android Pay instead of whatever system the app would have made you use. Opening the app will be as fast as loading a web page according to Google.
- Doze on the Go: Google introduced its battery-saving feature, Doze, on Android Marshmallow which works by pausing background processes when your phone is not in use and stays totally still. But with Android N there’s Doze on the Go, which does the same thing except it also works when your phone is in motion, like when it’s inside your pocket sitting idle.
- VR Mode: Android N will also feature a VR mode as part of Google’s wider VR initiative named Daydream. Android smartphone manufacturers will be launching Daydream Ready devices in the fall, which will give access to content from partner media companies such as HBO, CNN, Netflix, the NBA, Hulu, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and IMAX.
Android N has a lot more new features and enhancements, and these are just a few of what the upcoming operating system has to offer. Google has released a public beta version of Android N for Nexus devices and Pixel C, so users of these devices looking to try out the operating system can download it now.