This post was published 9 months ago. Due to the rapidly evolving world of technology, some material it contains may no longer be applicable.
Well everyone, it’s finally here! Nougat has been shown in all its glory and pretty soon it will be hitting our devices. While you wait for it to arrive, here are some of the best new features in Android 7.0.
5. Quick Reply
Nougat has integrated the Android Wear reply API into its notifications. That means that any app that supports Wear will work with Quick Reply with no modification needed. Quick Reply allows you to reply to incoming messages right from the notification, saving you time if you’re in a rush. This may sound like a small addition but when I go back to a device running Marshmallow it is one of the features I miss the most.
4. Quick Settings
The quick settings pulldown has had a bit of a makeover this year. Your five most used toggles are shown in the notifications area and when you pull the full shade down there are changes there too. All the icons are now the same size instead of WiFi and Bluetooth being enlarged at the top. You can have multiple 3×3 pages of settings and you can arrange their layout to your liking. Best of all, apps can now offer their own quick settings which you can add like widgets from edit section. It’s very similar to what CM have done for the last year.
One of my biggest gripes with installing system updates has been long it all takes, especially building the ART cache! If you have a lot of apps as I do, then this could take twenty minutes or so.
Thankfully Nougat features an updated ART JIT compiler which has immensely reduced the time it takes for apps to be complied from Java into native code. Consequently, this process is now completed in mere seconds making the optimisation step a thing of the past! It also means apps install much faster too.
From Google’s developer preview document Quick path to app install:
One of the most tangible benefits of ART’s JIT compiler is the speed of app installs and system updates. Even large apps that required several minutes to optimize and install in Android 6.0 can now install in just a matter of seconds. System updates are also faster, since there’s no more optimizing step.
Seamless Update Mechanism
Another exciting improvement in this department is seamless updates. This is only going to be available on new devices, but it’s exciting nonetheless. The new Nexus devices (and hopefully subsequent OEM devices) will use two system partitions and update in the background just like Chrome OS devices.
When an update comes through, it will silently install onto a second partition in the background. Once it has finished, the system will notify you that there is an update installed and prompt you to reboot. You then just reboot when it’s convenient for you and your device will switch the active partition to the one with the updated system during the next boot. It’s that easy! Given how often many devices now update with monthly security patches this will be a blessing!
Another handy bonus of this system is that the first partition will still hold an intact copy of the previous release following an update. This means that if the update you install has an issue then you can revert back to the older version easily and without any data loss.
This is pure speculation on my part but I suspect it may also be possible to also repurpose this to create a dual-boot system for testing developer previews alongside stable builds.
2. Improved Doze
Marshmallow introduced Doze, a battery saving feature that kicks in when your device is on a table or left unattended. Once your device has been immobile for some time, it would switch to a low-power “Doze” state. In Doze polling for notifications is less frequent and apps sync less often.
The main drawback with this was that it only worked when the device is completely still. That meant that when you were walking with your phone in a pocket or bag it wouldn’t engage Doze mode. With Nougat this is no longer the case. Now the device uses the ambient light and proximity sensors to detect its surroundings (e.g. a pocket) and engages a more limited doze mode when it’s not being used. This should drastically increase battery life when you aren’t using you phone.
This is the big one. Multiwindow has been around in Android since Samsung built it into TouchWiz. However the TouchWiz version is fairly limited and the list of compatible apps isn’t very long. With Nougat this functionality is now baked in natively and with APIs for it now in the Android SDK, developers can make apps for all devices which play nice with the new feature.
In Android 7.0 you can activate multiwindow easily by either by dragging an app to the top of the screen while in overview or by holding or swiping up from the overview key. It works for all apps unless they’ve been coded not to, however apps that don’t explicitly support it may show a warning.
Apps will adjust as the size of the window changes as they do between devices of different display sizes. This means that apps should pretty much always look good when being used in multiwindow.
You’re also able to drag and drop text between apps while in this mode. If you have Gmail open next to Chrome, you can drag a URL into your message. This will soon also be possible with images too, but apps need to add support and most have not just yet.
Multiwindow will still be in the early stages when it rolls out with Nougat, so expect more refinement and improvements as time progresses. However, even in its current form this can provide a decent boost to on-the-go productivity.