Google’s I/O event last week told us valuable information about Android N. You probably don’t want to watch the full keynote address, so we’ve summed up the most important information for you here.
1) Google Identified Three Areas of Focus
Google has specifically narrowed down three areas of focus with Android N, including:
Now, these three improvements are found on pretty much all Android updates. But Android N will bring a special focus to all three areas.
In addition to the above three areas, Google mentioned that native VR support will come standard on Android with a new VR platform called Daydream.
2) Daydream is Android’s New Built-In Virtual Reality System
Daydream is Google’s new VR platform. It will come standard on Android N and will be built-in to the Android system natively.
Phones will have to meet a set of tech specs to be compatible with Daydream. However, those tech specs have already been met or surpassed by many manufacturers, including Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, and Huawei, all of which already make at least one Daydream-compatible device.
After the I/O address, Google also rolled out its Cardboard VR platform to more people around the world, including customers in Canada, Germany, and France. It was previously only available in the United States. It’s priced at $20, making it the cheapest way to experience VR for yourself.
3) New Settings Menu
The system settings menu now has a hamburger menu button (the icon with the three horizontal lines). That menu is embedded into system settings. When you’re in the Wi-Fi settings menu, for example, you’ll quickly be able to jump into other system options using the menu at the left-hand side of the page.
This menu can already be found in most other Google apps, so it’s a natural extension to find it in the Android settings menu. Ultimately, this will make it easier to switch between different parts of your settings menu. Instead of pressing the back button then tapping again, you’ll be able to tap directly on the settings where you want to go.
4) Reply to Messages from the Notification Bar
Google took a page from Apple’s iOS by making it possible to respond to messages from the notifications bar. You can now answer messages from the notification itself, so you don’t need to leave an app to answer a message. You can also answer messages without unlocking your phone (although this can be changed from the settings).
5) Better Multi-Window Mode Support
Google has been working to bring multi-window support to Android since Android M, but it eventually abandoned that plan. With Android N, Google will officially bring a native multitasking system to Android, letting you seamlessly use two apps from the same screen simultaneously.
We’ve had multi-window support before on Android. On Android N, however, developers will get more options on how to choose the minimize size of the app and how the app should be resized. Developers can specify this information or even choose to restart the app for multi-window mode.
6) A Sleek and Sexy Notifications Panel
Android N’s notifications panel has been redesigned and it looks sharp. As mentioned above, you can respond to messages directly from a notification.
Other changes include more prominent icons above the notification shade as well as a dropdown icon on the right-hand side to expand the panel (something we’ve already seen on the Galaxy smartphones).
You can also stack notifications to clear up space in your notifications area. Developers can tell Android whether or not they want to stack notifications from a single app in one line, which then allows users to expand notifications using the expansion button or a two-handed gesture.
7) Notifications Are Ranked on a Scale of Importance
Notifications can be manually set to multiple levels of importance, based on where you want the notifications to appear on your screen. Levels of importance include:
-Blocked: Never show notifications from that app
-Min Importance: Silently show notifications at the bottom of the notifications shade
-Low Importance: Silently show notifications in chronological order
-Normal Importance: Allow these notifications to play sounds
-High Importance: Activate the screen and play sounds
-Urgent Importance: Push to the top of the notifications list, activate the screen, and play sounds
You can adjust these notifications by long pressing on the gear icon, activating the System UI Tuner in the Settings menu. From that menu, go to other and activate Show full importance settings.
8) Better Energy Saving in Doze
Android’s Doze has been improved in Android N. Previously, Doze was only activated when the phone was undisturbed for a long period of time – like when you’re sleeping or when it’s sitting on your desk.
However, Google now claims it has optimized Doze so that it’s activated any time your screen is turned off.
9) No 3D Touch Support
There were rumors that Android N was going to include support for 3D Touch – just like the iPhone 6s. However, Google has made no mention of this feature so far, so it seems unlikely that it will make an appearance.
Force Touch or 3D Touch was rumored to be included in Android N after it was spotted in Android N Developer Preview documents, although the feature itself was never found on Android.
What’s your favorite Android N feature? Let us know in the comments section below!