Android N is the latest version of Android that is currently in beta with a Developer Preview released in March 2015, where a beta is normally released in May each year during Google I/O conference.
Before I go further, I would like to make a disclaimer that I do not own an Android device, but have had many experience with using it on my family’s Samsung Galaxy devices (S3 & S4).
I am always one of those people that thinks Android and iOS have their advantages and disadvantages and in a few years time, it’s going to get to the point where both mobile OS’s, are going to be virtually identical in terms of what they can do, but here is my Top 10 Reasons that I am looking forward to Android N.
From this point on I’m going to refer to Android N as Nutella because that is what I personally believe the next version of Android should be called and all updates are related to stock Android, as that is what the smartphones manufactures (e.g. Samsung, HTC and Motorola) get from Google and put their own software on it (e.g. TouchWiz and Sense).
10. Improved Tablet Support:
This is becoming apparent on products like the Google Pixel C which has changes like the soft-keys being the triangle, circle and square are now spread out better for easier navigation with the multitasking button in the bottom right and other 2 in the bottom left of the screen instead of awkwardly being all bunched in the bottom middle.
Google has also said that they are making more tablet friendly versions of stock Android applications to work on tablets, which will make it a better competitor to iPads.
9. Quick Reply to Notifications/Messages:
On iOS since iOS 8, you have been able to swipe down on a notification to type a quick message and hit send to respond, all without having to leave the current app you are in.
I have found this useful quite a few times and this will be a small but compelling feature for Android users.
This is especially useful if you are responding to for example, an SMS, a Facebook Direct Message etc.
8. Quick Jump to Previous App:
Android is improving the multitasking with Android N and one way they are doing this is with the multitasking button.
If you double tap quickly on the multitasking button (square button in stock Android) it will automatically switch to the last opened app you had on your phone or tablet.
This is very much like the 3D Touch swipe to go back to the previous app, but is a double tap on a button without any pressure and will be incredibly handy for people who heavily multitask on their smartphones.
7. Enhanced Doze Mode:
Doze mode was perhaps one of the best if not the best features to come to Android Marshmallow in 2015 as it effectively shuts down almost all system resources when in standby mode.
This means over long standby mode periods for when you are in bed, or in an important meeting, your phone will not drop in battery percentage or hardly any at all.
Google is taking this a step further in Nutella, with a second Doze mode that puts your phone effectively in hibernation which defers network activity and other system resources.
6. Support for Force Touch apps:
One of the more recent developer previews of Nutella had some code in it relating to a pressure-sensitive display.
As it currently stands, no device out there supports pressure-sensitivity except the iPhone 6s/Plus via 3D Touch.
The guys over at Phandroid have founded the code in a recent developer preview and have partnered up with Nova Launcher (popular 3rd party Android home screen launcher) to create a tweak to show what the feature would look like.
Since they do not own a pressure-sensitive display, they tweaked it so when the user swipes down on an app icon, it will show a list of options very similar to 3D Touch, so when a compatible device is released, it would work almost exactly like 3D Touch on the latest iPhones.
This feature whilst barely helping Apple with sales of the iPhone 6s/Plus, could help spark an increase in people upgrading for this feature alone.
5. Dark Mode:
One thing that I am getting in some ways a bit bored of, is looking at black text on a white background (like me writing this blog post).
Nutella is going to re-introduce Dark Mode (originally intended for Marshmallow) which changes certain features to have a black background with white text.
This could potentially be extremely beneficial for users that have an Android smartphone with an OLED or AMOLED display as the black pixels are effectively turned off on the display, saving a tone of battery as displays are one of the biggest battery suckers on any device.
4. Updated Notification Panel:
Nutella will have an updated notification panel which will now have quick toggles like on Samsung’s TouchWiz, visible after just one single swipe down.
In Lollipop and Marshmallow, you had to swipe down on Notification Centre twice in order to get these controls (which is still available in Nutella), but now it will also be available with one less swipe which is incredibly beneficial for people who use it all the time.
I’m still one of those users that thinks Control Centre on iOS is a better implementation especially for larger screened devices, but this is a welcome step in the right direction, as a swipe up from the bottom of the screen could be hard with soft-keys and software features like Google Now potentially being accidentally activated.
3. Multi-Window Support:
One of the reasons I’ve looked at Samsung phones a lot (especially since the S6) and not compelled to get a phone by HTC is for the flack of multi-window support.
The fact that Google is now baking this into Nutella, will mean that any smartphone that runs Nutella will have support for this Multi-Window support (unless it is disabled by manufacturers for lower-end budget phones).
2. Freeform Window Mode:
Samsung phones also have a freeform window mode (can’t quite recall the name of it if it has one) that lets you put apps into tiles by dragging from the top right corner of the screen (on recent flagship smartphones from Samsung) to have multiple apps at the same time and quickly jump between them with single taps etc.
Nutella is now going to have this feature baked in.
At the time of writing, it is at the very early stages of development (more like Alpha stage which is pre-beta) when it comes to system resources to run these app windows. For example, they do not have it at a stage (believe on the Pixel C) to have one window playing a YouTube video while another is used to browse through social media, without pausing the other app window from what it is doing.
If they fix this minor issue and have proper full support for 2-3 apps at the same time in window mode, this will be one hell of a feature!
1. Fixing Android’s OS Fragmentation:
Jase from Android Authority has best explained this benefit to Nutella, in the video above.
One of the main reasons that I have preferred iOS and always want to hold off on Android smartphones is due to its fragmentation, and Google knows that.
Google is effectively looking into separating Nutella into a back-end and a front end.
From my understanding, the back-end is the core frameworks etc. that Google can only operate and update as they choose for security patches etc. (like iOS) but the front-end is where all the magic happens.
With the front end, Google can create the stock Android version and then Samsung, HTC and other Android manufacturers can add their own software features on top of this
This is incredibly crucial for the Android ecosystem as it will significantly speed up the release times for software updates. One of the main reasons people aren’t thrilled with new Android OS updates, is because they know they will have to wait about a year to get updates for it. My sister had this on her Galaxy S4 running Kitkat to wait a year for the option to update to Lollipop.
And making it easier to update, should also hopefully mean that it will be quicker to get to each phone carrier and they will have less to check before pushing out the updates, before everyone gets them easily.
This should hopefully mean that instead of waiting a year for a software update, you would only need to wait 2-3 months, AT ABSOLUTE MOST! I honestly hope updates are more along the lines of instant like iOS, but I don’t see that quite happening, but a very quick turn-around is what is needed for the Android ecosystem if it is to help maintain and grow its user base and stop losing people switching to iPhones and iPads for this reason alone.
And this leaves me to the question for the post:
“Are you looking forward to Android N? And if so, why?”
In my case, I like everything that I have seen with Android N, more so than I have with any other previous version of Android (except the Material Design change of Lollipop) and I will almost definitely want to wait and see how well these software updates go, before I consider getting an Android smartphone and it also depends on what iOS 10 delivers etc.
Please leave a comment in the comments section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Android N from the Developer Previews released so far.
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