It seems the Android’s annual cycle of upgrades has began early this year. Google surprised us all with their spontaneous unveiling of the Android N Developer Preview a whole month and a half before its yearly Google I/O developer conference. This early release of the next major version of Android software update is a good indicator of the direction Android is taking and what to expect from the full release.

What is Android N Developer Preview?

Android N Developer Preview is a developer test version of the latest Android software and is currently available on a few Nexus devices such as Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus Player, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P and Nexus 9. Akin to former Developer Preview versions, like Android Marshmallow, this initial version of the software only includes a few parts of the soon to be released version of Android.

Google confirmed that manufacturers can expect to receive the final version of Android N later this year.

What’s New in Android N Developer Preview

Menu embedded into the system settings

The hamburger menu icon has now been placed within the system settings. For instance, if you are on the Wi-Fi settings you can use this left side menu to quickly switch to the system’s other options. However, this is not something new as it is already a standard feature in most Google apps.

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Direct reply notifications

We’ve had notification interactions for a while now. Though not every app supports this, email notifications from Gmail can pulled down allowing you to archive them without having to launch the app. In addition, Google Hangouts allow users to reply messages directly from the notification tray, without opening either the app or the message.

One of the latest additions to the Android N is the capability to answer to messages right from the notification itself. This nifty feature will mean that users won’t have to leave an app or even unlock their Android device to reply to a message.

Multi-window mode

Google has been making efforts to introduce a native function that will add a more efficiency for multitasking features of Android. This was evident in the Android M developer preview though it was omitted from the final Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Nevertheless, it appears that Google is finally to ready to make the leap with Android N.

You can expect a similar multi-window system as the one found on some LG and Samsung devices, which will work on both tablets and smartphones.

Developers will have to apply the split screen mode in order to allow smooth running of their apps. For this purpose, they will need to add a new attribute reffered to as resizableActivity. The attribute lets uses choose the minimum size that their apps can be resized to and whether the resizing effect will happen instantly or users will need to restart the app with the specified dimensions.

Redesigned notifications panel

As seen in earlier leaks the notification panel appears to have been revamped. Icons right above the notifications tray are now more salient with a dropdown toggle also being added at the far to right for the panel expansion.

Messages can now be replied to right within a notification, a functions which embraces the RemoteInput API similar to the one used in Android Wear.

Notifications from the same app can now bundled in a single position, to optimize the space within the notification tray. However, you can easily expand the notifications using the expansion icon.

Projects Doze and Svelte

The Doze mode, a feature which shuts down communications on your phone after a long time of remaining undisturbed, has now been enhanced in Android N. Google has revealed that Doze will now work to maximize battery life once your device’s screen is switched off.

Also notable, is Google’s Project Svelte which will improve memory management along with the consumption of power. This works by ensuring that apps remain dormant even when the network connectivity changes.

New accessibility features

Android N has introduced a new screen zoom function to its accessibility panel. Its use is pretty straightforward, allowing the screen to be enlarged for better viewing.

Android Beta Program

Google has alsointroduced yet another addition, which is basically a new way to push out over-the-air update along with preview builds, that will avoid flashing of factory images. If your device is compatible then you can register for the Android Beta Program to automatically get these preview builds.

For developers or those who want to test out this new Android N preview version, feel free to download the OS update images via this link. Note that this preview version is still unstable and may contain a couple of bugs.

Remember that only Nexus series of devices support the preview build of Android N. These includes the Nexus Player (fugu), Nexus 5X (bullhead), Nexus 6P (angler), Nexus 9 4G (volantisg), Pixel C (ryu), Nexus 9 (Volantis) and Nexus 6 (Shamu).

What are your thoughts on the Android N Preview Build? What do you expect from the final Android N OS? Let us know in the comments.

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