Android’s latest and greatest mobile operating system is finally here and it is just as great as Google promised it would be. Google enjoy naming their newest Android updates after tasty treats. So far we’ve had Marshmallow, Lollipop, Froyo, Ice Cream Sandwich and others. Now that they’ve reached the letter N with their 7th major update, they decided to name it after France’s favorite candy; Nougat.
You probably know it better as Android 7.0 after the numerous previews at tech development conferences. It went through a lengthy beta process but it is now ready for a full release and it has a wealth of new features that make it the best mobile operating system available. The only catch is that you have to own a device that supports it. The list of phones the currently support it are the Nexus 5X, 6P and Nexus Player among others. The first phone that will ship with Android Nougat pre-installed is the LG V20.
Google were very tight-lipped about when Android Nougat would come out but they eventually gave it a release date of August 22nd. Here’s a list of some of the stellar new features that you can expect on Android Nougat.
1. Multi-Window Quick Switch
Multitasking has always been a problem on mobile devices although Android was always the best at doing it and Google have built on their already strong foundation. With the new Quick Switch function on Android 7.0, you can flip between your current and previous apps simply by double-tapping the Recent button.
The Recent button also gives you access to the Recent menu which allows you to keep two apps open besides each other on the same screen.
2. Daydream Virtual Reality
Daydream is Google’s answer to virtual reality. They’ve been working on it for a long time and first made it available on a minimalist platform called Cardboard which was a nice way to introduce Daydream to consumers but now that Android 7.0 is here, they finally have the right device to make full use of its awesome features.
Daydream is run on a VR headset that comes with controller hardware linked to Android 7.0 which optimizes how the content streams. Daydream on Android Nougat boasts a 20ms latency to make it the best VR experience available to date. The only drawback is that only new handsets such as the 2016 Nexus will be capable of running Daydream.
StreetView, YouTube and the Play Store will support virtual reality so you can play your games and watch videos as if you are there in person.
3. Seamless Updates
Android apps love to install updates. They are always doing it in the background, sometimes without so much as a notice which tends to be annoying if they interrupt what you were doing in that app. Google’s solution to this is seamless updates which run in the background. They work by allowing two different system images to run at the same time which means that you can use an app while it updates in the background.
4. Enhanced User Interface
The work that Google put into improving on their UI is easy to see and it is most noticeable in how the new notification menu works.
Notifications fit better in the new drop down menu in smaller fonts that cover the screen’s width. You also won’t have to worry about notifications from one app dominating the entirety of the screen because they are stacked according the relevant application. They can also be dealt with in a more convenient menu directly from the notification menu with quick replies even on apps from third party developers.
The new notification menu also drops down with toggles for Bluetooth and GPS.
Picture in picture is a function that was popular in televisions developed in the early 2000s but quickly faded out when people realized that they’d much rather watch one channel at a time but it is making a comeback for Android TV users who are running on Android Nougat.
It runs in a similar fashion to how YouTube allows you to pull the video that’s playing into the corner while you browse for something else to do. Even third party applications will be able to have this function run on their apps.
6. Vulkan API and Improved Performance
Vulkan API is designed to streamline video graphic processing to make gaming as seamless as possible. It works great for a number of applications with high graphics processor demands such as virtual reality.
The runtime improvement on Google’s new OS make it the fastest operating system that they have ever released, up to 600% faster than previous versions.
7. Doze Mode 2.0
One of the less recognized but brilliant additions to Android Marshmallow was Doze Mode which is almost like when you put your computer to sleep but not quite. When your Android device goes into Doze mode, it saves the battery life that your phone consumes while it’s not being tapped on.
While your Android 7.0 phone is on standby Doze Mode 2.0 severely limits background operations to maximize on energy savings. This means that you can put your phone aside for a few hours and not want to hurl it across the room when you find the battery died already.
8. Duo and Allo
Two new standalone apps are included in the Android Nougat, namely Allo and Duo.
Duo is Google’s response to Apples’ FaceTime. With it you can make video calls with ease, see previews of who is calling so that you can decide on whether to pick up or not and the definition of the calls is set automatically depending on your bandwidth capabilities.
Allo is a messaging app that uses machine-learning to make your messaging experience tailored to how you prefer to use it. The machine-learning function lets the app give you suggestions for your replies based on how you replied to previous messages and what it sees in the pictures that were sent to you. It also has an integrated search function that you can use while in the Allo app.
Not everybody is happy with how these new apps collect so much information on your activity so Google included an Incognito Mode which uses end-to-end encryption so you know that your messages are private. You can also have your messages expire after a certain amount of time to leave no evidence that they were ever sent.