Android N is in full development at the moment, and those with Nexus 6 (and newer) or Pixel tablets can enroll in the beta program. With Google’s annual I/O coming to an end, and the Android N developer preview open to the public, it’s safe to say we know most of the new Android N features.
Like for any other beta program, a few new capabilities and improvements may still be implemented until the final release and we know a few of those as well.
10 best Android N features
With that said, here are the best Android N features we know so far, so you will know what to expect from the next update, which is scheduled to be released in Q3 2016.
Split-screen multitasking is a much-needed feature, especially on tablets and finally, Android N will provide it to the public. However, it also works on phones and you can just press and hold the task-switching button to access it. Simple, yet very efficient.
There’s more to the task-switching button – with a double-tap it will instantly switch to the most recently used app. This feature is called Quick Switch, and there’s also a Clear All button so you can close all open apps with one tap.
The notification drawer went through a pretty significant redesign in Android N, making more use of space. For instance, the icons are smaller, and the notifications are now displayed in full width. Some functional improvements have been added as well. Instead of one tap to expand a notification, there are now two levels of expansion, as well as small buttons for this purpose.
Another interesting addition is the new menu accessible by long-pressing a notification, which lets you set up how alerts should be received from that specific app, or just block them completely. A few of the most important toggles show up above your notifications in a customizable row, so you only need to swipe again if you want to access the rest.
Improved Doze Mode
When it comes to saving battery, we can never get enough help. Android Marshmallow’s Doze Mode was very welcomed and Android N improves it. Originally, Doze Mode was supposed to kick in, while your phone was not in use and resting flat. The new Doze Mode also works while your phone is idle but moving (like in a bag, or in a pocket).
However, your phone will enter a deeper hibernation mode while lying still, although you can still enjoy some of Doze’s battery saving benefits on the go, which is definitely an improvement.
Truth be told, the Settings menu really needed an overhaul. At the top, you can view suggestions for various options you may not have used yet, which can be very useful to anyone, but especially for those who lack the time and patience to explore the Settings app by themselves. Each of those options also provides a short piece of information that summarizes the current status of that particular setting.
What’s more, persistent settings are added to the list after they’re enabled, and you can swipe to remove any of these entries.
Android N’s new Data Saver will not only prevent you reaching your monthly data cap too soon but also provides better control over data usage.
With Data Saver on, background syncing is stopped, unless you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Also, it tries to limit foreground app data usage and lets you add certain apps on a whitelist so their online activity will be able to continue as usual.
With every new Android update, performance optimization is a default addition. It’s not just a marketing statement as Android N relies on Vulkan, a new graphics API designed to increase visual performance on mobile devices, but is also gaining traction on PCs, specifically for gaming.
There’s also a new JIT compiler meant to make apps up to 50% smaller and install 75% faster, as well as improve battery life, according to Google’s statements.
Android N doesn’t have anything to show off in this department yet, but Google is already working on Daydream, a separate Android-based platform that will become Cardboard’s successor and is scheduled for launch sometime this fall.
Daydream will work only on certified photos with the proper hardware and while Google has only provided a reference design for the required headsets, manufacturers will soon be able to produce this Daydream-compliant piece of equipment, as well as smartphones.
And worry not, there will be plenty of VR-ready content too, starting with the one offered by Google apps like Photos, YouTube, and Street View, but other popular service providers like Ubisoft, EA and Netflix are on board as well.
A system-wide dark theme has been one of the most wanted Android features for a long time. Android Marshmallow’s preview builds included Dark Mode, but it was removed. The good news is, it returns as one of the best Android N features, since it’s not just a dark theme.
There are also some interesting options like tint control which can be used to limit the blue light emitted by your screen and Dark Mode can kick in automatically between certain time intervals.
Functionality-wise, keyboard themes are completely useless, but don’t we all love some new customization options, especially when they come built-into the OS? The stock Google keyboard has a rich collection of themes you can choose from, but also other customizable options like colors, borders and background. Awesome, right?
Optimized number blocking and call screening
Android N attempts to unify call blocking by making this a built-in system feature. This means, the procedure will be the same across devices and your list of blocked numbers will even persist after a factory reset.
Google is also offering an API to service providers so they can access the list of blocked numbers as well. And once your carrier blocks those callers, there is no way any of them will be able to reach you again.
Call screening is the less extreme option, as it lets you set up various actions for incoming calls from certain numbers like rejecting them.
Of course, there are many new interesting capabilities packed in Android’s upcoming update, such as new emojis, home screen launcher shortcuts, lock screen quick reply, new folder icons, and the list goes on. We’ll be covering more of them in detail, so keep an eye out for updates.
Which do you think are the best Android N features, and what’s your favorite one? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!