Though the latest Android version, Marshmallow, is still installed on only a tiny percentage of devices, Google is already showing off the first features for the next version, codenamed N. And to get developers started on these new features, Google has also released the N Developer Preview with an updated SDK.
“We’re doing something a little different this year by releasing the preview early… really early,” Google VP of Engineering writes in a new post to the Android Developers Blog. “By releasing a ‘work in progress’ build earlier in development, we have more time to incorporate developer feedback. Also, the earlier preview allows us to hand off the final N release to device makers this summer, so they can get their hands on the latest version of Android earlier than ever.”
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Google normally starts talking about the next Android release at its Google IO developer show; this year’s rendition happens in late May.
Here’s the list of Android N features Google has revealed:
Multi-window support. This long-awaited (and long-expected) new feature lets you run multiple apps on-screen at the same time or, more intriguingly, two different parts of the same app. It also support a picture-in-picture mode for devices like TVs, something that is particularly good for video playback.
Direct reply notifications. As with Android Wear today, Android users will be able to reply to incoming message notifications quickly and conveniently, without leaving the notification shade. Learn more here.
Bundled notifications. – Now, notifications from a single app can be bundled together and then expanded into individual notifications with a two-finger gesture, or by tapping a new expansion button. Learn more here.
Doze improvements. Google launched the Doze feature in Android Marshmallow, dramatically improving device battery life. In N, Doze saves even more battery when the screen is off.
Project Svelte improvements. Google says it is continuing to invest in Project Svelte, an effort to reduce Android’s memory usage, helping it to run on a broader range of device types. Android N includes even more Svelte-based memory usage improvements.
For developers, Android N also provides improved Java 8 language support, and Google is releasing its N Developer Preview, which includes an updated SDK with system images for testing N on the emulator and on the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Pixel C.
“This initial preview release is for developers only and not intended for daily use or consumer use,” Google cautions. “We plan to update the N Developer Preview system images often during the Developer Preview program. As we get closer to a final product, we’ll be inviting consumers to try it out as well.”