Google’s decision to provide pre-release versions of Android N to the public earlier than with previous versions has provided a bonanza of information about where this platform is headed. And with a second new preview of Android N available, even more features have been revealed.
Indeed, Google’s announcement about Android N Developer Preview 2 was light on features. But there’s a lot more going on here than just new emojis. Here’s what I’ve seen in just a few days of usage.
New folder design. In previous Android versions, folders visually displayed their contents as stacked apps icons, making it hard to see which apps they contained. In Android N Preview, Google miniaturizes each contained app icon in a folder and displays them in a grid. So now you can easily see up to four of the contained apps without opening the folder. I like it, and looking at Android 6.0 and N side-by-side, I prefer the new design.
Lock screen wallpaper. It’s amazing to me that Android didn’t already do this, but you can now set different wallpapers for the lock screen and Home screens. (Previously, the wallpaper you chose would be applied to both.)
Home screen pinch. In previous Android versions, you had to press and hold on an empty area of the Home screen to display the Overview screen, which lets you change the Home screen wallpaper, widgets and settings. (I wrote about this recently in Android for the Windows Guy: Customize Your Home Screen with Widgets.) Now, you can simply pinch-to-zoom right on any Home screen (even one filled completely with icons) and access the Overview screen more easily.
Calculator in Quick Settings. Not a major feature by any stretch, but there’s now a Calculator item available in Quick Settings, so you can quickly calculate a tip in a restaurant. Which, come to think about it, is actually a feature I could use, given my math feebleness.
And while I can’t figure this one out yet, I’m told that you can now perform Quick Replies to email and text messages from the lock screen, a nice increase in functionality you can access without signing in to your phone.
I’m sure there’s more, but Android N is already shaping up nicely.