Google rolls out Android N Developer Preview

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Google has today started rolling out the Android N Developer Preview. Previously, Google wouldn’t make this available until May during Google I/O but to allow developers to familiarise themselves with the new system before the conference, Google is rolling out the Android N Developer Preview earlier.

By pushing the preview out earlier than usual, it will also give Google more time to listen to developer feedback and make changes.

This version of Android is also the first to use Oracle’s OpenJDK instead of Apache Harmony. This means Android programmers will be able to make use of Java 8 features.

Some of the changes now seen in the Developer Preview include the addition of a native split screen for phones and tablets. Picture-in-picture capabilities are also coming to Android with the new build. “Direct Reply Notifications” allows developers to build in a feature allowing users to reply to incoming notifications directly from the notifications shade. And Android N will improve on Doze by allowing the feature to save more battery power when the screen is off. Additionally, Google is working on making apps run in the background more efficiently to reduce the operating system’s consumption of memory.

One new feature, Data Saver, will allow Android users to reduce the use of data by apps running in the background, and tries to reduce data consumption when an app is running in the foreground. This is accomplished by “limiting bit rate for streaming, reducing image quality, deferring optimistic precaching,” and other methods.

Multi-window support

In Android N, Google are introducing a new and much-requested multitasking feature into the platform — multi-window support.

Users can now pop open two apps on the screen at once.

  • On phones and tablets running Android N, users can run two apps side-by-side or one-above-the-other in splitscreen mode. Users can resize the apps by dragging the divider between them.
  • On Android TV devices, apps can put themselves in picture-in-picture mode, allowing them to continue showing content while the user browses or interacts with other apps. See below for more information.

Especially on tablets and other larger-screen devices, multi-window support gives you new ways to engage users. You can even enable drag-and-drop in your app to let users conveniently drag content to or from your app — a great way to enhance your user experience.

It’s straightforward to add multi-window support to your app and configure how it handles multi-window display. For example, you can specify your activity’s minimum allowable dimensions, preventing users from resizing the activity below that size. You can also disable multi-window display for your app, which ensures that the system will only show your app in full-screen mode.

Notification enhancements

Android N Notifications

In Android N notifications have been redesigned to make them easier and faster to use. Some of the changes include:

  • Template updates: We’re updating notification templates to put a new emphasis on hero image and avatar. Developers will be able to take advantage of the new templates with minimal adjustments in their code.
  • Bundled notifications: The system can group messages together, for example by message topic, and display the group. A user can take actions, such as Dismiss or Archive, on them in place. If you’ve implemented notifications for Android Wear, you’ll already be familiar with this model. with this model.
  • Direct reply: For real-time communication apps, the Android system supports inline replies so that users can quickly respond to an SMS or text message directly within the notification interface.
  • Custom views: Two new APIs enable you to leverage system decorations, such as notification headers and actions, when using custom views in notifications.

Google did not reveal what dessert or candy the “N” represents. On Google’s announcement, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s SVP for Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast, said that he was “nut tellin” us yet what the “N” stands for. Was that the first clue?.

With five previews of Android N scheduled before the final version is released in Q3, Google is hoping to hand over Android N to device manufacturers during the summer.

If you own the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9 and Pixel C, you can sign up later today to receive the preview on your device. Note that the Nexus 5 is not included. Once the preview is installed on those devices, you will receive future updates. The page will be live later today at google.com/android/beta.

Android N Images

The following Android N images are now available to developers.

More detailed information can be found here.

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