Android Nougat is officially coming this soon, possibly as early as mid-August, and it will bring with it a slew of improvements. After rolling out preview versions to developers earlier this year, Google announced the name in June on its Snapchat account. (Apparently, even Google figures that an announcement on Google+ wouldn't draw much of an audience.)
The impending Android upgrade already has a solid set of improvements ready. From security and performance enhancements to better multitasking tools, here are the top new features that Android Nougat will bring. If you're too impatient to wait for the official release, you can already download the beta preview of Android Nougat on your Nexus 6, 6P, 5X, 9, Player or Google Pixel C.
Android Nougat finally brings a split-screen mode, which had been sorely missing on tablets and large-screen phones. This catches Google up with Samsung, which already had this capability on many of its Galaxy devices, and Apple, which added multitasking features to its iPad lineup with last year's iOS 9.
On phones and tablets, multi-window can be activated by long-pressing the recent apps button, then selecting the program you wish to split the screen with. TVs also get a Picture-in-Picture mode that lets you continue playing your video content in a corner of the screen while navigating elsewhere to, for example, download an app that you just saw.
Like the Alt-Tab shortcut on desktops, the Quick Switch tool lets you go back and forth between your current app and your last-used one by just double tapping the recent apps button. That's a handy shortcut that will save time from having to pull up all your open apps and tapping the app you want.
Along with a number of new features and enhancements, Android 7.0 will also introduce Google Daydream. Daydream is a new VR platform built into Android that should deliver more VR-friendly versions of apps to use with headsets such as Google Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR, in addition to tools for VR developers to work. The one downside to Daydream is that unlike Cardboard, which worked on almost any phone, Daydream will only be available for new Android N devices that meet Google's list of internal requirements. Phone makers that have already pleadge to making Daydream-ready phones include Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei, Alcatel and more.
Decluttering Recent Apps
If you constantly have dozens of apps open on your phone, the new Android will look at which of your open apps you use the least and close them after a period of inactivity. Google also added a Clear All button at the top of the recent apps screen to let you quickly shut down all open programs.
Notifications: Direct Reply to Messages, and Better Control
According to vice president of engineering David Burke, more than half of Android's notifications today originate from messaging apps. To make it easier to respond to these alerts, Android Nougat will let you reply to your messages directly from your notifications. iOS has had this feature for awhile now, so it's nice to see Google catch up.
You will also get better control over which notifications show up and bother you. When an alert appears, you can long press on it to block that app or show its notifications silently.
New, More Diverse and Representative Emoji
Your emoji game is about to get on fire with the Android Nougat update. Adding 72 new emoji, Google will support more human-looking glyphs with options for skin tone variations. Among the new additions are crossed fingers, left shark, selfies and facepalms. But my favorite addition has to be new female professions, including doctor, chef, scientist, rock star, welder and farmer. Now I can talk about my hopes and dreams with emojis.
Performance and Security Enhancements
Android Nougat will bring about support for Vulkan API, which lets games developers add more graphics effects while maintaining a high frame rate. In a demo of Need For Speed, Burke showed off details such as motion blurs for objects on the sidelines, reflections on the car and the watery effect in the scene while the car sped through streets without lag.
The new OS will also bring a faster compiler that means 75 percent faster app installs for users, as well as improved media framework security that gives developers greater control over what parts of the app to protect.