Android N is almost here and with the Google Developers conference taking place last week and the release of Android N Developer Preview 3, we can reveal most of what the new Android OS will bring.
Android N is scheduled for a late summer release and we here take a look at the new features.
Multi-Window will display more than one app at a time on the screen of smartphones and apps can be run side-by-side in split screen mode, with the option to drag the dividing line to re-size the two apps.
To use Multi-Window, the user makes a long press on the overview button to put the current app into half of the screen, while the overview screen pops up so that the user can select the second app. Alternatively, while in the overview screen, a long press on an app will allow the user to drag it into half of the screen.
Multi-Window will enable two of the same apps to run side-by-side, such as two Chrome web browsers, with drag and drop data activated between the split screen apps.
Notifications will become interactive in Android N and will enable the creation of replies, in the shaded grey area without launching an app, like the messaging or email app. Similar notifications will appear bundled together and these can be expanded to see more of the notification and to reply or dismiss each notification individually.
A long press on a notification will also allow the user to choose how that notification will be handled in the future, with options to make them silent or block them altogether.
|Android Pay Launches|
In addition to this, Android N will show quick action icons on the first drag down from the top of the screen. The choice of quick action settings shown here will be completely customisable.
Conversations will usher in a small revolution in Android N. The Google assistant will be integrated with conversations to give proactive suggestions in the conversation screen.
An example of this would be; if going out for an Italian meal is mentioned in the conversation, then a prompt appears in the conversation to show local Italian restaurants. If pressed, by either party in the conversation, then a banner shows nearby restaurants. Tap on a restaurant and options appear for making reservations or for seeing further info, such as opening times.
In general, the Google assistant in conversations will remove the need to switch to the Chrome browser to make a search for information, before returning to the conversation screen. Conversations will also integrate the Unicode 9 emoji standard, with 72 new emoji, support for skin tones and the ability to re-size emoji and text during conversations.
The settings menu in Android N will show suggestions of things the user hasn’t done at the top, like adding an email account. Menu items come with a snippet of info, which may save the user going into the menu item. These includes indications of the battery, memory and sound levels as well as which Wi-Fi network the phone is connected to.
Separate to the Android N update, Android users will be able to download the Google made Duo video calling app. Its coolest feature is called Knock-Knock and here when an incoming video call rings it shows a live video feed of the person calling, before the call is answered.
Again, separate to the Android N update, the Google Developers conference revealed Android Instant Apps, which will be available to any phone using Android 4.2 (KitKat) or later. The feature allows apps to be used instantly without fully installing them.
This works by Google Play only downloading the elements of the app needed to perform the needed operation. An example of this would be; clicking on an Instagram video link, with Google Play only downloading the code required to show that video.
Another example of Android Instant Apps would be; clicking on a shopping item’s link in a search engine. Here again, Google Play only downloads the code needed to run that page, while displaying a button at the top of the screen to download the whole shopping app, if desired.
In short, Android Instant Apps will fill the void between full web pages and apps.
Written by: Michael Brown