There’s a new Android update incoming, and it’s called Android N. It’s not expected to be released until the second half of 2016, though we do have information about some of the best features you’ll find on the new release.
For now, we’ve had to make do with the developer beta release, but there’s a lot of changes already. More are expected to be added as the Android N is refined over the coming months.
Let’s kick off the list with some of the biggest changes and enhancements so far.
1. Notification Enhancements
The notification system has been completely overhauled, making them faster and easier to use.
As you can see from the image above, they look different when compared to previous versions, and they’ll act differently too. You’ll be able to directly reply to messages from within the notification interface, which is a feature many users have been waiting for.
Messaging apps continue to gain popularity, so you can see why they’re pushing for better functionality from the notification tab. It looks to be a great addition for Android.
2. Multi-Window Support
This feature has been widely reported on already, but just in case you haven’t heard, Android N can have multiple apps open onscreen at the same time. A lot of apps already work in different aspect ratios, which means they retain full-functionality during usage.
There’s also talk of an experimental freeform windows mode, which would allow for multiple apps at the same time, in the style of a classic desktop computer. It’s another interesting prospect, but the features are locked away for now.
However, it’s questionable just how useful this will be on a normal-sized smartphone, but it will be great if you’re planning on getting a new Android tab.
3. Efficiency & Productivity
What do we mean by efficiency and productivity?
It seems that the device is geared towards making it faster and easier for the user, which will increase productivity while using the device. It might sound like marketing doublespeak, but it does translate to a better user experience all round.
If you use your device regularly for work, Android for Work features will also be improved. We have more information further down the list.
4. Data-Saving Mode
As the name suggests, this is a new mode that will help to reduce your mobile data usage. Unlimited plans are starting to become cheaper and easier to get hold of, but many people still have to watch their usage each month.
(I’m lucky enough to have unlimited internet on my device, but my fiancée is always asking to use my phone to browse by the end of the month.)
It’s another feature that helps out the user, and it should stop you worrying about exceeding your monthly data cap.
5. Improved Doze
If you weren’t aware, doze mode helps to save battery life, and it was originally found on 6.0 Marshmallow. Doze works by putting your phone to sleep while it’s idle, and it’s really effective at conserving battery life.
The best thing is, it’ll work on its own with no need for input from the user.
However, if you’re out and about with your device in your pocket, it’s not exactly idle. Android N looks to solve this. If the screen is off for a period of time it’ll start working, which should translate to better battery life while the phone is moving around in your pocket.
Apps are slowly being adapted to make the most of Doze functions, so you should continue to see increased battery life in time.
6. Faster App Installs and System Updates
Again, these features are geared towards making the phone faster to use, so it’s a great perk that you might not even notice in the long run. Working for JOA, I’ve often noticed that updates and app installs are slow considering my 4G connection.
It’s nice to know they’re working on improving the infrastructure, and we won’t be waiting so long in the future.
7. Number Blocking and Call Screening
If you’re fed up with unsolicited calls and texts, (I even get spammed on WhatsApp from time to time) you’ll be interested to learn that number blocking features will be refined with Android N. They’ll be easier to find on the new software, and there are new features that make it even easier to block spam and abuse.
(At least you won’t have to use an external app as some users do at the moment.)
Here’s a couple of the main benefits of number blocking;
- Numbers blocked on calls are also blocked on texts.
- Blocked numbers stay blocked even after resets and device changes through the Backup & Restore feature.
- Multiple apps can use the same blocked numbers list.
As you can see, they’ve thought of nearly everything.
There are also call screening features, which also help with unsolicited calls.
- Reject the incoming call.
- Do not allow the call to the call log.
- Do not show a notification for the call.
The default phone call application will be able to handle all of these features.
8. Direct Boot
What this means is, device startup times will be much improved, while registered apps will have limited functionality if your phone reboots unexpectedly. (This means that alarms and notifications should work as normal, even if your device reboots unexpectedly.)
The encryption methods are still secure, so there’s no chance of any security risks via rebooting.
9. Accessibility & Languages
Android has always been reasonably easy to use for most people, but they’ve now expanded the range to allow for greater accessibility.
You’ll be able to find Vision Settings directly on the Welcome screen, and there’s an emphasis on making it easier for users that have motor impairments. Most of us won’t need to use these features, but it’s so important for those that need to.
10. Android for Work Functionality
If you’re interested in using your Android phone in a working environment, Google are strongly pushing for Android N to make the choice even easier for you. They’ve added the ability to turn off work mode, and it’s being further refined to improve the experience.
If you want to learn more about Android for Work, check our guide for info;
11. Android TV Recording
Lastly, Android N adds the ability to record and playback content from Android TV services, which is great if you want to save a video for future viewing.
It’s likely that there will be restrictions, but we’ll have to wait for more information to be sure. If you want to learn more, check our guide for more about Android TV;
Must Read: What is Android TV?
Android N has the potential to ensure that the platform has a bright future, and the features on this list make it one of the best updates in a while. We still have a while to wait, but it’s looking good so far.
For now, it’s up to Google to provide a solid release date, and May has been penciled in as a likely date for more information. Hopefully, we’ll have even more features to report on in the coming months.
If we’ve missed a great feature, or you have questions about Android N, let us know in the comments below, or you can contact us via Facebook or Twitter.