Android Nougat: All you need to know
Android Nougat is here and it’s a thing of beauty. It may not have the same dramatic visual overhaul we were first treated to in Android Lollipop two versions ago, but Nougat provides a lot of major improvements and refinements over Marshmallow, along with quite a few nice new usability changes. With that in mind, join us as we run through all the major Android 7.0 features.
While some of us may have seen large parts of Nougat already, we’ll be approaching this Android 7.0 review from the perspective of a new user – someone who hasn’t “seen it all before”.
Nougat in brief
The general feel of Android has become increasingly stable since Lollipop, with less feature flip flopping, fewer performance issues and a greater focus on polish. Nougat is all about extending functionality, improving pre-existing features and further expanding what’s possible in stock Android.
Marshmallow largely maintained the overall look of Lollipop but baked in some big new features like Doze Mode, the fingerprint API and granular permissions. One year on and Nougat follows suit, maintaining the home screen and app drawer design of Marshmallow, but digging even deeper, laying the fundamental groundwork for what is yet to come.
There are some new visual features to be sure, with a redesigned Settings menu and notifications area. But there’s also a lot more enhanced functionality and exciting background stuff going on in Nougat than you see on the surface.
This section will be devoted almost entirely to Nougat’s multi-tasking and split screen functionality. These are arguably the biggest ticket items in Nougat and the ones that will rightfully garner the most attention – and likely cause the most confusion. That’s because as good as Google’s implementation of multi-window mode and other multi-tasking features in Nougat are, they are a little complicated and bound to leave more than a few people behind.
Google’s new Instant Apps feature debuts in Android 7.0 and while it hasn’t gotten as much press as it should, it really is an exciting new addition to Android. In fact, we would go as far as to call it the biggest change to app stores since Apple first introduced its on-device app portal all those years ago.
In a nutshell, Instant Apps lets Android users begin using an app in the Google Play store instantly. You don’t have to buy it — heck, you don’t even have to download it. Simply open the app’s store page and you can begin testing it immediately to see if it’s something you might be interested in downloading.
This is a killer feature that really is a game-changer for users.
Multi-window App Support
Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphones have had this feature for quite some time, as have a few other Android phones. Now, all handsets can take full advantage of huge displays that have become increasingly popular over the years.
With Android 7.0 Nougat, Google has added the ability for users to open two apps side by side on the screen. That means you can watch YouTube videos while you respond to emails, read a webpage on half the screen while Facebook is updating on the other half, and so on.
Google’s new “Doze” feature debuted in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but the company is kicking its power-saving features up a notch in Android 7.0.
The original feature puts a smartphone or tablet in a dormant state when it’s not being used, but Android Nougat’s new “Doze on the Go”feature takes things a step further. Now, users will enjoy Doze’s battery-saving features even while the phone is in motion, anytime the display is off.
Also new in Android Nougat is Project Svelte, which stops apps from waking up each time a device’s network connection status changes.
Last but certainly not least is Daydream. Google saw all these different companies building separate virtual reality platforms, while likely leads to incompatibilities and can potentially hurt the VR market in the long run. In an effort to unify the mobile VR experience, Google has created the Daydream hardware and software platform for virtual reality.
This way vendors like Samsung, LG and others don’t each have to build their own VR platform or partner with different third parties. And for developers, it potentially means they can build one VR app or experience that will work across all Android devices.
Background System Updates
This new feature isn’t the only best edition you’ll find in Android 7.0 Nougat, but it truly is nothing short of a game-changer.
With Android Nougat, operating system updates will happen in the background, just like they do in Google’s Chrome OS. The system will download OTA updates in the background over Wi-Fi and install them as a separate system image on a device’s storage. Then the next time the device reboots, it’ll boot to the newly updated image. Voila!
Here’s a quick note from Google’s documentation on the feature:
Android N also adds some important new features to help keep users safer and more secure. Inspired by how Chromebooks apply updates, we’re introducing seamless updates, so that new Android devices built on N can install system updates in the background. This means that the next time a user powers up their device, new devices can automatically and seamlessly switch into the new updated system image.
WHEN WILL I GET THE ANDROID NOUGAT UPDATE?
Google has announced that it’d release its update on August 22, 2016. While many devices have received the update, some of the others might get it within the course of time.