Android N Preview 2 Improved Upon the Awful Recents Screen of Preview 1

Android N Preview 2 Improved Upon the Awful Recents Screen of Preview 1

The second N Developer Preview has hit our Nexi and with it come many fixes that change the user experience for the better. The great thing about these previews is their iterative nature, and we see this perfectly at play in this update.

First of all, we must recall that the first Developer Preview brought multi-tasking changes in the form of double-tap to go to the most recent app and a “tap to scroll” function through the recents key while the menu is up. Google had also changed the dimensions of the multi-tasking menu, something I detailed in a comprehensive article that explained just why this was a terrible design decision. To my surprise, when I first booted up the multi-tasking menu on N, things had changed for the better!

As you can see above, the dimensions have been changed once more. There is still quite a bit of priority to the most recent app – as there should be – but the second-most recent app can now be accessed too without further input albeit the location of the input zone is sometimes too high for the thumb depending on how you are holding the phone. Nevertheless, this shows two important and somewhat-obvious things: that Google is actively listening to criticism about the N preview, besides technical issues or bugs; and/or that the previews are still malleable and open to change, especially warranted change, in the user experience. In a way, the name “preview” is unrepresentative of the beta nature of the program (when it is explicitly called so as well), as the community of testers is actively helping shape the future of Android N.

Screenshot_20160415-113617The other change many were quick to notice is that the “tap to scroll” feature is gone, or rather, limited to the most recent application. In my opinion, this is good: that feature was simply too inefficient in terms of time and input, I believe, and at the very least it should have started the timer from the second-most recent app. It could have been reworked, but I doubt many will miss it. The double-tap to go to the most-recent app remains, though, and now multi-tasking on N feels a lot more fluid and seamless.

Changes to multi-window are also there, as the system seems to perform better when it comes to resizing. However, I encountered a few new bugs, a particularly annoying one occurs when dragging windows in the recents menu to initiate multi-window; sometimes, the recents displays the trigger area to the side instead of top, and it can bug out the windows. Bugs aside, I’ve been using multi-window on N a lot more thanks to the fact that a YouTube update plus this preview allow for video-watching with no issues. I still wish multi-window ran on immersive mode, as the status bar and navigation keys suck up too much screen.

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There are a few neat changes in the N developer preview like a new level of urgency in notification settings, for when you need an app to notify you no matter what or where, as it’ll give your notification priority in sorting plus peek and sound. Launcher shortcuts will make life easier for those that don’t want to tinker with custom launchers, and the Vulkan API has a promising future once it gets widely utilized. Finally, the build seems more stable; I haven’t had any app crashes yet.

Performance is stellar, perhaps the fastest I’ve seen this Nexus 6P at. The experience is great for daily usage, except for battery life. If you want to daily drive this phone like I do, keep in mind you won’t get the kind of endurance you’d get with a custom kernel and ROM optimizations.So far, the battery life I am seeing is slightly worse than on the previous developer preview, with close to 3.5 hours of screen on time in about 16 hour charges, both days I’ve ran this.

It’s nice to see these previews betas get better and better and, most importantly, to see Google address the issues users have with both the bugs and the user experience. I said it before and I said it again, I believe Android N is shaping up to be the best Android release yet.

What are your thoughts on the second developer preview so far? Let us know in the comments down below!

About author

Mario Tomás Serrafero
Mario Tomás Serrafero

Mario developed his love for technology in Argentina, where a flagship smartphone costs a few months of salary. Forced to maximize whatever device he could get, he came to know and love XDA. Quantifying smartphone metrics and creating benchmarks are his favorite hobbies. Mario holds a Bachelor's in Mathematics and currently spends most of his time classifying cat and dog pictures as a Data Science graduate student.