Samsung Hints at Feature Changes in Android N: Better Stylus Support?

Samsung Hints at Feature Changes in Android N: Better Stylus Support?

Samsung clearly knows something we don't

We don’t yet know much about Android N (after all, we’re still a few months away from the next I/O) but we do know that Google works quite closely with several major OEMs to ensure that the OEMs can get the update incorporated into their own devices as fast as they possibly can.

This means that OEMs like Samsung have inside details about Android N that we, the general public, don’t yet know about. Samsung is constantly at work behind the scenes working on new features for their flagship devices, and they need to ensure that these features will be compatible with the next Android version. Sometimes that means removing features because they’ll no longer be needed, ie. they’ve become ‘deprecated’, as Google has decided to officially introduce the feature as a core feature of Android. And it just so happens that Samsung may have inadvertently unveiled something about Android N: better stylus support.

A Tablet Renaissance?

Android on tablets has been traveling on a rather rocky road for much its existence. From the Motorola Xoom running Honeycomb to the Nexus 9 and now the Pixel C, Google has experimented with Android on tablets with mixed success. Other OEMs like Samsung  have made major strides in making Android a worthwhile tablet OS by focusing on software enhancements such as multi-window and various S-Pen features borrowed from the Note series. Google seemed to have rushed the release of the Pixel C, but they’ve promised better software for the tablet in an AMA on Reddit. Split-screen/multi-window is rather old news, though, as we know the feature is already in stock Android (albeit disabled for being a bit buggy at the moment) but what we haven’t seen yet is better support for styluses on Android. Sure, you can already use a stylus to navigate the interface, but Samsung has shown us that there’s more to styluses than just flicking the screen with a pen.

In fact, Samsung may have revealed that Android N will in fact be bringing better stylus support. In its developer page for the Look API, Samsung lists various features supported by the API:

  • Edge
    • Edge Single Mode
    • Edge Single Plus Mode
    • Edge Feeds Mode
    • Edge Immersive Mode (will be deprecated in N)
  • S-Pen
    • AirButton (will be deprecated in N)
    • SmartClip (will be deprecated in N)
    • WritingBuddy (will be deprecated in N)
    • PointerIcon

Notice the pattern? Several major S-Pen features such as the AirButtonSmartClip, and the WritingBuddy will be deprecated in Android N. Now, these features make up a large part of the Samsung Note’s S-Pen feature arsenal, so it doesn’t make much sense for Samsung to drop support in its API for them all of a sudden in Android N unless Google is planning something on its end. Say, maybe Google will include these features as a part of Android N, and so developers will no longer need to use Samsung’s Look API in order to use these features?

i-want-to-believeIt would make sense given that Google has already promised to bring better tablet-specific features in Android N. Of course, this is far from an official confirmation so take this as speculation on our part based on what we know of Android N already, but it does open up some nice possibilities… needless to say, we want to believe.

Oh yeah, and Samsung also casually officially confirmed the existence of the S7 Edge on that page, which is also nice. But that’s pretty much an open-secret by this point.

What feature do you most want to see in Android N? Let us know in the comments below!


About author

Mishaal Rahman
Mishaal Rahman

I am the Editor-in-chief of XDA. In addition to breaking news on the Android OS and mobile devices, I manage all editorial and reviews content on the Portal. Tips/media inquiries: [email protected]