Wild Android N Developer Preview Appeared, Get it Now! [Nexus 6P/5X/6/9/Player, Pixel C]
One curious article was setting the Android community abuzz with excitement, as it announced the surprise arrival of the Android N Developer Preview, more than 2 months before this years Google I/O. Coming from a source with a lot of reputation when it comes to Android news, this was BIG news…
Until it was pulled down.
We’re talking about Ars Technica and an article that went live a few hours ago, but was pulled down very quickly for reasons that are not entirely clear. But ofcourse, once it’s online, it stays online. You can view a cached copy of the article here. The article is interesting because of two things: It talked about a lot of visual changes that appear in Android N, and the fact that it was pulled down very quickly.
Starting off, the biggest major feature of Android N will be the side-by-side view for apps for simultaneous multitasking. The implementation looks similar to what comes up on Samsung TouchWiz based ROMs as well as on some custom ROMs. The feature works on both tablets and phones alike, but unlike the multiwindow implementation in the Android M Developer, there are no clear ways to trigger and close this split screen view. The screenshots from ArsTechnica are devoid of any such control indicators, so there may be some other gesture based implementation to trigger multiwindow. You can view the screenshots of the multiwindow implementation in the Android N Dev Preview for both phones and tablets, as well as a screenshot from Android M’s Dev Preview showing the multitasking carousel with buttons for control.
Developers would need to opt-in their apps for split screen compatibility by targeting Android N, along with how their app needs to behave. This includes setting the minimum allowable dimensions as well as how the activity scaling should occur. There’s also mentions of a “picture in picture” mode, which could possibly turn apps into small floating windows.
Next up is the redesigned notification panel, which lines up with previous leaks. There will be quick toggles on top of the notification bar as well, with a button for dropping down the full Quick Settings panel. As the previous leak suggested, the card UI is replaced by a flat approach for notifications. The Quick Reply action for notifications can be viewed in the screenshot. Ars mentioned that this uses the same RemoteInput API that Android Wear uses, which means that many apps already have support for this feature.
Moving on, there’s good news for Doze lovers, as it is mentioned that this has been further improved in Android N, which was expected. In Android N, Doze will be activated right when the screen turns off rather than wait for a set of conditions that indicated that the phone was stationary and unused. The exact workings of Doze v2 is unknown, but it is being speculated that the screen off profile for Doze would be more lenient in handling apps as compared to the stationary profile (the current Doze). Google has also reportedly improved Project Svelte, which will make Android run better on low specced devices.
The next bit of reported change is of particular interest to developers, as Android N will bring also bring an update to the Java implementation by switching to OpenJDK. App developers can now use lambdas and other Java 8 features without the need of backporting support libraries. The love for Java 8 will extend beyond Android N, as Google was quoted as saying that “many popular Java 8 language features” can be used in normal development, with Android’s “Jack” compiler will make all the changes under the hood to make an app compatible with Android 2.3+. Not only can devs use newer features, they can do so without worrying about backwards compatibility.
Now, there a fair few things to note about the release. For one, the features that you see on the Developer Preview have a good chance of not making it to the final release. Multiwindow was baked into Android M Developer Preview as well, but when Marshmallow was announced, the feature was notably missing despite Google launching a productivity focused keyboard tablet. So, do not consider the Developer Preview and the features mentioned herein as final words on what you will see on Android 6.1 Nutella (or whatever it will be finally called and numbered, but this is my humble guess!).
The main intents of the Developer Preview is to give an early taste to developers, so that they can modify and mould their apps in preparation of big changes under the hood. This also provides them a chance to send feedback to Google. The sooner feedback is given, the more likely it is that it can be acted upon before the public release of the OS. In this sense, Developer Previews are Work-in-Progress: the final product may not be identical to what you see now. Nevertheless, do try it out! There are many more changes including the ability to change screen density on the fly.
The preview images are going live for Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Pixel C, Nexus 9, or Nexus Player. No love is being extending to the Nexus 5, as it reaches the end of support by the time Android N will be publicly released. Apparently, along with standard full preview images, Google launched a Beta Program channel, which provides these as OTA updates for developers.
Stay tuned for more information and coverage on these new developer builds!