Android N developer preview is in: What's new in it?

While a few Android phone users across the globe are squealing in delight on getting OTA upgrades of Android Marshmallow in their phones, Google has released a developer preview of Android N ahead of its official launch later this year.

The preview version comes at a time when Android Marshmallow powers just over 1% of Android phones and over half of all Android phones are still stuck with Jelly Bean and Kit Kat versions.

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Even though Android 6.0 Marshmallow was released in October, owners of the premium Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones had to wait till February to enjoy the new operating system. Considering the penetration rate at the moment, it seems that they were lucky.

Considering that Google's next I/O conference, which usually involves launching of new Android OS versions, will be head as early as in May, Google has released the developer preview now so that it can buy more time to incorporate developer feedback.

"By releasing a “work in progress” build earlier in development, we have more time to incorporate developer feedback. Also, the earlier preview allows us to hand off the final N release to device makers this summer, so they can get their hands on the latest version of Android earlier than ever. We’re looking forward to getting your feedback as you get your apps ready for N," said Dave Burke, VP of Engineering at Google in a blog post.

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Confirming that the preview version is strictly for developers and not for regular users, Burke listed out new APIs and features that Android N will incorporate:

Multi-window

Split screen settings that are usually available in tablets will be available in smartphones too. You will also be able to switch between portrait and landscape modes.

Android N will also support picture-in-picture mode on devices like TVs, which means you will be able to connect your smartphone to your TV and play videos via apps optimised for Android N.

Direct reply notifications

You will be able to reply to text messages directly from the notifications panel in your smartphone or tablet running Android N. This feature is available in Android Wear and lets you text quickly and conveniently without having to open the messaging app.

Bundled notifications

Multiple notifications from the same app can be grouped together using this feature. This will let you prioritize notifications and sort them in terms of relevance.

Efficiency

While the Doze feature in Marshmallow lets your phone save battery when you're not using it, Android N will implement Doze whenever you turn your phone's or tablet's screen off. This way, you will be able to save a lot of battery and prolong your smartphone's life.

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While these seem to be essential features of Android N which make it an able successor of Marshmallow, we will be able to learn a lot more about the new operating system either through leaks or during the launch event in Mountain View, California between May 18-20.

Earlier, it was being speculated that the launch of Android N will signal the demise of Chrome OS. In October, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early version of the blended OS (a merging of Android with Chrome OS) will be revealed to the public in 2016. The publication added that the new OS will let us use Android OS on PCs and laptops for the first time and download apps from Google's Play Store. It would make Android the universal operating system featuring in PCs, mobile phones, smartwatches, in-car entertainment systems and Internet of Things devices.

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However, Google put paid to the rising optimism by calling the merger of Android OS with Chrome OS a figment of fantasy.

As for what N in Android N stands for, in absence of any confirmation from Google, we can expect it to be to be called either Nectarine, Nacho Cheese sauce, Nutella, Nonpareil, Numbles or just Nut. However, Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP Android, Chromecast, and Chrome OS at Google, had one thing to say about this.

"We're nut tellin' you yet."

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