Google Sneaks Out Surprise Android N Preview

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Developer preview of as-yet-unnamed version of Android mobile software features split-screen apps and improved Doze function

Google has sprung a major surprise by releasing an early preview version of Android N, the next major iteration of its mobile operating system.

The ‘Developer Preview’ version of Android N, which set to receive a public release in the summer, contains several new features, notably multi-window applications that can be used across more than one device, updated notifications, and better power efficiency.

It can be downloaded now, and will be initially available on Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Google’s Pixel C notebook, the latter of which is available with a $150 discount for developers looking to try out the software.

Early bird

Typically, the company reveals its latest releases at its Google I/O show, normally held at the company’s Californian headquarters in April.

“We’re doing something a little different this year by releasing the preview early… really early,” Dave Burke, Android’s vice president of engineering said in a blog post.

“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.”

android nThe most significant new feature in Android N appears to be ‘multi-window’ which will make it easier for multitasking, as well as improved notification tools that let users reply to messages without having to leave the notification shade.

There is also a new bundled notifications feature to allow users to group notifications from the same app together – for example individual messages from a messaging app. These grouped notifications can then be expanded into individual notifications by using a two-finger gesture or tapping the new expansion button.

Android N also carries improved support for Java 8 languages, and features improvements to the Doze power-saving mode first introduced in Android Marshmallow, which will now additionally save battery whenever the screen turns off.

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