was so busy creating a atsApp rival a chatbot on steroids that it didn’t have any new Android N features to share with us during dnesday morning’s I/O keynote. Instead, the company decided to introduce the first “beta-quality” build of the new mobile operating system. us, wants your input on what Android N should be named when it rolls out later this summer.
“Often the hardest part of creating an Android release is coming up with the name,” said Android engineering chief Dave Burke during the keynote. “And I have no idea why, but this year the ‘N’ dessert name is proving trickier than all of the others.”
Instead of racking their brains, or looking for another corporate partner, wants to crowdsource this year’s Android title. If you think you’ve got a good one, head over to roid.com/n submit your idea.
In addition to naming the release, anyone with a Nexus 5X, 6, 6 9, or xel C can visit Android.com/beta to join up to get the latest beta build of Android N as an over-the-air update. Be warned, however, that beta builds tend to be unstable. Even though says this build of Android N is fairly stable, remember that it’s still a beta— you may regret installing it on your primary phone.
The Big Stuff
ile nothing particularly new showed up during the Android N introduction at I/O, the company did spend some time highlighting the OS. This year’s Android release is all about three main categories: performance, security, productivity.
’ve already seen the productivity features in earlier developer previews, but here’s what is most excited about: Android N is going to change the way the “recents” button (the square) works to help make using your device more efficient. Instead of showing you what feels like an endless stream of recently used apps, will cut it down to around seven. Burke says the company’s research discovered that’s about as far back as most users are willing to go.
The “recents” button also has a new feature called Quick Switch. en you double-tap that square, Android will automatically switch back to the previously used app. This will allow you to move between apps rapidly, like when you’re consulting your calendar while on a phone call.
also showed off its split-screen window feature for phones tablets, the picture-in-picture mode for Android TV. There was also a brief look at the new notifications functionality that lets you reply to messages inside the notifications window shade.
Finally, Android N will come with support for Unicode 9 emoji that include increased skin tone variations more human-looking emoji. says it is the first mobile platform to support Unicode 9 emoji. The company also said it was deeply involved in the next generation of emoji including adding more images of women in professional roles.
Android N will come rocking Vulkan, the new open stard graphics A that is also available on s. You can read more about Vulkan on , but basically it’s the cross-platform alternative to DirectX 12 the successor to Open G
also spent some time talking about low-level stuff such as Android N’s T (just-in-time) compiler. That may not sound like fun, but says the new compiler makes app installs 75-percent faster reduces app code size by 50 percent. Smaller code size means less storage space required, which is an obvious benefit for Android users. Most importantly, however, the performance changes means the end of that “Android is starting” screen where your device “optimizes” every app on your phone before getting to the lock screen.
For security, the biggest addition is that Android will now update like Chrome does. In other words, Android is getting background updates with no user interaction required. It just downloads in the background, the next time you start-up your device you’ll find a fresh Android build that is ready to go.
also said Android N will encrypt at the file level instead of the block level. One direct benefit for users is that you won’t have to enter your password when an Android N device starts up.
That’s all spent time on with Android N on dnesday, but we’ll be keeping an eye on new preview releases for additional features. In the meantime, start submitting your ideas for the Android N dessert name.
rsonally, I’m partial to Nantucket Cranberry e.