The best new features in Android 7.0 Nougat

Google's operating system is everywhere, and it just keeps getting better. Here's what's new in this year's big release.

androud nougat 7.0 on nexus 6p

The latest and best changes to Google's mobile OS

Android 7.0 Nougat is rolling out now, starting (as usual) with Nexus devices and eventually moving on to other phones. By now, many of the most recent premium phones have received an update to Nougat, but updates are still rolling out for many other devices. It all depends on your manufacturer and carrier.

The new OS is loaded with new features and refinements, each one improving upon the overall Android experience. Some changes, such as bundled notifications, are quite obvious. Then there are the less visible changes, such as a new multitasking shortcut. Follow along as we take a look at what’s new in Google’s latest mobile OS.

android nougat switch

Quick app switching

You've done it a million times: You're using one app, like Twitter, when you want to pop over to another (your texting app, or Spotify maybe) to do something real quick. Then it's back to Twitter. 

Hopping to another app and back again is so common, Google made it easier in Nougat. If you double-tap the recents button, it will skip showing you the recent apps and just instantly pop you over to the last app you had open. Double-tap it again, and you pop back. Once you get used to it, it's a real time saver.

android skintones

Emoji genders and skintones

A later version of Nougat, 7.1.1, adds the new Emoji standards to select skin tones and genders. So professions that only had a male or female representation now can choose gender, and you can choose skin tones on a wide variety of emoji. So now you can have female welders, and men getting a haircut, for example.

settings adjust

Quickly adjust notification settings

Tired of that one app that keeps notifying you, but you're not sure how to silence it? Nougat makes it easier than ever to adjust notifications on an app-by-app basis. Just slide the offending notification to the right a little bit, and a gear icon will appear. Tap that to get options to adjust how notification appear for that app only. You can show notifications silently, block them entirely (handy for those games that always let you know your energy is full), or leave them as normal.

android nougat 7.0 daydreams now screen saver

Daydreams become screen savers

With Google repurposing Daydream as the namesake for its VR platform, a new name was needed for the previous Daydream feature. That new name is Screen Saver, which makes so much more sense than Daydream did in its previous incarnation. Android screen savers still work in the same fashion as they always have.

android nougat 7.0 quick app switching double tap

Quicker multi-tasking

You can now double-tap the recent apps button to quickly switch between your two most recently used apps. For example, say you’re in Gmail but need to look something up in Chrome to include in an email. You can open Chrome, find and copy a link, then double-tap the recent apps button and your device will switch back to Gmail.

android nougat 7.0 multi window

Use two apps at same time

Samsung users have long had access to using apps in a split-screen mode. With Nougat, Google is officially adding support for multi-window support to all Android devices running Android 7.0. To activate multi-window mode, long-press on the recent apps button. Whichever app you’re currently using will go to the top of the screen (on a phone, or to the left on a tablet), with a list of recent apps shown along the bottom. Select the second app you want to use from the list. Drag the divider to resize the app windows, or to maximize either of the active apps.

android nougat 7.0 split screen chrome tabs

View two Chrome tabs

It took Apple an entire year to introduce split-screen tab viewing in Safari for iPad users, but Google did it at the same time it introduced multi-window to Android. When using Chrome in multi-window mode, tap on the Menu button and select they super handy option of “Move to other window.” It’s fully acceptable to point and laugh at iOS users if you feel the need.

android nougat 7.0 drag drop multiwindow

Drag and drop text, images when in multi-window mode

When using two apps at the same time, you can drag-and-drop text between the two windows. Highlight the text, then long-press on it until the text begins to float. Drag it to a text field in another window, and let go. The same goes for sharing images between two apps, assuming they’ve been updated for the latest of Google’s wares. Magical, right?

android nougat 7.0 home screen and lock screen wallpaper

Finally, the lock screen gets a wallpaper of its own

It only took way too many years, but the day has finally come: You can now set a wallpaper specific to your home screen, and a different one for your lock screen. The process to accomplish the once unthinkable feat hasn’t changed much—after selecting an image to set as a wallpaper, you’re shown a new prompt to select where the image will live.

android nougat 7.0 clear all recent apps

Clear all recent apps

Google added a Clear All button to the recent apps list, only it’s a bit hidden. Instead of placing it at the bottom of your screen when viewing your recent apps, you need to scroll to the top of the list where you’ll find the handy Clear All text. Tap on it, and all apps are closed out. When you’ve closed all your recent apps, a new icon is displayed letting you know there are no recent items.

android nougat 7.0 apk installation source

Where did that APK come from?

Android Nougat will now keep track of where an app was installed from. Open Settings then Apps and tap on any listed application. Scroll to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see the source of the app’s installation. For example, if it was installed from the Play Store it will say as much. If it’s something you side loaded, it will state something along the lines of “Installed from Package Installer.”

android nougat 7.0 app installer animation

New installer animation

Speaking of installing applications outside of the Play Store, you’ll find a fancy new installer animation when sideloading an APK. It’s a subtle change that won’t have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day use, but it’s not a bad looking change either. Who doesn’t like seeing the Android bot whenever possible?

android nougat 7.0 bundled notifications

Bundled notifications

Have you ever posted something on Facebook, only to have your notification tray blown up with alerts of likes and comments? Me neither, but for those who have you’re going to love bundled notifications. Once an app updates for Android Nougat, it can opt to have all of its notifications bundled into one alert. Slide down on the respective notification to reveal the rest of your alerts for that particular app.

android nougat 7.0 quick reply

Reply with speed

You can now reply to messages from apps like Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, or Messenger directly from the notification. Of course, this means you can hold a conversation without having to bounce between a messaging app and another app. It’s important to note, this isn’t limited to messaging apps. Twitter apps, for example, could add the ability to reply to mentions.

android nougat 7.0 notification importance

Notification importance setting

You can now set the importance level of an app’s notifications to fit your specific use of that app, including allowing an app to ignore your DND settings. With a long-press on a notification, you can view the current importance level. Tap on More Settings where you can turn off the default automatic setting, and adjust its interruption level. As you move the slider, a brief explanation will detail each alert type.

android nougat 7.0 data saver settings

Data saver

Tired of paying for data overages? When using an Android Nougat device, you can enable Data Saver to restrict specific apps from using data in the background. Under the Data Usage menu, open Data Saver and turn it on. You can then go through a list of apps installed on your device, and enable background data for each one you want. Otherwise, apps will only gain access to a cellular data connection when you’re actively using it.

android nougat 7.0 quick quick settings

Quicker quick settings

When swiping from the top of the screen with one finger, you will see a row of quick setting shortcuts just above any pending notifications. Tap on an icon to enable or disable features such as Wi-Fi, open Battery settings, or turn on the Flashlight. It displays the first 5 items in your quick settings, so if you reorder those, you'll change what appears here.

android nougat 7.0 quick settings tiles

Tiles are so in right now

You can now add multiple Quick Setting options to your device by viewing your Quick Settings panel and tapping Edit. You can still tap on tiles to edit a setting or interact with it. Alternatively, you can still long-press on a tile to disable or enable a feature if applicable. Third-party developers now create apps that live only within a Quick Settings tile.

android nougat 7.0 settings menu

Easier Settings app navigation

When navigating through the Settings app, now you can quickly hop between various sections using the hamburger menu on the left side of your screen (or by dragging in from the left edge). Settings are broken down into the same categories as the main list, but using the slide-out menu eliminates the need to tap the back button, scroll, then select another setting category.

android nougat 7.0 settings suggestions

Suggested settings

When you open the Settings app your device will offer some recommendations for various settings and features you should set up. For example, upon initial setup Settings recommended I set up Screen lock, add en email account, set up “OK Google” commands, and change the wallpaper. Tapping on a suggestion will open the proper settings pane or app. Alternatively, you can tap on the overflow menu to hide an item from the list.

android nougat 7.0 new emojis

New Emojis

Android Nougat includes the latest and greatest Emoji approved by the powers that be, including bacon! Beyond the latest and greatest emoji baked right in to Android, you’ll also notice Google has reworked most of the emoji included on its mobile devices. Smiley faces now have a more human look and feel to them.

android nougat 7.0 cancel app downloads or updates

Cancel button for app downloads

Ever start to update or download apps from the Play Store, only to remember you’re on a cellular connection or your battery is about to die? You can now cancel downloads directly from the download notification, instead of having to tap through each item in the Play Store. Slide down the notification, tap cancel and your data bucket is safe.

android nougat 7.0 keyboard shortcut helper

Keyboard shortcut helper

Using a physical keyboard with a tablet like the Pixel C adds a level of convenience and mobile computing appeal to the tablet. However, learning and remembering each apps’ keyboard shortcuts can be a chore. With Nougat, you can press Search + / to view a list of shortcuts for the app you’re currently using.

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