Google has made available to developers the next release of Android, N, which comes with big changes aand it is expected to be delivered in its final form to device makers this summer. Here are a few APIs and features are available as a part of the Android N Developer Preview today, with more to come as Google continues developing the release:
- Multi-window - A new manifest attribute called android:resizableActivity is available for apps targeting N and beyond. If this attribute is set to true, activity can be launched in split-screen modes on phones and tablets. Developers can also specify their activity's minimum allowable dimensions, preventing users from making the activity window smaller than that size. Developers will also be able to use this on other Android devices such as smart TVs for picture-in-picture mode.
- Direct reply notifications: The RemoteInput notification API, which was originally added for Android Wear, now works in N for phones and tablets. Using the RemoteInput API enables users to reply to incoming message notifications quickly without leaving the notification shade. Learn more here.
- Bundled notifications - With N, developers can use the Notification.Builder.setGroup() method to group notifications from the same app together - for example individual messages from a messaging app. Grouped notifications can be expanded into individual notifications by using a two-finger gesture or tapping the new expansion button.
- Efficiency - Google launched Doze in Marshmallow to save battery when a device is stationary. In N, Doze additionally saves battery whenever the screen turns off. Also, Google is continuing to invest in Project Svelte, an effort to reduce the memory needs of Android so that it can run on a much broader range of devices, in N by making background work more efficient.
- Improved Java 8 language support - Google brings Java 8 language features to Android. With Android's Jack compiler, developers can now use many popular Java 8 language features, including lambdas and more, on Android versions as far back as Gingerbread. The new features help reduce boilerplate code.Some Java 8 language features --like default and static methods, streams, and functional interfaces -- are also now available on N and above.
- Other changes:
- Animations are faster
- Quick Settings can be handled through a short row of icons at the top of the notification shade. You can customize what appears in Quick Settings and where.
- Refreshed main Settings screen - each line shows more information now and a "Suggested" area for settings is available at the top.
- Notifications are more information-dense.
- A new "Vision Settings" button allows users to change font size or even turn on Talkback
The N Developer Preview includes an updated SDK with system images for testing on the official Android emulator and on Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Pixel C devices.
This initial preview release is for developers only and not intended for daily use or consumer use.
Google is offering the previews through a new program called the Android Beta Program. Starting from today, you can update your Android device [Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Pixel C devices] via an OTA; Google will deliver the latest developer previews right to your phone.