Image Credit: AndroidCommunity
Image Credit: AndroidCommunity

Early this week, Google was happy to announce a Developer Preview of the “N” release of Android for App developers to test, however, they surprised everyone with the spontaneous announcement of the Android N Developer Preview. This early version of the next major Android software update, due to be released later in the year, gives us a good indication of where Android is heading and what we can expect in the full release.

“We’re doing something a little different this year by releasing the preview early… really early. By releasing a work in progress build earlier in development, we have more time to incorporate developer feedback.” Dave Burke, VP of Engineering writes in a blog post.

The yet-to-be-named Android update, codenamed as “Android N,” features a multi-window mode, improved notifications, efficiency, improved Java 8 language support and more.

Google Inc. unveiled a preview version of Android N for app developers earlier this week.

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 (and to help test out these features on a tablet, developers can get a $150 discount on Pixel C), as well as on General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices.

How does it look so far? Find out everything you need to know about Android N below.

Multi-Window Mode:
Google has been working hard to bring a native and efficient multitasking system to Android, just like in its previous version the “Android M developer” preview. Although the function was eventually omitted from Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with Android N, Google now seems ready to make the leap.

Like most major platform changes, developers will have to opt in for the split screen mode to allow their apps to run smoothly. This can be done by adding a new manifest attribute called android:resizableActivity. If this attribute is set to true, your activity can be launched in split-screen modes on phones and tablets.

Split Screen display for phones and tablets  Image source: Newsfactor
Split Screen display for phones and tablets. [Image: Newsfactor] 
This attribute also allows app developers to specify their activity’s minimum size the app can be resized to and to determine whether resizing will be immediate or the application needs to restart with the required dimensions. In addition, activities can also go into picture-in-picture mode on devices like TVs, and is a great feature for apps that plays videos; be sure to set android:supportsPictureInPicture to true to take advantage of this.

Improved Notifications:
The RemoteInput notification API, which was originally added for Android Wear, now works in Android N for phones and tablets. The API enables users to reply their messages within the notification panel itself minus leaving/existing. So if you get an incoming message/text, you can hit “reply” right in the notification and start typing without opening up the messaging app.

Android N will also include “Bundled Notifications,” where users 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:
CNN Reports that, in the current version of Android, Google, included a feature called “Doze,” which put phones into a deep sleep when they were sitting on a table for a while.

“We launched Doze in Marshmallow to save battery when your device is stationary.”

In Android N, “DOZE” saves power when the screen is turned off.

“Also, we’re 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.” Google reports in its blog.