The latest version of Android is here, and it’s coming to a Nexus near you.
Android 7.0 Nougat is Google’s way of refining what we already have, and adding some essential features to an operating system they were already happy with.
Since Android 5.0 we’ve seen how Google was shifting their design language on the phones they sell themselves and the apps and services that come on your phone. Android itself has followed this trend, and with Marshmallow we saw a flat but bold design that tied everything together.
Android Nougat doesn’t make major changes to the way your phone looks or the way it “feels.” But what Google has done under the hood brings some new features — and much needed polish — to our favorite smartphone operating system.
Android Nougat makes updates faster and easier
When it’s time for your phone or tablet to get updated, you won’t have to do anything. While you’re doing the things you normally do all the hard work is done in the background — very similar to the upgrade experience on Chrome OS. The only thing you need to do is restart your phone to finish things up.
Here’s Google’s succinct explanation about the situation:
Android Nougat also adds some important new features to help keep users safer and more secure. Inspired by how Chromebooks apply updates, we’re introducing seamless updates, so that new Android devices built on Nougat can install system updates in the background. This means that the next time a user powers up their device, new devices can automatically and seamlessly switch into the new updated system image.
Changes to what’s called the run-time compiler also mean that you won’t have to wait as long while all your apps are optimizing once you do restart — we’ve all been there watching an “Optimizing …” screen for 30 minutes after an OTA update.
Sometimes when you’re doing two things at once it’s handy to be able to see them both at the same time. That’s what Multi-window is: more than one “window” on your phone’s screen.
We’ve seen a similar feature with the same name from Samsung (and to a lesser extent LG) for a while, but Google has built things in a way that any app will just work, without the developer — or you — doing anything special. The screen will be split 50/50 by default, and it’s quick to pull up different apps on the top and bottom on a phone or left and right on a tablet.
For devices with larger screens, there’s also a freeform mode that let’s you change a window’s size.
Even better notifications
With Android Nougat, you can reply to your notifications directly from their spot in the tray. You won’t have to open the app or install anything extra, either. Once the folks who built your app support the feature, it will just work.
Don’t worry though. When you need to see more or do more than just send a quick reply, you can still tap the notification to open an app and see everything. And with better bundling of multiple notifications from the same app, you’ll be able to tell when you need to see everything even easier.
Your phone will feel faster and use less battery
Google’s “Project Doze” — its code name for ways to have your phone use less battery while it’s not in your hands with the screen on — that was introduced with Marshmallow has gotten a major update in Nougat. While it previously worked great while the phone was sitting still and not plugged in, now it works while it’s in your pocket or purse. How it does it hasn’t changed much; once your phone’s screen has been off for a while, it stops doing things in the background all the time, and instead uses what Google calls “windows” to check for new messages or do things like update your location.
Better ways to manage memory and when (and how) apps can run in the background (Google’s “Project Svelte”) means that you won’t have as much unnecessary stuff happening when you weren’t expecting it to happen. By only allowing things that you really need to run, your phone will perform better and use less battery.
Using less mobile data
Overage charges from your phone company suck. With Android Nougat new tools can help keep them from happening.
When you’re on a metered connection (one that’s not unlimited) — cellular or Wi-Fi — the new Data Saver setting can block background random data usage and restrict things like checking for tweets or emails so that your phone uses less data.
You can tell Data Saver to ignore certain apps, and while it’s active you’ll have an icon in your notifications to let you know what’s up.