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If you often download files and apps on Android, you must have noticed that the Downloads app (or the Download Manager) doesn't really do much. Whether you're triggering a download from Gmail, Chrome, or any other app, you simply get a notification that shows you the progress and nothing else. That's slightly changing in Android N with the addition of a Cancel button that lets you quickly, well, cancel the download.
Here's what things look like on Marshmallow with the example of starting an APK download from APK Mirror. The notification only has a progress bar. Tapping it takes you to the Downloads app where you can see all of your downloads. There's no visible button to cancel a download there. You'll have to long-tap on any item to get the contextual actions where the delete button actually causes the download to cancel and deletes the file. And finally, the overflow menu only shows options to select all downloads and copy the files.
Download notification and manager on M
On N, things are different and mostly for the best. The same file triggers a download notification with a very easy to spot Cancel button. Tapping the notification doesn't do anything, which is a step backward in my opinion compared to Marshmallow (but could also be an oversight in the N preview). If you manually open the Downloads app, you still get a list of your Downloads and you'll still have to long-tap them to get to the actions. Most of these are unchanged but there's a new Move to option that is most likely due to the changes to the files managing capabilities of N.
Download notification and manager on N
Where you had to know to dig into the Downloads app in previous Android versions to cancel downloads, N makes it a lot more straightforward for everyone. But I bet we can all agree that the download manager app could use a few more indispensable features like visible buttons to cancel downloads and a pause functionality. It's improving, but Google is going at it with baby steps.
Cancel button for Play Store downloads
It's worth noting that the fact that the Download Manager has a Cancel button now means that it will show up on Play Store downloads too, making it super easy to cancel app and game downloads from the notification. This should be a godsend for those of us who notice app updates happening at inopportune times or on slow internet connections and who then rush to tap the notification to stop them, only to be met with a blank Play Store page that takes an eteeeeeeeeeeernity to load. This has bothered me for years and I am too happy to see a Cancel option in the notification should I need to stop a download immediately.
Obviously, this works for app updates as well as new installs. When you have a series of apps updating, canceling one just moves to the next, essentially acting as the x button next to the download progress bar in the Play Store.
This was important to highlight separately because the Play Store's downloads aren't visibly managed by the Download Manager (they don't show up inside the Downloads app). So some of you, like us, might have not guessed that the new feature in N's Downloads also affects the Play Store. Oh, and it also works for other downloads that you likely didn't know were managed by the Download Manager, like offline speech packages.
N's Download Manager lets you cancel Play Store and offline speech packages too.