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android n

InBrief
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Cerberus anti theft gets fingerprint sensor support, Android N features, and bug fixes in version 3.4

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AOSP changelog posted for Android N Developer Preview 4

We've been keeping close tabs on the new features and adjustments made with each new developer preview of Android N, but there are obviously a boatload of other changes under the hood, many of them aren't obvious to the naked eye. That's where it can help to look deeper into the source code. It took a couple of weeks for the changes to be published to AOSP, but now that they are available, we've got a changelog ready for examination.

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Weekend poll: Android N's notifications, love 'em or hate 'em?

Android N has made some significant, nay, major changes to the notification cards compared to the outgoing L. For one, notifications now just look a lot more same-y: your Hangouts notifications don't look much different than your Inbox notifications which don't look much different from your Gmail notifications and so on and so forth. Small icons, little border separating individual cards, and a whole lot of white space can make Android N's notifications more difficult to visually parse, particularly if you're getting a huge number of notifications.

The collapsible notifications - aka bundling - are also something of a mess at the moment.

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Exclusive: Google may be redesigning Android's home and navigation buttons (again)

What you're looking at above could well be the appearance of the navigation bar in Android N on Google's next Nexus phones, Marlin and Sailfish, when they launch - and possibly all devices using the stock navbar in Android N. According to a reliable source, Google's newest Nexuses may be getting a navbar do-over, but it remains unclear at this time if the new design we're seeing here will be available to all devices running N or only Google's in-house Nexus brand. A closer look follows.

Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether.
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Freeform multi-window mode won't be enabled on the Pixel C or any of the Nexus devices in Android N

Android N is introducing multi-window support in a limited way. A split-screen option sits apps side-by-side, so you can see more than one at once. But if you want to resize and drag windows like you would on a PC, it can be done, but it takes a bit more work.

We didn't expect to see freeform multi-window support in the upcoming version of Android, but it would be nice to see the feature appear as an optional flag. That won't happen either.

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Newest version of Messenger in Android N greatly improves direct reply with mini conversation view

Direct reply is easily one of my favorite new features of Android N, and apps are actually being surprisingly quick to adopt it - Twitter and Facebook are already on board, along with Google Hangouts and Messenger. But the implementations we've seen to date are, in my opinion, a little less than optimal.

When I first saw direct reply, my first thought was: "Oh, great - mini conversations I can just have in my notification bar - no need to open the app!" Which seems like what Google was going for, but that Hangouts and Messenger didn't really initially accomplish.

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Google has already fixed the weird notification toggle behavior from the last Android N dev preview

Most of the intrepid users who tried the most recent Android N developer preview were none too pleased with the new notification toggle behavior. Google changed the WiFi and Bluetooth buttons from simple toggles to connection list triggers. After more than 1,500 issue tracker stars in just a few days, Google has relented.

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PSA: Android Auto navigation isn't working in Android N Developer Preview 4

And here's reason number 249 not to install beta software onto a device that's critical to your everyday life. Android Auto users who have upgraded their Nexus phones to the latest version of the Android N Developer Preview are reporting that Google Maps navigation is no longer working in the car interface. (Remember, Android Auto isn't an independent system - it needs a powered-up and connected phone in order to work.) The Maps app is simply crashing on launch and returning users to the Auto home screen.

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WiFi and Bluetooth notification toggles in dev preview 4 now open the connection list, and no one is happy about it

Android N is making some changes to the notification shade, not least among them the addition of settings toggles at the top of the screen without opening quick settings. In previous preview builds these were toggles as you'd expect, but DP4 changes it up. Now, the WiFi and Bluetooth buttons open the full modal connection list screen. The response from users has not been positive.

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[Update: Fix] Android N Developer Preview 4 breaks Android Pay functionality once again

Let me just start this article with the following caveats: one, Google makes it more than clear that not everything will work in a Developer Preview Android build, or in the new beta system in general. Two, Android Pay is hardly an essential service - suddenly losing access to it doesn't make your credit or debit cards stop working. Three, it's easy enough to get it back by flashing an older Developer Preview or stock build on any Nexus device that's likely to run into this particular problem.

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