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. Read More
Android is mainly a touch environment, but it has had rudimentary support for mice and keyboards for years. Mice will be getting more useful in Android N with the addition of a new mouse cursor API, which is available in its final form as of dev preview 4. The cursor can actually change to indicate actions just like on a desktop OS. Read More
Checking remaining battery life is a task many of us have to do far more often than we like. In Android N, the experience is a tad different from what you may be accustomed to in Marshmallow. Read More
The new Android N developer preview has some important new features, but also a lot of little changes. For example, a new package installer UI. It's not dramatically different, but you can see the new one above and the old one below for comparison. Read More
The camera might be, overall, the most complained-about feature in stock Android. While other flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, the iPhone 6S, and the HTC 10 have gratuitous features provided in their camera apps, the Nexus devices have none. No white balance adjustments, shutter speed corrections, or different filters. Maybe the most obvious option that has been missing is exposure settings, which just about every other device worth its salt has.
However, if dev preview 2 and 3 are of any indication, an option to make changes to exposure may be coming back. In Dev Preview 2, the Pixel C had a Manual Exposure toggle under 'Advanced' in Settings. Read More
The saga of "full importance" notification levels in Android N continues. The feature was introduced in the first developer preview as a more granular control method for notification settings, then it was further modified in the second developer preview with some shuffling and renaming of the different levels and the addition of a sixth one, and now in the third developer preview, we're seeing one more option: Automatic importance. Read More
Android Lollipop introduced screen pinning: a way for you to lock your device into one app until a specific shortcut was tapped to take you out of it and let you switch to something else.
In Lollipop, a screen is pinned by going to Recents and tapping the green pin button at the bottom right of any app card, and it is unpinned in one of two ways: short tapping Recents and Back simultaneously if no Accessibility service is enabled in your Settings at all, or long tapping Recents if at least one Accessibility service is switched on. That created several problems:
- the confusion over which shortcut to use depending on whether you have some Accessibility service enabled,
- the automatic switch to Recents each time you unpinned (you were pressing Recents after all...), which meant that you had to tap the app again to go back to using it,
- and more recently, the conflict with Multi-Window on N, which requires the same long-tap on Recents action to get triggered.
Confession: as a web writer who has to constantly research new stories, keep an eye on social networks, stay in contact with my coworkers, and see if that jerk on eBay has outbid me for the LEGO T-rex from the Dino Defense HQ set, I often have dozens and dozens of Chrome tabs open on my desktop by the end of the day. That sort of wanton disregard for computer memory doesn't really translate over to mobile, where the single screen limits multitasking to a certain degree. But Google is going to enable my bad habits on Android phones and tablets soon: in the third developer preview of Android N, users can open Chrome windows side by side. Read More
It would definitely seem like Google is making Android N the 'polish' release: things which haven't seen any changes for years, like the System UI icon, are getting refreshed, while features are not being included in the final release because of a lack of polish (like the dark theme and night mode). Even the update procedure is getting updated.
As well as the aforementioned System UI icon, another long standing Android fan-favorite is getting a revamp: the OS update animation. Gone is the little Android figure with his front open, a prism turning, and his antenna going. It feels like it's been in Android forever, but it might be gone soon: instead, the new animation is a swirling circle of light, which looks great but maybe has lost some of its inherent Android-y-ness. Read More