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[Weekend Discussion] Let's Talk Android N: Favorite Features, Small Changes, And More - What's N To You?

The Android N preview is here, and we're all rather excited about it. (Galaxy S7? G5? Mi 5? What's that?) Android N, even in its primordial preview form, is already showing us tons of new features and changes to the Android OS at large. There are over forty Android N stories on Android Police already, and N has been announced for under a week. And we're still on the first preview. There's a lot going on here.

And there's doubtless more we haven't discovered yet. Changes that will pop up as the N preview continues to update over the next four-plus months, the longest preview of any Android OS release yet.

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[Update: Images Will Work When Apps Add Support] Android N Feature Spotlight: Drag And Drop Text Between Apps In Multi-Window

You're probably aware of Google's new multi-window feature in Android N. We've demoed it a few times, but there's yet more multitasking goodness to go over. When you're in split-screen, it's possible to drag and drop text between windows. Yes, Samsung has done this for a few years, and the Android N implementation is messy. Buy hey, we're getting there.

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Android For Work Updated With Profile Security Challenge, Wallpaper Locking, Work Mode Toggle, And Much More


Google is really focused on making Android more work-friendly, and N adds a bunch of new features to improve Android for Work. For starters, there's now a toggle that'll completely disable a device's work profile, including apps, notifications, and background sync. While work mode is turned off, a persistent icon will be displayed in the status bar to remind users that work apps can't launch.

Screenshot_20160311-085845 Screenshot_20160311-085833Image credit to Andrew Quebe

Work profiles in N now also support an additional layer of protection by letting administrators specify a security challenge whenever a work app is launched. This challenge may be in the form of either a pin, a fingerprint, or a password, and the administrator can also specify things like the required minimum password length or the password's "quality."

Here's a quick overview of the many more new additions to Android for Work in N:

  • Always-on VPN lets the device automatically start up a work VPN at boot time, so that apps can only access the internet through a "secure" connection.
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[Deal Alert] Silver & Rose Gold Asus ZenWatch First Gen $99 At Amazon

The first gen Asus ZenWatch is $99.95 today on Amazon. It's been that price before, and it will likely be that price again. The silver & rose gold model with a tan strap is the only color option.

For someone still on the sidelines wondering what this whole Android Wear craze is all about, this is a solid entry into the world of wearables. The ZenWatch sports a 1.2 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM along with a square 1.63" 320 x 320 AMOLED touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 3. It's also dustproof and splashproof and has a heart rate sensor, which was oddly not included in the second gen watch (probably because people complained the one in the first gen watch isn't all that good).

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Multiple Device Locales Are Now Supported, Allowing Search Results In Multiple Languages And Other Goodies

Are you bilingual? And I mean bilingual in the real, fluent sense, not in the "one year of high school Spanish" sense. If so, you'll want to check out a new multi-lingual option in the Language & Input menu in Android N. This might seem counterintuitive, but consider the advantages of your phone knowing which languages you know: when taking advantage of new API settings, apps like Search can show you content in multiple languages that are relevant to you, or skip the "translate to English" message when it knows you don't need it.

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Apps In The Share Menu Can Be Pinned To The Top Of The List

Sharing works pretty well in Android - the standard "share" command and its collection of APIs allows for easily getting content from one app to another. But if you're anything like most Android users, you have dozens of apps installed that include Share functions, and you're only used to actually using Share in a few of them. Android N has a little feature that makes that interaction much more user-friendly: Share apps can now be pinned to the top of the cross-app menu.

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Scoped Directory Access Gives Apps An Easy Way To Ask Users For Access To Common Folders

File storage on Android has been a complicated subject over the years. It started very simply with private folders for each app and a pair of permissions for read and write access to just about everything else. The seeds of change were planted with Honeycomb when Google quietly closed off write access to secondary storage like SD cards, but most people didn't take notice until Google insisted OEMs enforce the same rules in KitKat.

Each year since, new APIs have been introduced to give developers new ways to work with the filesystem or even abstract it out of view while also improving security and maintaining privacy.

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Google Confirms You Can Get OTA Updates For The N Preview Even If You Manually Flash The System Image

Many of you were a little overexcited when the Android N developer preview appeared the other day and instantly flashed it on your device. If so, you may have been dismayed to learn that doing so apparently prevented you from getting OTA updates in the new beta program. At least, that's how things looked at the time—it said so right on the download page. We reached out to Google to confirm that, and it turns out that warning wasn't worded quite right. You can still get OTAs after flashing the system image.

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Navigation Buttons Now Dim For A Slightly-Tweaked Lights Out Mode

Before Android 4.4, media-focused apps replaced the navigation icons with three dimmed out dots. These placeholders shared the same functions as the regular buttons, but they were less intrusive.

With KitKat, design guidelines started nudging developers toward Immersive mode, which hides the navigation bar entirely, bringing it back with a swipe from the edge of the screen. The other encouraged option is Lean Back mode, which brings back the system bars by tapping.

But Lights Out mode and its three dimmed dots never went away for good, as some apps never embraced one of the alternative options. Now, in N, it seems to be taking a different form.

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Android TV Supports Multiple Recorded Sessions For DVR-Like Functionality

Android 6.0 already includes support for pausing and time-shifting on TV devices, but Android N adds a more robust method of creating multiple recordings in supported apps. These can be scheduled in advance or triggered as you're watching. There aren't any apps yet to test this, but it sounds very much like DVR functionality.

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