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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: Apps marked as Device Administrator can be easily uninstalled (Hallelujah!)

"Hey Rita, you know phones, right?"

Internal answer: "Here goes another silly question. Brace yourself." External answer: "Uh... yes?!"

"So I'm not sure if my phone has a virus or something. There's this app and I can't uninstall it."

Internal answer: "F%#$$#^@ it's Device Administrator again." External answer: "Nah, don't worry, it's just not letting you uninstall because the app has some feature that needs to be disabled first. (Low mumbling: F^$%ing Device Administrator, WHY?!) Gimme... There, uninstalled."

"Oh, thanks!"

I can't tell you how many times this has happened over the past couple of years. The first time someone told me they couldn't uninstall an app from their phone, I had to Google it because I'd never encountered something like that before, and that's when I learned that apps that set themselves as Device Administrator (most often, these are apps that can lock the screen) can't be uninstalled unless you deactivated that capability first.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: Send GIFs directly from the keyboard

Sometimes a few words just don't get across the depth and range of your emotions. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what's a GIF worth? I think it's either like a million words or negative words—whatever the case, you can send GIFs directly from the keyboard in Android 7.1.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: "Android is upgrading" optimization step is now a background task, doesn't block startup anymore

For many a year, Android users have been seeing a familiar dialog saying 'Android is upgrading' when the operating system updates or in the event a new ROM is flashed, stopping them from using the device until it has finished optimizing apps. Those days are over: with Android 7.1, the 'Android is upgrading' process is now carried out in the background.

In 7.0, this dialog was sped up considerably - as Ryan says, it's almost instant. However, the Android team has gone one step further and removed it completely in 7.1, allowing the process to be carried out mostly silently, apart from a notification in the shade telling you it's doing this, and a progress bar indicating how far it is from complete.

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Googler confirms neither night light nor fingerprint reader swipe gestures are coming to Nexus devices

The Android 7.1 developer preview is rolling out, so Nexus phones are getting their first taste of the software shipping on the Pixel. Since it's a dev preview, it can be hard to know if missing features are missing because they're not done, or if they just aren't going to be included at all. Googler Ian lake has clarified that two features not listed as Pixel-exclusive still won't be coming to existing Nexus phones—night light and fingerprint reader gestures.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: Tapping the security patch date loads the security bulletin in your browser

Google started including the security patch version in the About Phone menu last year in the wake of the Stagefright vulnerability. This is simply a date that tells you which patch level a device runs. As of Android 7.1, that line in the settings is more than just a date. It's also a link to the security bulletins.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: The new system update check denies you cathartic button mashing

We've all done it—a big OTA is rolling out and you want it right this minute. So, you open the OTA update checker in settings and mash the button a few times in an effort to will the update into existence on your phone. It never works, and as of Android 7.1, you can't even go through this pointless ritual anymore. There's a timeout between checks and no button.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: Smart Storage helps you make space by deleting old stuff

Even though most devices some with at least 32GB of space these days, there are still plenty of times you run low and need to clear out some junk. In the Android 7.1 dev preview, there's a new storage cleaner that makes it easy to find the old stuff without all that tedious digging around in file managers. It can even automate the process.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: App shortcuts are supported in the Google Now Launcher

There were some interesting features announced as part of the launch of Google's Pixel phones. While some are exclusives to the new handsets, others are a part of the new Android 7.1 Nougat. One of the headlining features for the new OS version is the App Shortcuts API, a way for apps to offer fast access to select screens and functions. If you've been looking forward to trying it out, the Google Now Launcher in combination with today's developer preview fully supports app shortcuts and there's already plenty of examples to try out.

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The Pixel and Pixel XL are guaranteed Android version updates for at least 2 years

Updates are still a huge pain point for many Android OEMs, but Google's usually been okay with them. Historically, devices with the Nexus nameplate have received around two years' worth of updates; for instance, the LG-made Nexus 5, which was released in late 2013, is stuck (officially) on Marshmallow, which was released in late 2015. That trend seems to be continuing with the Pixel phones.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: The notification panel now has room for an extra Quick Settings tile and easier access to Settings

The Android 7.1 Nougat Developer Preview 1 just came out for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C, and we're already seeing quite a few improvements over 7.0 Nougat. Some of the most noticeable changes are in the notification panel; not only are there now six mini Quick Settings toggles, but Settings is easier to get to.

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