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Android N Developer Preview 2 Settings Hint At Deeper Virtual Reality Integration

Virtual reality is the tech topic du jour, with nearly every major hardware and software company (or one of their partners) looking into it in some capacity. Time will tell if this is just a fad or something that will truly change the way we interact with technology, but Google is hedging its bets. In addition to the growing Cardboard VR platform, a few user-facing changes in the second developer preview of Android N point to more robust support for virtual reality in the future.

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[Shrug, Facepalm] For The First Time Ever, Android Supports More Emoji Than iOS Does

For a long, long time, emoji support on Android has been playing catch-up with iOS — sometimes lagging behind by as much as several years. In many cases, characters sent from another device (such as an iPhone) wouldn't display at all on Android, leaving a lot of information lost in translation. Even the few characters that did render were often depicted differently: if you've been on Android since the days of Jelly Bean, you probably remember those peculiar little monochrome Bugdroids that Google used in lieu of smiley faces.

A lot has changed since then: emoji on Android have gained some color, they more closely match the samples from the Unicode Standard, and they've grown to include several hundred different characters.

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Android N Dev Preview 2 Adds A Pitch Slider Option To Text-To-Speech Settings

For those who find Google’s synthetic speech-to-text voice somewhat robotic and grating… well, there’s really nothing that can be done about it. But if you prefer said voice to be higher or lower (or you just want it to sound really funny on those few occasions that you use it), the second release of the Android N developer preview offers it as an option.

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Android N Dev Preview 2 Patches Bug In Secure App Flag That Revealed Important Data In Recent Apps List

Dev previews are by definition not finished, so bugs are to be expected. Sometimes bugs are also patched, though. You might have noticed something that looks broken in the new Android N dev preview recent apps list, but it's not. The missing app previews are actually addressing a bug in the secure apps flag. It's a security thing.

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Android N Dev Preview 2 Expands Quick Reply To The Lockscreen

Quick reply came to Android in the first Android N dev preview, allowing users to reply to notifications from the notification shade. Although not many apps support quick reply as of yet, Google has expanded the feature to the lock screen.

The notification will come in and arrive on the lock screen. It will not be expanded by default, so pull down on it slightly to expand, revealing 'Reply,' which will automatically draw down the notification shade, at which point 'Reply' can be tapped on and a message typed in.

GIF of lock screen quick reply.


The lock screen controls in N dev preview 2.

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[Update: Calculator Works When Device Is Locked] Android N Dev Preview 2 Adds A Calculator Quick Settings Tile

We already know that Android N is bringing editable Quick Settings into the main UI after it got a test run in Android 6.0's system UI tuner. Now, the second developer preview has added a new Quick Settings tile to the interface—the calculator. Can you guess what it does? Yep, it opens the calculator.

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Android N Dev Preview 2 Adds A Sixth Full Importance Notification Setting Level

In the first Android N Dev Preview, we spotted a Full Importance setting in the System UI Tuner that allows you to granularly control each app's notifications and decide whether you want them to show up, play sound, peek on top of your screen, climb to the top of the notification list, and more.

In the second N preview, the 5 levels are getting slightly renamed and there's an sixth added level for very urgent notifications. First, you'll notice a new Min importance setting level, but it does what the previous Low importance setting used to. The new Low importance is for what used to be the Normal importance previously.

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Google Launcher On Android N Dev Preview 2 Has Pinch To Overview And App Info When Dragging From The Home Screen

Many of the new features in the second Android N dev preview have actually been additions or improvements to Google Now Launcher - we've had the controversial new folders and home screen / lock screen wallpaper options. Here's a third one, and it's a double whammy this time: pinch to overview on the home screen, instead of just long tapping, and finally some consistency when apps are dragged from the home screen or app drawer.

Pinch to overview works as you'd expect: a two finger pinch on any home screen shows the home screen overview, with wallpaper, widgets, and settings options at the bottom.

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Android N Dev Preview 2 Limits Fast App Switching To Just Two Apps

One of the coolest features in the first two Android N previews was the fast app switching feature of the overview button. It was essentially like alt-tab on Windows, and it made it a breeze to cycle through recent apps. In the new developer preview, Google appears to have drastically scaled back this feature. You can only toggle between two apps now.

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Google Launcher On Android N Dev Preview 2 Lets You Set Different Wallpapers For Homescreen And Lockscreen

It's something custom ROMs have been able to do for years, but has never found its way into stock Android. Well, the second Android N dev preview changes that: Home screen and lock screen wallpapers can now be different, if you so choose.

When a wallpaper is set, it now asks if you'd like to apply the wallpaper on your Home screen, Lock screen, or both. Interestingly, while there aren't any stock live wallpapers in N Dev Preview 2 (live wallpapers are still supported, there's just not any preloaded), live wallpapers are not able to be set as just a lock screen wallpaper.

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