For the past couple years Google has released developer previews for the next major versions of Android at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference. In 2014 we got our first look at Android L, and last year we got a sneak preview of Android M, which ultimately grew up to be named Android Marshmallow. This year Google I/O is set to take place on May 18th, and we’re fully expecting to see a preview build of Android N at the dev conference. Don’t want to wait until May 18th to get your hands on the next version of Android? You’re in luck — Google has just released the first developer preview for Android N.
It’s available to download at developer.android.com/preview, and for right now it’s available for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Pixel C, Nexus Player and the General Mobile 4G, an Android One device.
As is the case with all developer previews, the main goal here is for Google to get as much feedback as possible before rolling out a major software update to the masses. So everything you see in these photos could stick around for good or they could be ditched in the next dev preview. We have no way of knowing.
Just like we saw in the Android M developer preview, Google is working to bring a multi-window mode to Android phones and tablets. The last time we saw it users had to work pretty diligently to get the mode working, and now it looks like the feature is ready for all to use. Developers will need to add support for split screen multitasking in their applications in order for it to be compatible with this new mode. We’re still getting all the details together regarding how this new mode works, so we’ll update this post when we learn more.
The new multi-window API also allows for a new picture-in-picture video mode, which will allow videos to keep playing over other applications in a mini-window, much like how the YouTube app for Android currently works. As of right now we’re not entirely sure if this picture-in-picture mode will be available for all devices or just for Android TV devices.
Moving on, the notification panel has been redesigned. We saw some renders of the revamped notification panel a few days ago, and it looks like they were spot on. Now when you pull down the notification shade you’ll get quick access to a few power controls with your notifications underneath, and pressing the expandable drop-down button on the right will bring you to your full quick settings page. As for the notifications themselves, Google has ditched the card design and replaced it with a more minimalistic sheet of white. Notifications are now separated by a thin gray line, and they can be bundled together from a single application. And, perhaps most importantly, you’ll now be able to reply to notifications directly from the notification panel!
There are also a few new Doze mode enhancements in Android N. Google hasn’t gone into too much detail as of yet, but we do know that the functionality will be extended to when your smartphone’s display is turned off, not just when it’s sitting on a stationary surface. This means that you can save precious battery life when your phone is sitting in your pocket!
There’s a lot more to cover here, but those are the basics. Want to try out the N preview for yourself? You can download all the previews at this link. Also, we’ll be going hands-on with the new preview a bit later today, and we’ll be updating our full Android N post with even more details.