Android N developer preview is live – brings split-screen mode, redesigned notifications and more

by: Jimmy WestenbergMarch 9, 2016

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, 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.

Android n multi window 2

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.

Android N notifications

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.

  • John Kats

    Add themes… So the stupid oems can more faster add their shitty ux…

    • scoupdogg

      you do realise that themes are a MINOR MINOR, part of why OEM are so late.
      it have much more to do with different drivers for different parts, their “ridiculous” testing standards etc etc.

      • John Kats

        Drivers are from manufacturers framework is the oems so whatever google can do to make their work easier is a good addition…

  • Roby

    Nothing exciting in that preview imo

    • Ricardo Thomas (Ricki13th)

      Your kidding?!

      • realist

        How about you telling him what’s so exciting about the N update. Most of these features have been on Touchwiz for a long time. Some people tried to tell you why they like Touchwiz but some you didn’t listen instead they were ridiculed and told that those were gimmicks. Now all of a sudden Nexus fanboys are getting excited for the same ”Gimmicks”.
        Never listen to Nexus fanboys they can’t think for themselves. Now to me Nexus fanboys and Apple fanboys are just as stupid as each other cause they can’t think for themselves.

        • Hemanth Dasari

          This is huge because core android implementation of all these so called “Gimmicks” enables developers to optimize apps once for all devices rather than implementing once for every device.

          I hate touchwiz coz it changes too much from the core implementation !

          It’s just like if android is doing this we should do the opposite !

        • Dave Wells

          Have you ever considered that you, yourself, might be a Touchwiz fanboy? Because you kinda sound like one.

        • Kawshik Ahmed

          The feature that Samsung and LG implement uses their Custom API so Developer couldn’t use that API to other non Samsung or LG phones. But because now it’s on Android itself the implementation became universal. So, any device that uses Android N+ will have those feature.

        • KuraIthys

          I know. Though some features are only worthwhile in theory.

          I stare at the multi-app feature of my samsung tablet all the time, but it’s so…
          Not because it doesn’t work, but because only a handful of apps work with it, making it useless unless you happen to have a situation where you only need apps that are compatible with it.
          For me, that’s almost never.

          Meanwhile, hearing that the core Android implementation of the same idea requires app developers to explicitly support it makes me think it’ll be just as useless…

          No app support = unusable.
          Which for something like having 2 (or more) apps running at once is a good way to kill it outright…

          Still, it’s a good thing to see some of these more obvious features implemented anyway…

  • Jaime

    Not to start a flame war or anything but multiwindow and picture in picture videos date way back to the galaxy S3. The notification shade also looks like the marshmallow notification in S6/S7

    • what?

      Watch Nexus fanboys try to dance their way out of this one. Remember the excuse Apple fanboys used to say when Apple copy android features? Now its the trump card used by Nexus fanboys.

      • Kawshik Ahmed

        I don’t have a Nexus but it’s good to be happy in this case. The feature that Samsung and LG implement uses their Custom API so Developer couldn’t use that API to other non Samsung or LG phones. But because now it’s on Android itself the implementation became universal. So, any device that uses Android N+ will have those feature.

    • I still use an old Galaxy S4, and it has bothered me ever since I got a Nexus 9 tablet that I can’t customize the quick toggles. I can do that in my S4, which is 3 years old. These updates are certainly welcome.

  • Anothermuse

    I see an app drawer. That’s a good sign right?