Google has announced its newest Android version, 7.0 aka Nougat. It’s rolling out to compatible Nexus and Android One devices today. It’s good news for those who have those devices but the rest will have to wait for the release from their manufacturers.
As with every new Android version, Nougat also brings various new features. We happened to have an Android One device on which we could install the update. So here is the full feature review of latest version of Android.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated and requested feature is now available. In Nougat, Android apps now gain the ability to be resized. It has been available for a while now on LG, Samsung and Apple devices but Google has now implemented it at a system-level, hoping that its becomes well-supported by all apps.
There are ways you can use to start the multi windows:
- Long press the recent apps button from inside an app
- Open recent apps, long press on an app and drag to either the top or the right side (for tablets) of the screen.
- Swipe up on the recent apps button
The third step requires you to enable this system in the System UI tuner and will not work without it.
We tested out multi-window, and it seemed to work pretty well. You could use multi-screen for online shopping on Chrome on one window and have the calculator open in another. You can also read a ProPakistani article on one window while reading your emails on another. Or even read ProPakistani articles on both windows, how great is that? The possibilities are endless.
Some apps that were not optimized for multi-windows displayed the message: App may not work with split-screen. But they still worked fine for us and were perfectly usable.
While in the multi-window, if you press the home button the top window will get minimized whereas the the bottom windows will get closed. You will see that the recent apps button will also be split in two and you can tap on it to go back to multi-window. To close multi-window, resize either the top or bottom window to full screen and it will exit the split-screen mode.
Multi-window will be especially useful to tablet users such as the Nexus 9 or the Pixel C but it feels a little cramped on a device that has a screen of 5-inch device or smaller. Usability will improve further as more refinements are made to the multi-window and more apps support it.
2. Quick Settings
The quick settings panel has also been upgraded. Swipe down once into your notification panel and you no longer get just your notifications. Now you get notifications and a few toggles at the top.
The default options you get are WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Mobile Data and flight mode. Tap on the arrow on the extreme right hand side or swipe down once more to get into quick settings, and you’ll be greeted with a redesigned 3×3 settings toggle.
The buttons act differently depending on whether you are in the notification panel or the quick settings. In the notification panel, the the buttons act as toggles for on and off. Whereas in the quick settings, tapping on one of them will expand them allowing you to see more information.
Perhaps one of the most important change in the quick settings panel is the new “Edit” button. Yup, Nougat now allows you to rearrange the quick settings tiles, a feature that has been available on custom ROMs for a while now. You can drag to rearrange tiles or drag new icons to the quick settings panel or remove them.
3. Notifications Redesign, Direct Reply & More
The notifications panel has been completely redesigned and gotten a huge overhaul. The first thing you will notice that is different from Marshmallow is the design. The notifications are no longer cards but now they of full-width on the screen and stacked on top of each other instead of appearing separately as cards.
Have you ever posted something on Facebook, only to have your notification tray fill up with alerts of like and comments? Yea, me neither, but for those of you who do face that problem, Android has solved it by introducing bundled notifications. Now, notifications are stacked in a single notification windows rather than separate ones for each of them.
You can then expand the notifications window to view each of the notification separately. No need to swipe down the notification window either, and then accidentally open the WhatsApp conversation that you were trying to avoid. All you have to do is tap the little arrow on the first line of the notifications where the app name is displayed.
Nougat also enables users to reply to an SMS, WhatsApp message or email etc right from the notifications panel instead of opening the app. The feature was also available in a recent update from WhatsApp but before the update, it opened up a window in the center of the screen. After the implementation of the direct reply, you can just type the message in the notification panel and have it sent.
The notifications settings have also been revamped. You can change the settings for each application right from the notifications panel itself, displaying you three different options to choose from. You can access the settings by either slightly swiping right or left on a notification and pressing the gear icon that appears or by long pressing the notification.
The new notification area and control is certainly my most favorite part of the new version. It’s good to look at, notifications are neatly stacked and I have more control over each and every app. #MakeNotificationsGreatAgain
Changing the settings panel into something different from what we have been seeing for the past few years seemed like a pretty tough job, but Google has done it nevertheless. The new settings screen has got a lot going on for it.
First off, when you open Settings, you’ll notice a new tab at the top. It’s called the “Suggestions” section. What it does is that it gives you some suggestions to do things like set up a work email address, enabling voice recognition or setting up a lock screen etc. If you do not like this new tab (like me), you can just tap on the three little dots next to it and remove each suggestion individually.
There’s also a bright green bar too above the suggestions panel, as shown in the screenshot, which shows you important suggestions such as turning on or off the Mobile Data or WiFi and even letting you know whether Do Not Disturb mode is on. You can also get rid of it by swiping in either direction.
Clearing those two out of the Settings panel makes things a bit more familiar. But still not quite as familiar as you thought it would be. For starters, the settings panel give you a one line summary about a particular option.
For example, the WiFi panel will show you what network you are connected to, Data Usage will tell you how much data you have used, the Storage option will show you the used internal/external storage etc. In Marshmallow and all previous versions, you had to tap on a panel and dive into the settings in order to view the most basic things.
It is certainly better and saves you time. You also have the option to quickly jump between various settings by swiping right from the left edge, which will open a menu similar to the settings panel.
5. Display Size
According to ArsTechnica, the scale of Android’s interface is independent of the resolution and screen size. Manufacturers typically tuned all their phones, regardless of the screen size, which showed roughly the exact same amount of the information.
Previously, this could only be changed through root access but not anymore. In Nougat, the new “Display Size” option will give users the option to choose between three different scales, rather than being stuck with the scale level set by manufacturers.
6. Clear All
Swiping through each of apps can get tiring and for some unknown reason a clear all button wasn’t available on any Android version till date. Manufacturers added them on their UI and it was also available on custom ROMs.
Good news is that the Clear All button is now finally available for Android. It’s still hidden and won’t appear as soon as you tap the recent apps button. You gotta scroll all the way up for it to appear. Tap on it once and it will clear all your recent apps.
The above mentioned features were some of the highlights. Here I will be mentioning some less important features:
- Quicker Multi-tasking – You can now double-tap the recent apps button to quickly switch between your two most recently used apps.
- Screen savers – If you’re worried that Google has removed Daydream from the display settings, don’t fret. It has simply been renamed to Screen Saver and is still in the display settings.
- APK Source – Nougat will now also keep track of whether the app you have installed came from the Google Play Store or the Package Installer.
- Data Saver – With the data saver you are able to to restrict specific apps from using the mobile data in the background. You can enable the data saver in the quick settings.
- Emojis – The latest update adds support for the skin tone modifiers and new emojis
- Cancel button for downloads – A new cancel button is now also available for app downloads from the Play Store. You can cancel the download by expanding the downloading app notification.
- Doze – Doze is now more aggressive on Nougat. It will kick in during the day, even if you’re moving and the screen is off for a particular amount of time.