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Google rolls out Android Nougat on Nexus devices; lowdown of features

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After unveiling a beta version and crowdsourcing a version name for Android N in May, Google today announced that it will begin rolling out its latest version of Android 7.0 Nougat limited to Nexus devices including Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, LGV20 and Android One devices via over the air updates. Apart from this, any device signed up for the Android Beta program will receive Android Nougat update over-the-air.

The company had earlier put out a developer version for testing in March, prior to the beta release in May. Google says this allowed developers to bring their apps to the new platform much earlier before a stable release. Google boasts “over 250 major features” on the new Android Nougat; here is a lowdown of the most important ones, as pointed out by the company:

More personalization

-An expanded set of emojis built straight into the new Android version with over 1,500 different emojis.
-The Quick Settings controls provides a better way for user to access controls like Bluetooth settings, WiFi, flashlight, etc. while Nougat will allow users to “actually control what tiles go where, and move ‘em around to fit your needs.”
– Apps can customize their content based on user’s locale settings. For eg:  If a user can read and write multiple languages, then search engines can show results in each of those languages.

Productivity and multitasking

-The Multi-window feature allows users to run apps side-by-side. Users can also resize these windows by dragging them on the screen manually.
-Directly reply feature will let users attend to a notification without having to launch the app.
-While multi-tasking, users can utilize the ‘Quick Switch’ feature to easily navigate between most used or recently used apps by double tapping the ‘Overview button’.

Battery and Performance

-Google mentioned that Nougat recognizes when a device is not in active use and immediately switches it into a low-power mode.  For eg: A device will switch into a lower power usage when it’s “getting jostled around in your pocket or bag while on the move.”
-Android Nougat has a built-in graphics rendering engine named Vulkan, which is a  graphics API that allows developers to directly control/utilize a phone’s GPU or processor for better 3D graphics quality.
– Google’s newly announced VR platform  ‘Daydream’ is directly integrated into Nougat for a better Virtual Reality (VR) experience for apps and allows direct CPU and GPU access.

Security and boot features

-The ‘file-based encryption’ feature can isolate a particular files and secure them for every individual user on a device.
-Direct Boot will allow devices to startup faster claims Google, and apps will run securely “even before you unlock your device when your device reboots.”
-Nougat will install all software updates in the background and will automatically optimize all installed apps for the new version. This means you need not reboot the device more than once, every time an update is installed.  For current Nexus users, software updates will be installed “much faster” claims Google, while reducing device boot time after an install.

Android’s slow adoption rates

Note that the earlier version of Android—Marshmallow—had a lower adoption rate when compared to earlier releases. As of August 2016, Android Marshmallow was installed on just 15.2% of the active Android devices, as per Google estimates, since launch in October 2015. Currently, Android KitKat released in October 2013, seems to be installed in majority (29.2%) of active devices. While, KitKat’s successor, Lollipop is present in just 14.1% of active Android devices. Comparatively, Apple’s iOS 9 was reportedly installed into 50% of all active devices, within just five days of launch. This was apparently Apple’s fastest adoption rate.

google-android-adoption-rate-aug-16

Although it’s clear that Android is winning big time when compared to other mobile Operating Systems, recent updates including Marshmallow was riddled with multiple bugs ranging from installation and performance problems, WiFi connectivity issues, charging and battery drain, etc. Probably the biggest roadblock to a faster adoption is OEM support, and according to an ArsTechnica report, Google really isn’t providing any financial “incentives to OEMs” for updating to latest Android, and Google has even resorted to shaming OEMs by putting out lists of those who are slow to adopt to latest versions, which only aggravates the situation.

Image source: Flickr user Family O’Abé under CC BY 2.0

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