After months of previews, Google has officially unwrapped Android 7.0 (Nougat). Per usual, Google’s Nexus lineup will receive the update immediately. Other devices may not see this update for months or another year. Until then, here’s what to expect in Android Nougat.
SPLIT-SCREEN & QUICK SWITCH
Android Nougat brings split-screen mode to tablets and phones, displaying Android apps and Chrome tabs side-by-side.
To activate split-screen, hold the Overview (square) button. Select another app from the recent apps list or hit the home button to access to all of your apps. Chrome tabs require an extra step: select the “move to other window” menu option in Chrome. Holding the Overview button again closes a “window”.
Split-screen might sound nice, but it’s severely limited compared to competitors. Samsung’s multi-window can “group” apps to be opened together, drag-and-drop media between apps, and make pop-up windows out of apps. Split-screen in Nougat does none of this.
Quick Switch lets you quickly switch between your last used app by double tapping the Overview view. At the top of the recent apps lists is a new “clear all” button. No more swiping apps out one by one.
QUICK SETTINGS, QUICK REPLY & NOTIFICATIONS
Nougat comes with a number of enhancements to the notification shade and notifications. Five (5) customizable quick settings sit just above notifications. They provide one-tap access to toggle settings like airplane mode, data, bluetooth and GPS. Swiping down on the toggles show more along with an option to edit their order.
You can now respond to messages directly from notifications (finally)! App notifications are now grouped together, reducing clutter. Swiping down on a group lets you interact with each notification individually. Lastly, you can tap and hold a notification to silence or block it on the fly.
SETTINGS & PERSONALIZATION
The Settings app has a new navigation menu accessible from anywhere in the app by swiping from the left side of the screen. Each Setting now shows additional information about its stats or status on the main page.
The new data saver feature limits background internet access to apps to reduce data usage. The Google Now launcher lets you set separate wallpapers for your home screen and lock screen. Additionally, you can now adjust your device’s screen density.
The file manager introduced in Marshmallow can now copy, move, rename and create files and folders. You no longer have to keep your phone immobile to activate Doze and save battery life. Nougat brings back Trusted Face for Smart Lock to unlock your phone using facial recognition. You can pin apps to the top of the Share menu by long pressing on their app icon. Last but not least, there are 72 new emoji and support for the use of two or more languages at the same time.
Nougat isn’t a huge update, a visual overhaul, nor a game changer. More than anything, Nougat feels like an optimization of last year’s Marshmallow update.
Features like Quick Switch, Quick Reply and Quick Settings are long overdue time savers. Despite its limitations, split-screen mode is useful for immediately reading links when catching up on RSS feeds or Twitter. I love seeing certain Settings stats at a glance. And I think a lot of people will appreciate the new Data Saver.
Nougat also comes with Vulkan API support for better 3D graphic performance, VR Mode support and a host of security improvements.
These features give immediate results and fit right in with the way I already use Android. Unfortunately, only time will tell when this update will hit devices beyond Google’s Nexus lineup.