Android 7.0 Nougat: What’s really new in Google’s mobile OS?

Google Android 7.0 Nougat is now out of beta, but is it a radically new update? We take a deeper look.

Written by Karthekayan Iyer | Updated: August 25, 2016 9:09:31 am
Android Nougat, Google Nexus, Android 7.0 Nougat, Android Nougat rollout, Android 7.0 Nougat update, Android Nougat update, tech news, technology Android 7.0 Nougat is being rolled out in stages to Nexus devices via OTA update

Google has officially started rolling out Android 7.0 Nougat to Nexus devices. This is the first time a new Android release is available even before the launch of new Nexus phones. Android 7.0 Nougat is available to Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Pixel C and Nexus 9 tablet.

Google says the update is being rolled out in phases, and it may take weeks before your Nexus gets that OTA update. Interestingly, Android Nougat has several firsts for a new Google-developed mobile operating system. Most importantly this is the first Android OS to have seen extensive developer preview – five months to be specific.

Android Nougat brings a new shift in the way Google delivers its mobile OS update. Android N Developer Preview was, for the first time, extended to a non-Nexus device in the form of Xperia Z3. Android 7.0 Nougat changelog itself makes one wonder whether it is correct in being called 7.0.

Android 7.0 Nougat is not a radical update by any sense. The biggest features here are the split-screen multitasking, and improved notifications, (which has been Android’s strong point for years now).

Multitasking: Android 7.0 Nougat makes it the first OS to be more useful on tablets. With Android 7.0 Nougat, users can easily run two apps side-by-side. There is also a divider to resize windows. The whole multi-tasking experience is a page from Microsoft’s Windows 10, and it is definitely the best thing Google has ever added to Android.

However, this isn’t the first time we have seen multitasking on Android. Samsung Galaxy devices have had multi-window experience for quite sometime now. Even Chinese OEMs like Vivo have built a similar experience with its custom Android skins. Even Apple added support for split-screen multitasking with iOS 9, which made iPad Pro equivalent to a computer.

Android 7.0 Nougat's biggest feature is the split-screen multitasking with ability to drag and resize windows (Source: Google) Android 7.0 Nougat’s biggest feature is the split-screen multitasking with ability to drag and resize windows (Source: Google)

Is multitasking a really big deal? Certainly, Yes. With smartphones getting large displays and powerful processors, split-screen multitasking will definitely enable users to do more things at once.

Quick Settings and Switch: Google is also introducing a new quick settings feature that allows quick access to bluetooth, WiFi and other features like flashlight. Google is again taking a page from Cyanogen’s quick settings feature but giving it a touch of Android. Also introduced here is the quick switch, which allows users to switch between last used app by double tapping the multitasking button.

Notifications: With Android 7.0 Nougat, Google has showed that it champions the art of delivering notifications. With Nougat, Android gains intelligence to group notifications from same apps and also gives access to quick replies. Quick replies was first introduced with Hangouts and now it is being extended to every possible app. With Android 7.0 Nougat, users can directly reply to notifications without opening the app.

Android Nougat, Google Nexus, Android 7.0 Nougat, Android Nougat rollout, Android 7.0 Nougat update, Android Nougat update, tech news, technology With Android 7.0 Nougat, Google adds support to reply directly from notifications without opening the app (Source: Google)

Others: Android 7.0 Nougat adds native support for Vulkan API, which promises a new immersive engine for faster 3D rendering on the device. The new API promises better graphics experience on both flagship as well as low-end devices. Android Nougat also becomes the first OS to bring native VR support. Android 7.0 Nougat brings support for Daydream-ready phones, which promises better mobile VR experience.

So all that sounds cool about Android 7.0 Nougat, but what about Search?

With Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google introduced Now on Tap, a feature that made searching easier from any screen. With Android 7.0 Nougat, Google has been silent on Now on Tap. Search is the core part of Android, but it seems the innovation has stagnated.

Security: Another key issue with Android has been security and Google is adding options like seamless updates, file-based encryption and direct boot. Google has been offering monthly security updates for Android devices and file-based encryption can better protect files. With Direct Boot, Android runs safer and runs app securely.

But what about Quadrooter or StageFright? The open nature of Android exposes it to multiple security issues and it gets even worse when a component from a specific company gets targeted. Google has little to help, and that worry is likely to stay around for some time more.

Android 7.0 Nougat will please every Android users, thanks to its smoother animation, clean UI, multitasking support.  But how secure is my device and when am I getting the update are questions yet to be answered.


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