Android N brings power-saving and performance improvements

A wild Android release appears! Out of nowhere, Google unleashed the Android N Developer Preview on the world. The new iteration of Google's operating system is more evolution than revolution when compared to Android Marshmallow, but it still comes with a few interesting features.

Apps can now configure themselves so they can be launched in a window. Android offers free-form (floating windows), split-screen and picture-in-picture modes. This feature is new to stock Android, but Samsung has already been doing it for a while. Official support will certainly improve apps' support for windowed mode, though.

In my opinion, Android's notifications system is the best around already, and it's getting better still. Notifications can now be shown as expandable groups, and apps can register specific input behaviors. For example, users can reply to a message or take an action directly from the notification shade. Users with poor eyesight should be happy to know that Android N now has a Screen Zoom feature which makes the OS render everything at an adjustable size, too.

The main focus of this release, however, are power and performance improvements. Marshmallow's Doze battery saving mojo has been improved. Doze now keeps the phone in sleep mode when the screen is off, only doing some actual work periodically. Apps can now set more specific priorities for whatever work they need to do while the screen is off, like handling an incoming notification.

The Project Svelte app thinning effort also resulted in some changes in Android N. There are now tighter controls in place about what kind of work applications can do while running in the background. The Data Saver feature also gives apps a shorter leash when it comes to mobile data usage. The system "blocks background data usage and signals apps to use less data in the foreground wherever possible."

Android N's development process is a little different from the usual. Google is now releasing a "work in progress" build, so that it has more time to receive and act on developers' feedback. According to the company, this also allows it to send the final build (expected around summer) to manufacturers a little earlier.

The new Android Beta program lets developers can install the preview version of Android N on their Nexus devices and easily receive OTA updates. Developers also get a $150 discount on the purchase of a Pixel C convertible—just enter your e-mail here and get a coupon.

Comments closed
    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 7 years ago

    Well, time to root the phone to force install the new OS. The warranty is expired anyways…

    • sreams
    • 7 years ago

    Not necessarily a fair comparison. Android updates are free, and so can be more closely compared to service packs. When a new service pack is introduced for Windows, the older revisions of the same OS no longer get security updates, AFAIK. With the Windows 10.1 release, does Windows 10 still get security updates if you don’t update to 10.1?

    The real problem with Android is the device manufacturers not keeping up with the updates provided by Google for free.

    • wingless
    • 7 years ago

    Watch Samsung take a year to release it for the Galaxy S7 series after it comes out…

    • morphine
    • 7 years ago

    At the time, I joked that Apple would release iOS 9 before I got Android 5 on my (now stashed away) Moto G.

    I shouldn’t have joked, because that pretty much happened. I counted 9 months and change since the release of Lollipop and me installing it on the phone.

    And then ditching the phone because apparently Motorola did some stupid tuning to the RAM limits which made the phone slow and prone to reloading apps and browser tabs all the time. That was the last drop. I eventually got a used iPhone 5S and just stuck with Apple again, much against an earlier promise I’d made to myself.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    For about 6 months it seemed like it was going to happen. The Moto X got KitKat within a month of release. But then they basically fell to the end of the line.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    2013 Moto G is staying on 5.1 according to Motorola’s page on the topic:

    [url<]https://motorola-global-portal.custhelp.com/app/software-upgrade-news/g_id/1949[/url<] (scroll to the bottom and pick "other carrier/retail", assuming you own an unlocked version, and then Moto G XT1032/XT1034 is towards the bottom of the lists)

    • faramir
    • 7 years ago

    “Sometimes, I wonder what would’ve happened if MS pulled something similar in terms of failing to support their products for more than 2 years. (I think there was a smartphone model that was abandoned by the OEM less than a year after it launched).”

    They would call the product Windows 7.x.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 7 years ago

    There are a fair amount of people that replace their phones every 1-3 years, especially with those contracts that give you free upgrades every 2 years or something like that.

    • Laykun
    • 7 years ago

    It’s more of a sinewave tbh. Gingerbread was great, Honey Comb was crap, Ice Cream Sandwhich was Ok, jelly bean was great, KitKat was fine, Android Lollipop was crappy, Android MarshMallow is excellent, and it looks like this one is going to be even better.

    • kuttan
    • 7 years ago

    Seems true. The good old Gingerbread 2.3 was blazing fast even with crappy SOCs of that time. What could be the experience if we use current day powerful SOCs with android Gingerbread 2.3 OS !!

    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    Same story with iOS.

    Every update adds optimizations, but the extra features push RAM usage closer to edge of what my phone can handle.

    • Duct Tape Dude
    • 7 years ago

    Every new Android letter has “performance improvements” built in, but they seem to run slower and slower, like Windows days of yore.

    • thedosbox
    • 7 years ago

    That rumor/speculation started because google’s marketing team created a mock-up video that was missing the app drawer. Google have confirmed the video has no basis in reality:

    [url<]http://www.droid-life.com/2016/02/27/android-n-no-app-drawer/[/url<]

    • dmjifn
    • 7 years ago

    In the software development world, they have done this. Any particular event attracts much angry grousing for a while and not a lot of real backlash.

    • dmjifn
    • 7 years ago

    Ha. Ahead of LTE, RAM, microSD, screen size, battery life, and about everything else – the ability to stay on current Android is probably the top phone feature. Nexus FTW!

    • dmjifn
    • 7 years ago

    Leaving KitKat is when I went from love to rage over Android. Since Marshmallow, things have gotten better but I still ignore that POS Google Photos – I have no idea WTF it’s doing with my pics.

    • morphine
    • 7 years ago

    Ha ha, Motorola software updates… *pfft*

    That was a good one.

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 7 years ago

    They could have gotten away with it if they had a free tier and a pay tier. Kind of like Fedora and RHEL. Fedora is free, but people only get 12 months of support. RHEL cost dollars, but it’s supported for years.

    The other option was to have a low cost tier that was updated frequently, and a higher priced long term support tier. A lot of the problem with switching Windows versions is the price. Investing $75 in an OS is a little different then investing $249. People expect a little bit more when they pay a couple hundred dollars for something.

    • tsk
    • 7 years ago

    Is the app drawer still intact?!

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<] Google is now releasing a "work in progress" build[/quote<] Finally. People have only asking for this since... forever, I think. This is good. Now they just need to do all of their code development out in the open and make it a real Open Source project.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 7 years ago

    Sometimes, I wonder what would’ve happened if MS pulled something similar in terms of failing to support their products for more than 2 years. (I think there was a smartphone model that was abandoned by the OEM less than a year after it launched).

    “Hey guys, since we’re launching Windows 8.1, there won’t be anymore security patches for Windows 7.”

    “Hey guys, here’s Windows 10! Don’t mind the odd bugs. Also, we are yanking all security support for Windows 8 and 8.1”.

    • soccergenius
    • 7 years ago

    Lolipop only officially passed KitKat this month, and more people are still using Gingerbread than Marshmallow. It’s a hot mess.

    [url<]http://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html#Platform[/url<]

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 7 years ago

    I’m sure my 2013 Moto G will get Android M sometime after Android N launches, if ever…

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