Update: The Android N release date is likely to be several months from now, but the first several features of the mobile operating system update are here today. Here’s what we know.
All of the algorithmic geniuses at Google are busy working on Android 7 right now, and they’re temporarily calling it “Android N” and showing off a handful of new features for 2016.
The shocker is that the company isn’t announcing Android N at its Google IO 2016 conference in May. The reason behind this is to give developers more time to tinker with the update, according to Google.
That’s fantastic news for anyone who is brave enough to update their phone, tablet or streaming box with the unfinished build. We did just that to tell the rest of you what’s inside.
True multitasking support is finally arriving, and it’s deservedly the highlight of with Android N. You’re going to be able to open up two apps at once on your Nexus phone or tablet.
It’s a popular feature Samsung and LG phones have incorporated into their Android skins years ago, so it’s nice (and about time) Google is including the same functionality in its own software.
Working in two apps at once and being able to resize the windows sounds on-the-fly is coupled with the ability to view videos in a picture-in-picture mode. YouTube isn’t a waste of time if you’re working, right?
Multi-window support could increase enterprise interest in Android tablets and the Pixel C. It’s a bet that Apple recently made when it launched a similar split-screen and picture-in-picture features for iOS 9.
What isn’t clear about Android 7.0 is what it’s actually going to do for the world’s most used mobile operating system. It might not even be version 7.0 of the software – let’s not forget Google’s dabble with the number four with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.1/2/3 Jelly Bean and 4.4 KitKat.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next version of Google’s mobile OS, Android 7.
- When is it out? Likely reveal in May, but won’t launch until October*
- What will it cost? Free
*when – and if – you get it depends on what phone/tablet you own though
Android 7 release date
There’s no official word on when Android N will be launching, so all we have is Google’s previous software activities.
Google officially announced Android Marshmallow at Google IO 2015 at the end of May last year – and going by the search giant’s track record the sensible money is on Android 7.0 showing up at Google IO 2016. That takes place May 18-20 2016.
Thing is, there tends to be several months inbetween the announcement and the new version of Android actually rolling out. That means it’s unlikely to arrive on devices before October – and even then it’ll probably only be the Nexus branded phones and tablets which get it.
For most, you’ll have to wait until your manufacturer and/or carrier sorts out their own version of the update and pushes it out – and that can take months.
What phones will get Android 7?
If you’ve got a recent flagship phone, you should be in luck. Most manufacturers try and push the software to phones and tablets that are less than two years old, but it may be quite a wait.
Each manufacturer can take time to tweak the updates. Take Android Marshmallow for example, some phones still don’t have the update even though it’s been out for nearly three whole months now.
If you want the latest software, it’s best to get a Nexus device as the newest version of Android will always be pushed to that first.
Android 7 news and rumors
Little is known about the Android N update so far. The only feature we know to be confirmed is split-screen multitasking support for tablets.
During a Reddit AMA on the Pixel C, Glen Murphy, director of Android and Chrome UX, confirmed that split-screen multitasking support is incoming. “We’re working hard on a range of enhancements for Android in this form factor,” he said.
Consumer hardware director at Google, Andrew Bowers, added: “We’re working on lots of things right now for N that, of course, we wish we had, you know, yesterday. But we’d spoil the surprise of N if we shared all of them. Split screen is in the works!”
Android Police also saw an early version of the Android N software that showed off a few changes including new notifications that take up the whole of the screen and come with three lines of text rather than just two.
There’s also a new Quick Settings line on the menu, which gives you easier access to the features such as Airplane Mode, battery saving mode and the torch on the back of your phone. Plus it looks like in Android 7 you’ll be able to create two pages of Quick Settings, so you can put lesser-used options onto a separate page.
Things may change before the actual release though, and the screenshots above are made by Android Police as they didn’t have access to official screenshots.
Apart from that, little is known about the Android 7 update. We’re deep trying to find out new details and we’ll share here when we know something new.