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article imageGoogle launches Android 7.0 Nougat with multi-window, VR and more

By James Walker     Aug 23, 2016 in Technology
Google has officially launched Android 7.0 Nougat, the latest version of its mobile platform. The new release is available now on recent Nexus devices, although 2013's Nexus 5 is excluded. The update will roll out to more phones in the coming months.
Android Nougat has come a long way since Google first unveiled it back in March. The company claims there are over 250 major features in Nougat, including virtual reality, an updated interface, more powerful notifications and greater security.
In a blog post, it emphasised some of the most notable additions. For the first time, Android now supports split-screen multitasking, allowing you to run two apps side-by-side on your phone or tablet. You can enter this mode from the recent apps menu. Once you've got multi-window enabled, you can resize the amount of space given to each app by dragging the divider between the two.
Android 7.0 Nougat multi-window
Android 7.0 Nougat multi-window
Google
Notifications have been enhanced for the third year running. It's now possible to reply directly to notifications, letting you respond to a text message straight from the notification. This makes it easier to keep watching a video or playing a game while replying to a message as you don't need to leave the app.
The Quick Settings panel in the notification tray has also received attention. You can now customise your tile layout and move tiles around in the tray. You can put your most used tiles at the top, adding and removing quick settings as you see fit. Combined with the notification and multitasking improvements, Google says it'll make you more productive on your phone.
Under the hood, Android has been overhauled to be less battery intensive, more secure and capable of supporting advanced new technologies. It includes the Vulkan 3D rendering API, giving next-generation games more stable performance and better graphics.
Android 7.0 Nougat Quick Settings
Android 7.0 Nougat Quick Settings
Google
Google has also built a virtual reality platform into the core of Android. Although not yet available on any current phone, Daydream allows you to use virtual reality headsets and controllers with any supporting handset, delivering immersive mobile VR experiences.
None of these features would be useful if they immediately drained your phone's battery. To ensure this isn't the case, Google has updated Doze, the battery-saving feature introduced with last year's Marshmallow, to save even more power. It now automatically enters a power-saving state whenever the display is turned off, eking out every last percentage of your battery to maximise runtime.
Finally, the security around Android has been enhanced with more advanced encryption, a safer startup procedure and additional protections around the kernel. As part of this work, Google has overhauled how Android installs updates. These are now done seamlessly in the background, meaning you never have to wait for an update to install and get your apps ready.
Android 7.0 Nougat emoji
Android 7.0 Nougat emoji
Google
Android 7.0 has already begun to roll-out to the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C and Android One devices. Notably absent from the list are 2013's Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, extraordinarily popular Nexus devices that are no longer supported by Google.
The first phone to launch with Android Nougat preinstalled will be the upcoming LG V20. Shortly afterwards, Google is expected to introduce its 2016 range of Nexus hardware, possibly including a unique launcher interface designed to emphasise Android Nougat features. Beyond that, new phones from a myriad of manufacturers will arrive with Android Nougat in the next few months.
For people who don't own a Nexus and aren't intending to buy a new phone, it may be a long wait to get Nougat. The majority of Android phones won't ever see the update, due to the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem. As Google unveiled Android 7.0 yesterday, almost 50% of all Android users were still running a version older than 5.0 Lollipop. Just 15.2% of devices are running 6.0 Marshmallow, the only version that has a chance of getting a direct upgrade to Nougat.
Android 7.0 Nougat
Android 7.0 Nougat
Google
Nougat may introduce a lot of positive changes to the Android ecosystem but it's not going to be the release to solve Google's structural problems. It's likely to be the same story over the next few months as Marshmallow faced a year ago. Market share will drag along at a few percentage points each month, as manufacturers update a handful of year-old devices each to the new OS. No brand has yet confirmed its Nougat upgrade plans but you can be confident that few low-end and mid-range devices will ever see the new release.
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