Oh me, oh my. Innovation in the mobile industry is an idea that's ridiculously difficult to come by authentically these days. Each new release is a technological breakthrough, and it's all about keeping up now instead of truly optimizing your device. We've seen gratuitous watches hit the market, tablets that are basically becoming phones, and even small hints at connections with your car and your phone that go so far past simple Bluetooth. Android 7.0. also known as Android Nougat, however, seems to head back to basics and tap into the "personalization" market, which is an oil well of money for those who know how to play it. With a built-in optimized display size, a plethora of customizable settings that aren't deeply hidden within the device and a new graphics API to make mobile gaming a better experience for all, it appears that is going back to humble roots without being too explosive.
One of the more subtle additions is an adjustable screen size. This comes in handy while reading text, specifically on larger devices. The larger devices in the Android family don't really adjust the text to fit the screen, the text is just made bigger. With this setting, the user can adjust the amount of information to be on screen at once. Setting it to "small" zooms the entire page out and lets you absorb it all in one go. "Big" will obviously be optimal for those who need prescription eyeglasses to look at a phone. Words and pictures will be clear and precise, but it will heavily limit the amount of information you have on your screen at any given moment. This sort of thing has been pretty popular with Android users in the past, but it involved rooting the device and editing a value in the build.prop file. Now that it's built into the settings, there's no need for rooting or doing anything particularly complicated to achieve this.
Another nifty addition to this new OS is an overhaul of the notification bar and Quick Settings interfaces. The notification bar and Quick Settings have always been highly customizable but on Nougat, there's a handy little "edit" button right in the notifications bar that lets any old Average Joe track it down and customize it to their discretion. While this is a pretty neat addition, those who a little limited by their options have no reason to complain anymore. There's a Quick Settings Tile API, which allows total customization via certain applications and anything else the user wishes to implement into their Quick Settings. Imaging wanting to know the showtimes for a movie you're going to see tomorrow, and instead of going through the arduous (albeit simple) task of finding one, you can put that function right into your notifications bar. Slide down and find a showtime, and that's it. It's kind of like the "IF" application, but with a much more coherent user interface and without the whole "application linking" nonsense that functions properly only on occasion.
A new feature that will turn off a few users, however, is the new Unicode 9 support, or in layman's terms, MORE FREAKING EMOJIS! This addition brings in incredibly necessary emojis, like "spoon." I'll be the first to say I had a hole in my life without that spoon emoji, but now that it's here, I feel whole again. The skin tones of the emojis can now be changed into five different shades, giving your grandmother an entirely different excuse to be inadvertently racist. There are over 1,500 emojis available on the Nougat OS, and approximately 72 new ones headed our way. The emojis apparently look a lot more people, too, which is a good thing, I guess. Now you can make stolen Facebook posts with that crying face emoji in even slicker fashion!
Okay, I've been pretty sarcastic with some of these features, but there is some really cool stuff present here. One of the main attractions is re-sizable apps and multi-window support. It's a ridiculously late addition, I know, but now you can use more than one application at once on an Android device. The screen will be split in half once split-screen mode is enabled, and the current app (more most recently used one) will be sent to the top, while another application can be added to the bottom. While it is a pretty late addition, now you can watch two television shows at once, watch a movie while downloading your work schedule, or text both of your girlfriends at once!
You remember Doze from 6.0? Yeah, it wasn't really that useful, was it? Probably when you forgot to bring your charger to your friend's house, but not really when you were just going about your day. On Nougat, Doze has been given a bit of an upgrade. It's not as rigorous now and when the screen is powered off, data and power-heavy applications and notifications will be moved to a maintenance window and will beg for your attention later. This way, Doze will be perpetually saving battery and precious data instead of just overnight when you're probably sleeping instead of doing... well, anything on your phone. Some functions will still work and your device will still search for Wi-Fi, so important notifications and wake locks won't go unnoticed just because Doze is desperately trying to put your phone to sleep.
Encryption on Android devices has always been pretty passable. If your phone ran well and you knew your unlock pattern or password as a sort of second nature, you had no problems with it. There was some room for improvement, however, and it appears as if Nougat is capitalizing on that a little more. There's the usual full-disk encryption and individual file encryption, and with "Direct Boot" you'll be able to turn your device on before needing to put in a password to decrypt all of your important data. Also taking a page from restricted permissions of third-party and root apps of older devices and operating systems, applications are sandboxed and need your explicit permission before requesting any sensitive information, like photos or your identity. I'm sure there will be a way to customize this, as your device asking you if it's okay every time you want to upload a photo to Instagram will probably become tedious before long. That, or it will act as a buffer and make you decide whether or not that picture of you drunkenly straddling a ping pong table is something you want burned into the eternity of the internet.
It's actually pretty refreshing to see Nougat not be an excessive and self-indulgent addition to the incredibly saturated mobile market. There are some pretty explosive additions like tapping into the VR market, which seems pretty unnecessary for cellular devices, but all-in-all this feels like a worthy addition to the line of OS updates. It appears as if some of the useful root toggles of older devices have finally manifest themselves in the initial device, so there's no need to possibly brick your phone in order to just edit build.prop a little (though if you brick your device while rooting it's probably time to get a Windows phone, bud). It's been anticipated for a while now, with the Developer Program starting back in March, and it feels like it's going to be well worth the wait.
Introducing Android Nougat: The Most Personal Android Experience Yet
After about five months of buildup, Android Nougat is rolling out to devices today with some pretty handy additions. With split-screen abilities,...
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