Some Features of Android 7.0, from TechRadar with Love
Android Nougat Beta is now available from android.com/beta for newer Nexus devices from the last year and a half, which first and foremost means Google's star players, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.
The giant Nexus 6 also gets some beta action, but the weaker Nexus 5 has been left out. The Android Nougat beta also works with Google Pixel C and its recently discontinued tablet brother Nexus 9 as well as the Nexus Player.
In a shocking twist, there's one random outlier in the Android Nougat compatibility matrix: Sony Xperia Z3. It can tap into the current Developer Preview 4 as a way to test speed and apps on Sony's popular phone.
Shocker: Even Sony Xperia Z3 is included in the betaNon-Nexus phones aren't typically able to be a part of the beta and have to wait weeks if not months for the update after the finished version makes its debut on new Nexus phones.
Android Nougat VR
We've tested out a bunch of existing Android Nougat features below, but there's one exciting new tools that isn't part of the developer beta: Google Daydream.
A buried menu for VR helper services in Android N Developer Preview 4, and an equally buried release note for "Android VR" in Unreal Engine 4.12 beta hints at a big push for a Google Cardboard successor - and Google confirmed its VR intentions during IO.
The Play Store, StreetView, Photos, YouTube and Play Movies will all support VR, allowing you to jump into games, locations and videos - all via Google's Daydream VR platform. Daydream is due to be released in the fall, so it's unlikely to be included in the initial Android N launch.
Expect Google Daydream to be part of a future maintenance update for Android Nougat, though you can get phones like ZTE Axon 7 (the first Google Daydream phone) right now.
5 things I already like about Android Nougat Developer Preview
True multitasking support is finally arriving as expected, and Split Screen is deservedly the highlight of Android Nougat on phones and tablets. 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. It's easy to launch too - just long press on the recent (multi-tasking) button in the nav bar.
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 feature for iOS 9.
Meanwhile Android TV gets picture-in-picture mode, allowing you to continue watching your show in a smaller screen while performing another task.
Direct Reply Notifications
You won't have to navigate away from your current window (or, now, windows) just to answer an incoming message. You can just reply within the notification that appears at the top of the screen.
It worked well enough for the iPhone and iPad when the same idea made its debut with iOS 8 under the name Quick Reply. But Apple's approach to messages worked strictly with its iMessage app.
Google is opening up Direct Reply Notifications beyond Hangouts, and that could mean popular apps like WhatsApp could take advantage of this convenient inline messaging feature.
New quick settings menu
Google is adding a new quick settings menu to the notifications shade you pull down from the top. It's a lot like the one Samsung, LG and every other Android manufacturer seems to use.
Sure, Google stock Android software has had switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode and so forth, but it required pulling the notifications bar down a second time to reveal the quick settings menu.
Now the quick settings toggles are here as soon as you gesture downward once to see notifications. The best news is that all of the buttons small and unobstructive. It leaves room for notifications to flourish.
Longtime Nexus users will also be happy to hear that the quick settings switches can be sorted to your liking, much like they can on other Android phones. You won't need the System UI Tuner to meddle.
For example, I often use MiFi more than Airplane Mode, so Mobile Hotspot icon get promoted to be one of the five icons along the top of the initial quick settings on my Nexus 6P.
That little airplane icon is still there for my takeoff and landings needs, but it got the bump to the second swipe menu. Sorting is finally up to you, which is really what Android is all about.
Google's not done with the way Android N changes notifications. It also announced that notification cards will be grouped together if they're from the same app.
All messages from a specific messaging app, for example, are bundled together in the notification shade. These grouped alerts can then be expanded into individual notifications using a two-finger gesture or tapping the all-new expansion button.
This is basically the opposite of what Apple did in the jump from iOS 8 to iOS 9, switching from grouping them by app to lining them up chronologically. We'll see which method works best this autumn.
There's more control over your notifications in Android Nougat too, as now you can long press on a notification to either silence future notifications, or turn them off completely.
Android Nougat multi-tasking
There are two handy new features in multi-tasking on Android Nougat. First up is a Clear All button at the top of the multi-tasking menu - a feature Google says has been one of the most asked for. This allows you to close all applications running in the background with a single tap.
We've seen manufacturers add a clear all button in their Android interfaces, but the stock version has been crying out for the same function. Finally, we're getting it.
Secondly, Google's added Quick Switch to Android Nougat. This lets you jump back to the previous application with a double tap of the recent (multi-tasking) button in the navigation bar.
Doze Mode 2.0
One of the (literal) sleeper hits of Android Marshmallow has been Doze Mode, Google's crafty way of saving battery life whenever your device is stationary. It's amounts to a deep standby mode.
Android Nougat is going to step up the company's energy-saving software techniques by expanding Doze Mode so that it thoroughly limits background tasks whenever the screen is turned off.
That's ideal for throwing a phone in your pocket or your tablet in a backpack, and then retrieving it the next day or next week without having to recharge it right away. Your "I can't even" face when you pick up your dead Nexus phone the next morning will be a thing of the past.
Android Nougat performance
Google says Android Nougat will provide its biggest leap forward in graphics with the introduction of Vulkan, giving game developers much-needed control of the GPU.
That in turn will result in even better graphics and smoother, faster performance.
If you've downloaded apps from other sources that aren't the Google Play Store, you'll now be able to identify where the app came from by going into your Settings, App Info and then Package Installer.
There's also been a number of Android runtime improvements, including optimizations to the JIT compiler which has seen task speeds increase between 30%-600% compared to the previous version.
Updates are also more seamless, with security updates automatically downloaded and a simple fresh boot up of your device will see you run the latest offering. It's also got rid of that annoying "Android is updating" pop up when you restart after an update.
Nice. And system won't allow me to just post "nice" so I typed all these out. GGWP SuperSU.