The new OS is loaded with new features and refinements, each one improving upon the overall Android experience. Some changes, such as bundled notifications, are quite obvious. Then there are the less visible changes, such as a new multitasking shortcut. Follow along as we take a look at what’s new in Google’s latest mobile OS.
You can now double-tap the recent apps button to quickly switch between your two most recently used apps. For example, say you’re in Gmail but need to look something up in Chrome to include in an email. You can open Chrome, find and copy a link, then double-tap the recent apps button and your device will switch back to Gmail.
Use two apps at same time
Samsung users have long had access to using apps in a split-screen mode. With Nougat, Google is officially adding support for multi-window support to all Android devices running Android 7.0. To activate multi-window mode, long-press on the recent apps button. Whichever app you’re currently using will go to the top of the screen (on a phone, or to the left on a tablet), with a list of recent apps shown along the bottom. Select the second app you want to use from the list. Drag the divider to resize the app windows, or to maximize either of the active apps.
View two Chrome tabs
It took Apple an entire year to introduce split-screen tab viewing in Safari for iPad users, but Google did it at the same time it introduced multi-window to Android. When using Chrome in multi-window mode, tap on the Menu button and select they super handy option of “Move to other window.” It’s fully acceptable to point and laugh at iOS users if you feel the need.
Drag and drop text, images when in multi-window mode
When using two apps at the same time, you can drag-and-drop text between the two windows. Highlight the text, then long-press on it until the text begins to float. Drag it to a text field in another window, and let go. The same goes for sharing images between two apps, assuming they’ve been updated for the latest of Google’s wares. Magical, right?
Finally, the lock screen gets a wallpaper of its own
It only took way too many years, but the day has finally come: You can now set a wallpaper specific to your home screen, and a different one for your lock screen. The process to accomplish the once unthinkable feat hasn’t changed much—after selecting an image to set as a wallpaper, you’re shown a new prompt to select where the image will live.
Google added a Clear All button to the recent apps list, only it’s a bit hidden. Instead of placing it at the bottom of your screen when viewing your recent apps, you need to scroll to the top of the list where you’ll find the handy Clear All text. Tap on it, and all apps are closed out. When you’ve closed all your recent apps, a new icon is displayed letting you know there are no recent items.
Where did that APK come from?
Android Nougat will now keep track of where an app was installed from. Open Settings then Apps and tap on any listed application. Scroll to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see the source of the app’s installation. For example, if it was installed from the Play Store it will say as much. If it’s something you side loaded, it will state something along the lines of “Installed from Package Installer.”
New installer animation
Speaking of installing applications outside of the Play Store, you’ll find a fancy new installer animation when sideloading an APK. It’s a subtle change that won’t have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day use, but it’s not a bad looking change either. Who doesn’t like seeing the Android bot whenever possible
Have you ever posted something on Facebook, only to have your notification tray blown up with alerts of likes and comments? Me neither, but for those who have you’re going to love bundled notifications. Once an app updates for Android Nougat, it can opt to have all of its notifications bundled into one alert. Slide down on the respective notification to reveal the rest of your alerts for that particular app.
Reply with speed
You can now reply to messages from apps like Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, or Messenger directly from the notification. Of course, this means you can hold a conversation without having to bounce between a messaging app and another app. It’s important to note, this isn’t limited to messaging apps. Twitter apps, for example, could add the ability to reply to mentions.
Notification importance setting
You can now set the importance level of an app’s notifications to fit your specific use of that app, including allowing an app to ignore your DND settings. With a long-press on a notification, you can view the current importance level. Tap on More Settings where you can turn off the default automatic setting, and adjust its interruption level. As you move the slider, a brief explanation will detail each alert type.
Tired of paying for data overages? When using an Android Nougat device, you can enable Data Saver to restrict specific apps from using data in the background. Under the Data Usage menu, open Data Saver and turn it on. You can then go through a list of apps installed on your device, and enable background data for each one you want. Otherwise, apps will only gain access to a cellular data connection when you’re actively using it.
Quicker quick settings
When swiping from the top of the screen with one finger, you will see a row of quick setting shortcuts just above any pending notifications. Tap on an icon to enable or disable features such as Wi-Fi, open Battery settings, or turn on the Flashlight. It displays the first 5 items in your quick settings, so if you reorder those, you'll change what appears here.
Tiles are so in right now
You can now add multiple Quick Setting options to your device by viewing your Quick Settings panel and tapping Edit. You can still tap on tiles to edit a setting or interact with it. Alternatively, you can still long-press on a tile to disable or enable a feature if applicable. Third-party developers now create apps that live only within a Quick Settings tile.
Easier Settings app navigation
When navigating through the Settings app, now you can quickly hop between various sections using the hamburger menu on the left side of your screen (or by dragging in from the left edge). Settings are broken down into the same categories as the main list, but using the slide-out menu eliminates the need to tap the back button, scroll, then select another setting category.
When you open the Settings app your device will offer some recommendations for various settings and features you should set up. For example, upon initial setup Settings recommended I set up Screen lock, add en email account, set up “OK Google” commands, and change the wallpaper. Tapping on a suggestion will open the proper settings pane or app. Alternatively, you can tap on the overflow menu to hide an item from the list.
Android Nougat includes the latest and greatest Emoji approved by the powers that be, including bacon! Beyond the latest and greatest emoji baked right in to Android, you’ll also notice Google has reworked most of the emoji included on its mobile devices. Smiley faces now have a more human look and feel.
Ever start to update or download apps from the Play Store, only to remember you’re on a cellular connection or your battery is about to die? You can now cancel downloads directly from the download notification, instead of having to tap through each item in the Play Store. Slide down the notification, tap cancel and your data bucket is safe.
Keyboard shortcut helper
Using a physical keyboard with a tablet like the Pixel C adds a level of convenience and mobile computing appeal to the tablet. However, learning and remembering each apps’ keyboard shortcuts can be a chore. With Nougat, you can press Search + / to view a list of shortcuts for the app you’re currently using.
Easy on the eyes
Night Light mode on Android Nougat turns your display an amber color.
The jury is still out regarding whether or not the feature helps you fall asleep easier, but one thing is certain, it does cause less eye strain in dimly lit environments.
Open Settings > Display > Night Light to enable the feature.
Depending on customizations made by the manufacturer of your phone, you should have options ranging from manually enabling it to setting Night Light automatically turn on from sunset to sunrise using your location. Another name used by device makers is Night Mode.