Everything a developer should know about Android N

4 min reading
06 May 2016
Everything a developer should know about Android N
Everything a developer should know about Android N

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Android N is the new generation of mobile operating systems (smartphones and tablets) from Google. As usual, the Mountain View company first launched its version for developers, which has been on the market since the beginning of March. With the Android N, Google aims to accelerate device performance by 80%, a very ambitious goal.

As of now, Google is already on the second version of this preview for programmers, with certain improvements over the first version thanks to the feedback they have provided. Among the problems in the first beta version that were solved were the lack of connectivity with hidden Wi-Fi networks, problems with video playing during multi-window mode or errors in fast response in some applications. If you are a developer and you are trying out the new features of the Android N, you can report any other errors you find here.

What does Android N contribute to developers?

There are a series of new features that affect the behavior of the new operating system and the operation of the Android N API and that are really interesting for any team of application developers:

● Multi-window function. Android N users can see two applications at the same time in their mobile devices: one alongside (split screen) or on top of the other.

In split screen mode, the user can move the divider to the left or right to resize each screen (this browsing mode was already introduced by Apple in its iOS). In addition, Android N has the picture-in-picture mode, which allows users to play back video while interacting with another application. This version was not debugged in the first version for developers. Developers can also use the SDK to set their app for use on a complete screen only.

Split screen mode: 

Picture-in-picture mode: 

● Performance improvements: the primary aim of Android N is to increase device performance, specifically with regard to battery life, RAM memory use and apps functions. Doze was first introduced in the Android 6.0 version, a battery optimization mode that provided better CPU activity when the screen was off or on standby. Android N presents several improvements to Doze. It adds CPU optimization functions when the mobile device is in a pocket and moving. An important step.  

Doze is an important optimization mode for developers because of its effects and limitations in applications with specific functions. A very common example in apps that use alarms or timers. Since Android 6.0 (Android Marshmallow), developers have seen changes in the Android API and two new methods to set up these alarms and allow applications to launch events even when the device is in Doze mode. 

Nonetheless, Doze comes with some default restrictions that developers should be aware of while they design their applications: the system ignores wake locks, does not perform Wi-Fi and GPS searches and has its own specificity in alarm development.

● Changes in the permissions. The GET-ACCOUNTS permission has been eliminated for the version for Android N developers. Changes have been made in both user account permissions and in writing operations in external storage devices.

● Android for Work. Android N has added changes in applications designed for Android for Work. Some of these changes are decisive for product development: for example, installation of certificates (developers will have to use a certificate installer so the DPC device policy controller can set them up), password reset, secondary user management and access to device identifiers. 

Work sleep mode: users can turn off their work profile completely to make sure they do not receive notifications while the profile is not in use.
VPN: VPN connection to access application and information.
Disable access to applications by Android for Work.
Remote start-up for authorized profiles.

● Notification system improvements. Android N will include the results of all the knowledge accumulated by Google in the management of notifications in wearable devices, through its Android Wear operating system. N will have a new visual notification system, that does not stack one on top of the next, but groups them by channels and provides access with a button or a grouper. Google’s intention is to sort the large amount of alerts.

The system groups the notifications and gives the user the option of opening the subgroups to see them without any difficulty. It can group notifications by channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Hangouts, etc. The screen shot below gives a perfect idea of the comparison. 

Android N also has a fast notification response option from the alert display, without having to enter the application. Text can be entered from the notifications panel.

● Data savings. Android N returns to data savings mode when the applications are in the background. Google has made changes to its ConnectivityManager API, which is the interface that provides information about the network status.

● Improvements in screen zoom. Google’s new mobile operating system keeps users with poor eyesight in mind by presenting a new system to increase the size of objects on the screen. 

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