In case you owned an Android telephone within the late aughts, and even the early a part of this decade, you have been unwittingly a part of a grand experiment in smartphone design. Google spent all these years making an attempt to work out what individuals needed in a smartphone. A number of options, like homescreen widgets and that pull-down notification shade, have been round since day one. Nevertheless it took two variations earlier than Android had an on-display keyboard (!) and three earlier than the so-referred to as omnibox allow you to search your telephone, the online, and extra all from Google’s white search field. Multitasking didn’t actually exist till Ice Cream Sandwich. There have been numerous concepts in between, most of them dangerous. The oldest model of Android that appears even remotely like what’s now in your telephone might be KitKat, which didn’t come out till 2013.
Nougat makes clear that Google now is aware of precisely what it’s doing.
Quite a bit has modified just lately, although. Or, relatively, not a lot has modified—and that’s a superb factor. The latest version of Android, referred to as Nougat (shoulda been Nun’s Farts), is the newest improve to the software program that’s now used on greater than three-quarters of all smartphones on the earth. It’s slowly rolling out to Google’s Nexus units beginning at present. (It’ll come to different telephones, too, ultimately, but when historical past is any information you’re going to have to purchase a brand new telephone if you wish to see what Nougat’s all about.) In contrast to the various Android sweetmeats that got here earlier than—from Cupcake to Honeycomb to Jelly Bean—Nougat makes clear that Google now is aware of precisely what it’s doing.
Nougat is polished, refined, and mature. It exists in a smartphone market that’s all of these issues too, which suggests Google’s not greedy at straws making an attempt to make Android work on 100 totally different gadget varieties and display sizes. The market selected massive screens and software program keyboards. Everybody is aware of find out how to use smartphones, and with a decade of knowledge in its arms Google is aware of too. Nougat’s not a really thrilling replace, truthfully—its most noteworthy options are extra about TVs and wearables than smartphones—nevertheless it’s additional proof that Google has locked onto the best way ahead for smartphone software program. And it’s undoubtedly one of the best model of Android ever.
There are solely a handful of really new options in Nougat. The one you’ll in all probability use most is the brand new emoji: Google lastly ditched these blobby yellow characters for precise, you recognize, individuals. Nougat has seventy two new emoji, too, together with avocado, scooter, bacon, selfie, and clown face (which is horrifying and you must please by no means ship it to me). Past that, an important new factor is the aspect-by-aspect window help, which helps you to open two apps on the display on the similar time. I initially anticipated to by no means use a number of home windows on a telephone-sized display, however it’s nice for copying addresses to my calendar or watching a video whereas I burn by means of some e mail on the practice. And so long as you have got a current-ish telephone with a current-ish processor, it really works with no hitch.
Whereas we’re as regards to multitasking, it’s value noting the best way Nougat tweaks app-switching. As an alternative of displaying you your most up-to-date apps whenever you hit the sq. button on the suitable aspect—together with the app you’re presently in, which is redundant and dumb and redundant—it exhibits you the app you have been utilizing earlier than. Or you’ll be able to skip the menu altogether by simply double-tapping the sq. button and leaping straight to your most just lately used app.
As all the time, notifications acquired some tweaking within the new model of Android. Google appears to know that notifications are an enormous benefit over iOS, and simply retains extending the lead. Now you possibly can take extra motion in a notification, archiving or snoozing or replying instantly with out ever even opening the app. Getting notifications you don’t want? Lengthy-press on one and alter the settings proper there. You possibly can group like notifications, re-get them organized when it comes to precedence, and extra. In the event you use Android, you in all probability spend extra time in notifications than anyplace else—that’s solely going to develop.
None of those options will encourage you to fling your iPhone from the highest of the Burj Khalifa whereas shouting, “Lastly, Android has what I want!” Nor will the brand new darkish mode, or the power to edit which settings present up on the prime of the notification shade. Personally, I’m bought on the entire thing simply because I can pin Google Hold and Inbox to the highest of the sharing menu, however you’re in all probability not as enthusiastic about that as I’m. That’s OK! The Android group doesn’t have to have extra wild new concepts about every thing. Actually it’s higher to not. Our telephones are too necessary to fiddle with for fiddling’s sake.
Proper now, iOS is making massive modifications—however nearly all these modifications are Apple catching as much as the openness and interconnectedness that has made Android so profitable. In the meantime, Android’s within the spit-shining part: it’s mature and completed, however it might all the time be somewhat cleaner and prettier. The brand new settings that make it easier to save extra knowledge, or extra battery, or extra time, are all deeply un-attractive. Every makes Android higher, within the small methods Android can nonetheless get higher.
None of that is to say there’s nothing left to do, in fact. I nonetheless assume Android has a toolbar-overload drawback, and it retains including fiddly bits with out making it simpler for common customers to seek out them. And given that an enormous a part of Nougat is its VR mode, meant to help Google’s Daydream VR platform coming later this yr, there are nonetheless alternatives for Google to be bizarre and impressive. However for you, pricey Android telephone proprietor, Nougat presents solely the small and delicate progress of an already wonderful smartphone OS. On the subject of my smartphone, the place I work and play and sext and watch The People, I’ll take that over reckless reinvention any day.
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