Android N Includes Multi-window, Java 8, Enhanced Notifications
Google has made available an early preview of Android N targeted specifically at developers. Android N Preview comes 10 weeks earlier compared with its predecessor, Android M Preview. Google’s desire is to get earlier feedback from developers to have enough time to incorporate the changes into it.
One of the anticipated features was the possibility to simultaneously open up multiple windows. Android N allows two such windows to run on handheld devices (smartphones, tablets), either one on top of the other in portrait mode or side-by-side in landscape mode. The user can drag the dividing line between the two windows to resize them, making one larger while the other becomes smaller. On television sets, Android N features the picture-in-picture mode, showing a 240x135 dp window in one of the 4 corners of the screen. On even larger devices the user will have more liberty in resizing the windows.
Developers decide if they allow their application to be resized in multi-window mode or take the whole screen. Also, they can handle layout operations and repainting when the device switches from portrait to landscape if they want to. Otherwise, Android will restart the activity. Even though multiple windows are visible only one of them is active, the one that the user has interacted with lastly. The other is paused. The paused mode gives an application higher priority than hidden ones, and some of its activities can continue to run, such as playing a video while the user performs a task in the other window.
Multi-window supports drag&drop. The main usage is for transferring data between the windows, but it can be used to transfer other type of information.
Android N allows notifications belonging to the same application to be bundled together to save space. The notification group can then be expanded to show individual notifications. Also, the user will be able to reply directly from a notification without entering the corresponding application.
Android N supports the following Java 8 features for development: Default and static interface methods, Lambda expressions, Repeatable annotations. It also adds support for a number of reflection, language and utility APIs.
There are a number of other features available in Android N: multiple panes for settings in the notification shade, improved cellular data saving limiting background data, better support for Unicode and globalization features through ICU4J APIs, recording API for Android TV, number blocking for the default SMS, phone, and provider apps, faster boot times, enabling notification and alarm settings to work properly even after an accidental reboot, better security, and more power saving through Doze and Svelte. The JIT compiler is back performing code profiling to improve performance and save storage space.
Android N for Work allows the user to turn off the work profile, stopping all notifications and background synchronization. It can keep the VPN connection always ON, perform remote reboot, disable data roaming, improved logging and reporting, and others.