It is that time of the year when rumours, speculations and counter-speculations about what will be and won’t be in the next version of Android start popping up. This year, Google is expected to release Android N. The new version of its mobile operating system will be showcased at the upcoming Google developer conference, I/O 2016. Before that day comes, several people have already been getting tips on what we can expect.
One of the things we have heard previously is that Android N may or may not feature an application drawer. Google has already come out to state that the video that has stoked the no-app-drawer fire is not conclusive. However, it can be taken as a pointer for things to come. While the app drawer may not necessarily be done away with in the next version of Android, it may be pushed to the periphery and made available as an option.
One of the most requested features on Android since multi-user account support arrived on the platform is multi-window, the ability to use several applications side by side. Sure some Google Android partners like Samsung and LG have implemented this with varying levels of success. Even third party app developers have chipped in with temporary fixes. Some that work really well. However, despite hints of Google officially bringing the feature to Android, it has never really made it. Android N is said to be when it will finally happen.
Better tablet support
Google’s new pet project, the first mobile device that Google made without sourcing a name partner like it always has, exposed its mobile platform’s not-so-great support for tablets. The Pixel C despite being a hardware marvel, fails because of shortcomings in the software. Google is said to have been taking notes and Android 7.0 will reverse all that.
New notification shade
This is a big one. First spotted by Android Police, the new version of Android will get a new notification shade. Well, not really new but reworked. If you hated the white shade of the last two versions of Android then you are not in luck. They are going nowhere. At least for now. However, things will be smoothened a bit. Those tiny gaps between notifications will be gone. Notifications will be unified. We will also be able to easily tell from which app a notification is being pushed.
The quick settings panel will also see some changes. Users will be able to edit the contents of the panel, something already possible in non-stock versions of Android but impossible on the stock version. Users will also be able to scroll through the quick settings panel so not everything needs to be on the first page.
Reworked Settings app
In a recent post on the Android Developers blog, Google let slip the screenshots below:
While meant to showcase Support Library 22.3 of Android, the screen grabs reveal one important thing: a hamburger menu is being added to the Settings application. We may see that soon when Android N is paraded at I/O 16. If you are keen enough you will notice that there is also a dark theme. The dark theme, a much-requested feature that is already loved on modified Android builds like OnePlus’ Oxygen OS, is expected to make a comeback in Android N after being sidelined in Marshmallow despite having been a part of the preview builds.
It is still too early to speak with finality on the features of Android N. Since most of us will likely lay our hands on it in the next year (if history is anything to go by) and it may not be publicly available for everyday use till towards the end of the year, we should expect several features we have not heard of to pop up in our radars every so often and others to disappear.