Soon after launching the new Pixel smartphones, Google has announced the plans to roll out the next developer preview for Android Nougat. The latest version of the platform will be referred to as Android Nougat 7.1. While the Pixel phones come with Android 7.1 pre-loaded, it will be available only to some select Nexus devices later this month followed by a widespread availability towards the end of the year.
While Android Nougat 7.1 is indeed an incremental update; it has a number of new features that will surely make you look forward to this. Google claims that the new version of Android comes with an improved support for the Daydream VR platform as well as background software update. That aside, there’re some carrier-centric inclusions including multi-end point calling and a new telephony configuration option. These, however, aren’t the most interesting inclusions in Android 7.1; rather the ones listed below are. So without further ado, let’s get started.
App Shortcuts: A Software Implementation of 3D Touch
The most interesting piece of the news regarding this new update is the introduction of a feature called App Shortcuts. This essentially is a Google’s adaptation of the 3D touch feature founds on the iPhones; sans the taptic engine. It’s merely based on software wherein, long pressing a supported app brings up a pop up showing a number of shortcuts, thereby making your task easier and faster. So just in case you long pressed the Messenger app, the Android system will bring up floating shortcuts showing your top three conversations and an option to start a new conversation. That said, as per our understanding, only a handful of apps come with support for this new feature. Initially, the feature may indeed be limited to Google’s own apps. However, we can expect more app developers to support this feature by the time the 7.1 update rolls out to public.
After Pixel Launcher, Circular App Icons now debut in stock Android
Google’s love for circle seems to continue. After introducing the circular apps icons in their Pixel Launcher, Google has carried forward a similar design language to the stock Android. Yes, the Android Nougat 7.1 will support circular icons; but no need to worry as it will still support the current icon pack for some time now. So just in case you aren’t a fan of those circles, you can always switch back to the previous icons from the launcher settings.
Finally, Google Keyboard will support GIFs
Google has also included a new feature dubbed the ‘Image Keyboard Support’ in their next developer preview. This basically allows you to share GIFs, Stickers, Memes etc. directly using the Google Keyboard. Well, it goes without saying this was one of the most sought after features, and it’s quite overwhelming to see that Google has finally taken notice. In fact, the inclusion of GIF support and customizable colors will help the plain jane Google Keyboard take on some of its third party competitors like Swype, Chrooma and GIF keyboard. With the introduction of this new keyboard, apps now will tell what type of content they accept and keyboard can deliver all of the images and other content that they have to offer.
Enhanced Live Wallpaper metadata
Moving on from the Pixel launcher, Google has included a feature that will let you provide metadata about live wallpapers to any picker displaying the wallpaper as a preview. This includes metadata like labels, description, author as a well as new context URL. It’ll be interesting to see how developers will make use of it on their apps.
Improved Storage Manager
Google’s latest Android build comes with a feature that will let an app take the user directly to setting screen to clear unused files or free space on a device. That said, it’s still not clear how this new feature intends to work. Be sure to check back as we plan to update once we have more details.