Android Nougat: When You'll Get it and Why You'll Want it

A look at Android 7.0's new features including a better camera

Android Nougat
Android Nougat Unveiling. Courtesy of Google

It's official, Android 7.0 aka Android N has a name: Android Nougat. Google announced it at the end of June at its Mountainview Headquarters revealing the Android statue standing on three bars of nougats—those present received their own nougat to munch on.

Android invited users to name the new operating system, and after rejecting options including Nectar, Nutmeg, and New York Cheesecake, it landed on Nougat.

(Another fan-favorite was Nutella, but that was always unlikely considering it's a registered trademark.) 

Nougat is available in developer mode, and version 4 included an Easter Egg: an N emblazoned with NameyNamey McNameface. This refers to a joke that Android's VP of Engineering made about this contest turning into another Boaty McBoatface situation. (That refers to a contest to name a ship, that ended up with that hilarious name as winner.)

Of course, Nougat has a lot more to offer than Easter Eggs, even if version 5 of the developer mode includes a silly "cat-catching" game. Android continues to refine notification management, security, battery-saving modes and more. Let's explore.

Google Camera

The camera that comes built-in to Nexus devices and is available to download for the rest of us gets an upgrade in Android 7.0 I've previously written about the Google Camera, which already had generous features.

This update (version 4.1) includes the ability to customize the volume and down buttons: you can choose between shutter, zoom, and volume. It's also streamlining several of the camera settings to make them easier to access. There's also the option to use a "twist" gesture to toggle between the front and rear cameras.

Multitasking

I always end up with lots of apps open at the same time, and when using my Samsung Galaxy S6, I can close all of my active apps with one tap. Stock Android will now get this functionality with a "clear all" button that can be accessed in the multitasking menu. Google has also added what's called Quick Switch, which lets you toggle between apps, similar to the "alt-tab" function on a PC. Finally, as I mentioned in my other post about Android N, stock Android will add multi-window support, something I also already enjoy on my Samsung device.

Notifications

Notification management gets two notable upgrades: direct reply and bundled notifications. Direct Reply, in which can you respond to notifications without opening an app is already available for Google Hangouts, but will be an option for third-party apps as well. Android will also bundle your notifications by app rather than simply in the order in which they're received. Sounds good to me.

Security

As we know, security is an important Android issue. Nougat will automatically download security updates to your device; all you have to do is restart the device to get the latest version. This is a great idea since it's easy to procrastinate these types of downloads.

Other Updates

Finally, Nougat gives Doze Mode a boost so that whenever the screen is off, Android limits background tasks in order to save battery life. You can expect better gaming graphics and support for pressure sensitive touch. The Quick Settings menu will be easier to access in stock Android—one swipe instead of two. You'll also be able to customize this menu with the settings you use the most (Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode, Bluetooth, etc.)

When Will You Get Android N?

Short answer: it'll be awhile. Many Android users don't even have Marshmallow yet, and the developer preview of Nougat is available only on a few devices, including only the newest Nexus smartphones.

The rollout will likely take several months or more, and those with older devices won't ever have access without rooting. At this point, the only way to get OS updates quickly is by purchasing a Nexus device or by rooting your current device