Looking forward to the next version of Android? Here's all the newest features, what's different, what's unchanged, and how it'll supercharge your phone.
Software updates are a great way to breathe fresh life into your phone, which is why each of the three major mobile OS makers do their best to bring smart new features and abilities to their mobile platforms on a regular basis. This year we’ve seen the unveiling of iOS 10 from Apple and Android Nougat from Google – the latter or which will be making its way to a laundry list of phones over the next few months.
But what’s new in the latest version of Android, and why should you be excited to upgrade? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of receiving that ‘new software update available’ notification…
1. You’ll be able to use two apps at once
One of the coolest features up Android 7’s sleeve is the ability to multitask with two app windows (or two Chrome tabs) open at once on-screen – top and bottom in portrait, or side by side if you’re using your phone in landscape. Select Samsung phones have boasted this feature for a little while now, but it’s a great addition to Android’s core featureset because it opens up a raft of new possibilities… Like watching Netflix and tweeting about it at the same time.
2. Your battery will last longer
Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) brought ‘Doze’, a feature which monitored your phone’s position to figure out when it was lying inactive on a table, so that it could switch off battery-hungry apps. That’s getting a big update in Android 7 with Doze on the Go, which takes the same principle but applies it to movement. In theory, that means your phone will know that it’s being walked along in your pocket or bag, and suspend certain apps and services appropriately. Smart stuff.
3. There’ll be loads more ? ? and ?
Android 7 boasts 1500 emojis, of which 72 are brand new. There’s even one for bacon. Beyond that, though, the preexisting emojis have been revamped. Android’s emoji faces have long resembled strange, dome-shaped slug-people, but that look’s been thrown out in Android Nougat in favour of rounder, more face-like incarnations that are closer to the ones found in WhatsApp and iOS. There’s also a smarter set of keyboard layouts to support more languages, if you’re still into typing with words.
4. Google is getting ready for VR
Ok, so Google Daydream – the company’s new mobile virtual reality platform – is only going to be compatible with select new handsets going forwards, rather than existing ones, but it’s worth mentioning here since it’s fairly big news and because it’s closely tied to Android 7. Essentially, the tech in the back end of this new software update lays the groundwork for the future of the platform, which is set to host content from the likes of HBO, Netflix, YouTube and a plethora of other apps and games via phones strapped into Google’s new VR headsets. One for your radar, if nothing else.
5. Your notifications will get smarter
Notifications in Android 7 have been spending time in the gym and the library, making them stronger and smarter in equal measure. You’ll now be able to reply to texts, Facebook messages and more, right from the dropdown notification, for instance, while they’ve also learned how to group themselves together to minimise on clutter. Bundled notifications mean that if you get 12 emails in between checks, as an example, you’ll just get one notification from Gmail – which you can choose to expand – rather than the full dozen.
6. And so will your quick settings
On the surface this seems like a fairly minor change, but it’ll save you valuable seconds every time you want to switch Wi-Fi on or off or use your phone as a torch. Basically, a row of five customisable quick-settings will now appear above your notifications with a single swipe down of the notification tray, rather than having to do that irksome second swipe to expand the whole set. Handy.
7. You’ll probably get it within the next few months
So when can you get hold of all this new Android goodness? Android update rollouts vary from manufacturer to manufacturer because making sure everything runs smoothly on every device is a complex process. Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, Sony and more have all made a point of saying that they’ll be bringing the software to their flagship phones over the next few months though, with dates ranging from ‘very soon’ to Spring 2017. You can keep an eye on specifics for your device via Android Authority’s ever-updated list.
8. But you probably won’t get the Pixel launcher
Google’s recently launched Pixel phone sports a slightly custom version of Android (7.1), which tweaks some of the user-interface bells and whistles – including a redesigned dock, an app drawer which slides up by way of a swipe instead of a tap. Sadly, that looks like a Pixel phone exclusive for the time being. That said, however, you can get a faithful recreation of it on your phone right now if you sign up to the Beta programme of Nova Launcher. You can find out more about Nova, and what other Android launchers can do for you, in our launcher roundup here.
How does Android 7 compare to iOS 10? Click here to find out what’s new in iOS 10.