Google on Wednesday rolled out the first preview build for the next version of Android software, which powers more than 80 percent of the world’s smartphones and tablets.
Tagged ‘Android N’, the new software is available for Android software developers to tool around with, and it can also be installed on Google’s Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9 and Pixel C devices.
Google said that developers will be able to upgrade to Android N directly over the air.
The company explained that Google is debuting the next version early because it wants more developer feedback.
“By releasing a ‘work in progress’ build earlier in development, we have more time to incorporate developer feedback,” Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering, said Wednesday in a blog post.
Google hopes the preview release will help it get a final N release to device makers by this summer.
Some of the newest features that consumers can look forward to once the final release comes out includes, the ability for applications to launch split-screen modes on smartphones or tablets.
“In addition, activities can also go into picture-in-picture mode on devices like TVs, and is a great feature for apps that play video,” Burke said.
Android is also continuing to invest in Project Svelte, which aims to reduce the amount of memory space required so it can run on a broader range of devices.
Android N is also going to offer better notification support — including the ability to interact with notifications without opening the app. In other words, you’ll finally be able to reply to messages in-line, without having to stop what you’re doing.
Developers will also be able to bundle notifications from the same app together. This way, you could see all of your SMS notifications in one place, rather than as separate entries.
Google says that in N, the Doze mode from Marshmallow now works to save battery when the screen on your device is turned off.
The last version is called Marshmallow. Before that was Lollipop. The company said because Android N is getting released so early, it hasn’t been named yet.
Google’s big challenge, though, is getting people to use the latest version of its software. On Tuesday, Google said only 2 percent of Android devices are running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the most current version of the software. The most popular version — now on 36 percent of Android devices — is Lollipop, released as Android 5.0 in November 2014. However, it took until this week for Lollipop to finally take that crown from Android 4.4 KitKat, released in October 2013.