Google has revealed new details about the next version of its mobile operating system during the keynote address for its annual developer conference. Android N will bring better performance and a new method for installing system software updates.
This isn’t the first time the company has talked about this upcoming version; Google has been introducing developer preview versions for several months. While far from polished, these included many of the highlights of Android N, including split-screen multi-tasking and direct-rely notifications.
We tested the earlier developer-only versions and report on them in our Google Android N for Tablets Preview.
At Google I/O today, David Burke, Vice President of engineering for Android, talked up a new JIT compiler, which he promised will be able to install third-party applications 75% faster. It will also allow these apps to require less storage space.
In addition, the new OS version will include the Vulcan 3D graphics API, designed to make high-end games run faster and look better.
Installing Future OS Upgrades
The method that later system software upgrades are installed is being improved with Android N. As with Google Chrome, once an OS upgrade has been downloaded there will be two versions of the operating system on the device: the current one and a new one. The next time the user restarts their tablet or phone, it’s the new version that will boot up so the user doesn’t have to wait while the upgrase is being installed.
There has been some confusion about this, with some people thinking that Google had announced that it was going to be able to handle all aspects of developing and distributing OS versions, as it does with Chrome. This isn’t the case; device makers like Samsung who make modifications to Android will still have to develop and release their own versions of all future OS upgrades for their own tablets and phones. The process for installing these will just be more seamless.
No New Name… Yet
One thing Google didn’t do today is announce what the official code-name for Android N will be. Instead, the company asked for suggestions, but made it clear it wasn’t going with “Namey McNamename”. The new name will have to be for a sweet dessert of some kind, begin with the letter N, and not be a trademarked product, like Nutella.
To make a suggestion, go to Google’s website.
Public Beta Today, Final Version Later
Google announced that it will introduce a beta version of Android N later today. Unlike the earlier ones, the company is encouraging the general public to install this if they wish to get an early look.
Those who want to go ahead and try the beta — and who have a Nexus 9, Pixel C, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, or Nexus Player — can go to the homepage for the Android Beta Program and sign up for the program.
People who can wait for the final version should begin seeing it late this summer.