Google pushes Android N Developer Preview, hints at 'N' meaning

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Google unexpectedly announced Wednesday the availability of its Android N Developer Preview, a release that comes far earlier than expected.

Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP for Android, Chrome OS and Chromecast, wrote in a blog post that the company wanted to include its partner developers more this year than it has previously in order to get earlier feedback.

"By releasing the first preview and asking for your feedback now (in March!), we'll be able to act on that feedback while still being able to hand off the final N release to device makers this summer, so they can get their hands on the latest version of Android earlier than ever," Lockheimer wrote. "Plus, you'll be able to use this additional time to support all of the new goodies in N in your apps."

Lockheimer further announced that Google-developed devices – the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, General Mobile 4G (Android One), Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Pixel C – could apply the update over-the-air with the new Android Beta Program.

Another blog post on the Android Developers Blog ran through the new features and APIs available on Android N for developers to work into their apps, including:

  • Multi-window, which allows developers to set a default option to have their apps automatically open in split-screen. Further, developers can set a minimum size for their apps so users can't not make them smaller than specified.
  • Direct reply notifications, a feature that originally popped up in Android Wear, allows users to quickly reply to messages and app notifications without leaving the notification shade.
  • Bundled notifications, a feature that allows notifications from the same app to be bundled together so they don't take up too much space. Users can delineate the bundles with a finger tap.

The company also announced a bunch of efficiency features, including expanding on projects Doze and Svelte, to better use device resources and improved Java 8 language support.

As for what the "N" in Android N means, Google is still officially silent on that front. However, it's a popular theory that it stands for "Nutella," and Lockheimer dropped a hint to that effect.

"So, the burning question that's on everyone's mind: what will the N release be named? We're nut tellin' you yet," he said.

For more:
- read the blog post making the announcement from Lockheimer
- read the Android Developers Blog on the new APIs

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