Last week, Google released Android Nougat for Nexus owners. It comes with some sweet new headlining features like multi-window support and bundled notifications. After digging into the developer preview we found even more treats that you might’ve missed.
Doze Now Works Even When You’re Moving
Android Marshmallow introduced a powerful battery saving feature that disabled most of the things that drain your battery when you left your phone sitting on a table. Now, you can get that same power when you don’t use your phone when it’s moving. Doze will activate if you don’t touch your phone for a while even if it’s in your purse, sitting in your car, or jostling in your pocket.
Data Saver Mode Keeps You From Blowing Through Your Data Cap
Data caps suck, but most carriers have some form of metered data. Unless you want to pay more, you need to keep wily apps from blowing through your stash. Data Saver mode can help with that. When you enable Data Saver mode, any app that’s running in the background won’t be able to access cellular data (unless you add them to a white list). If you start to get close to your data cap—which you can edit in Settings > Data usage—Android will prompt you to enable data saver mode.
Double-Tapping the Recents Button Swaps Between Your Last Used Apps
The Recents button already makes it easy to scroll through your list of open apps and Chrome tabs. In Android Nougat, you can double-tap the Recents button to switch right back to the last app you had open.
If you need to quickly jump to an app other than the last one you had open, you can also repeatedly tap the Recents button to cycle through all the apps you have open. It’s like a rough equivalent of Alt-Tab, but on your phone. It’s not quite as natural as the double-tap gesture, but it can be easier than manually scrolling through a rolodex of apps once you get used to it.
Long-Press a Notification to Easily Silence It
Android has a ton of options for managing which apps can send you notifications buried deep within it. However, it can be tedious to tweak them. Now, in Android Nougat if you see a notification you don’t like, you can long-press it to see a few options to get rid of it. You can set it to show notifications from that app silently, block all notifications for that app entirely, or jump to the Settings app to tweak them more precisely.
Manually Set an App’s Priority In Your Notification Shade With the System UI Tuner
This feature is tucked away in Android’s constantly-changing System UI Tuner menu. Internally, Android assigns an invisible priority level to all your notifications from 0 (blocked entirely) to 5 (show at the top of the list and allow full screen interruption). Normally, you shouldn’t ever need or want to tweak this setting, but if you have some very specific needs for your notifications, you can tweak this setting.
The Built-In File Manager Is a Lot More Powerful
In Android Marshmallow, Google introduced a basic file manager that allowed you to browse folders, make copies of files, and...that’s about it. Now, the file manager, called Explorer, allows you to move files, rename files and folders, and create new folders—in short, do everything a decently powerful file manager should let you do. You can also open multiple instances of Explorer so you can jump between separate folders. While apps like Solid Explorer, our favorite file manager for Android, are still far more robust, anyone who just needs basic file management will get along with the built-in tools nicely.
You Can Block Phone Numbers At the System Level
If you’re tired of telemarketers, robocalls, and spammers, Android Nougat has a system-level call blocking feature that will apply across the entire phone. Once a number is blocked, it can’t text or call your phone. The settings persist across resets, so if you get a new phone or wipe your current one, you’re not starting from scratch (which also means that blocked numbers are stored in your Google account, which is nice!) Also, any app can access the block list, so you don’t block someone from calling you but not from texting you via Hangouts, for example. Up until now, there have been a few options for blocking calls on Android, but most of them are half-measures. Blocking a number in your dialer doesn’t block it in your VoIP app, blocking a text sender doesn’t block phone calls, and blocking any incoming caller only routes their calls to voicemail, where you’ll have to deal with their message later. This new feature even deletes their voicemails.
Do Not Disturb Can Be Set to End Automatically When an Alarm Goes Off
Android’s Do Not Disturb mode allows you to set quiet hours that block most or all notifications. In Android Nougat, Do Not Disturb can be set to override your quiet hours settings when your first alarm in the morning goes off. So, for example, if you set Do Not Disturb to end at 7:00 AM every day, but you need to get up at 6:00AM one day, you’ll start getting notifications as soon as that first alarm goes off, without changing your normal rules.
A New Tile Editor Lets You Customise Your Quick Settings Tiles
The Quick Settings shade in Android is a handy way to enable or disable things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or auto rotation. Now, you can pick and choose which tiles show up in your shade with the new tile editor. Simply pull down the Quick Settings shade and tap the Edit button to remove the ones you don’t need, drag in new ones, or reorganise them how you see fit.
Adjust the Size of Your Interface With the New Display Size Slider
In previous versions of Android, you could adjust your text size if you wanted to make more use of that freakishly gigantic phone of yours. However, you couldn’t do anything about the comically large icons. Now, you can tweak both with a new slider that can adjust the size of the interface elements on your screen.
A Work Mode Toggle Can Disable All Your Work-Related Apps When You Clock Out
If your company uses Android For Work to manage your work phone, you just got a new tool to help you detach from the office. A new Work Mode Quick Settings tile will now let you disable all your work apps with one button. Just pull down your shade, tap the toggle, and you’re all clocked out. Enjoy your time off!
You Can Add Emergency Contact and Medical Information to Your Home Screen
In Android Nougat, you can add custom emergency contact information to your dialer, so anyone can pick up your phone and immediately see who they can contact or read important information about you—in addition to placing an emergency call, like you’ve always been able to do. You can add your full name, address, date of birth, blood type, known allergies, medications, medical conditions, organ donor status, and emergency contacts. We’ve always suggested you do this, but now it’s baked in to Android. Head to Settings > Users > Emergency Info to add your info. Keep in mind, this information can be accessed by anyone with your phone. It’s not displayed on the lock screen directly—you have to dig into the emergency dialer to find it—but it’s still available without unlocking first.
No More Waiting to “Optimise Apps” Every Time You Update
After Android switched to the ART runtime in Android 4.4 Kit Kat, every time an Android phone got a major update, it had to go through an “Optimising apps” phase the first time it restarts, which takes forever. Now, Google’s made a change to the runtime that skips the optimisation step entirely, and makes the process much faster. Even better, this means that apps will install faster as well. Anecdotally, I found that re-downloading the 100+ apps I have on my Nexus 6P after I wiped and installed Android N took mere minutes, instead of the hour or so it usually takes.
The Features In the Beta That Were Removed
We’ve been using the developer preview since it first dropped. As we expected, there were a few features present in the beta that weren’t meant for the release. For posterity (or so you can ask Google to bring them back for good next year), here are the casualties we found in the final release:
Night Mode: For the second year in a row, Google teased preview users with a night mode only to snatch it away in the final version. However, there’s a silver lining. If you updated from the existing beta without wiping your phone, there’s a chance you can still access Night Mode from the Quick Settings shade. Otherwise, we’ll all have to wait and hope Google makes this official next year.
Manual Display Calibration: A setting buried in the System UI tuner allowed users to calibrate the RGB levels of their display manually. Understandably, Google decided not to give regular users the ability to accidentally screw up their displays with this.
On the surface, there are only a couple of big headlining features in Android Nougat like split-screen apps or an upcoming VR mode. Under the hood, though, there are a ton of nice little tweaks that make your phone a little bit easier to use day-to-day.