Enhanced UI, multi-window support and other features developers should know about Android Nougat

It's official, the next Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) mobile operating system will be "Android Nougat," and the developer preview is already available.

So what will Nougat mean for mobile developers? To fully understand its impact, let's take a closer look at some of the key features of Nougat.

1. Enhanced UI


In Nougat, users can reply to messages
from within the notification shade
Source: Google

No longer will Android end users have to worry about notifications that fail to fit their device's screen. Instead, Nougat offers an advanced user interface (UI) that delivers instant control toggles when an end user swipes down from the top of the screen. As such, Nougat's UI will enable end users to turn on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other features instantly.

Also, the new UI is designed to make it easier for end users to access notifications.

The UI enables notifications to fit the size of any device's screen, at any time. This could make it simpler for developers to provide end users with a better overall user experience, and ultimately, make Android a more popular choice for app development.

"Notifications on Android have been a constant area of progressive enhancement. From the single tap targets of the Gingerbread era to expandable notifications, actions, MediaStyle and now features such as Direct Reply and bundled notifications, notifications play an important part of the overall user experience on Android," Google Developer Advocate Ian Lake wrote in a blog post.

2. Multi-Window Capabilities


Two apps running side-by-side in
split-screen mode | Source: Google

Going forward, end users will be able to select the Recent menu within an app and open up a second app alongside it, thus providing a one-of-a-kind multi-window experience.  

Nougat's multi-window capabilities may make it easier for end users to check email while they are reading their news feed. Or, end users could message friends while they shop online. 

On the other hand, multi-window support offers new doors for developers, providing them with many innovative opportunities within their apps.

3. Daydream VR


Concept art for the Daydream
VR headset | Source: Google

Google is ramping up for a fall release of Daydream, its virtual reality (VR) platform. Meanwhile, the combination of Daydream and Nougat may make it easier than ever for end users to discover and leverage VR apps.

Furthermore, Nougat may drive the push for mobile developers to branch out and create VR-enabled apps, particularly if Daydream proves to be successful.

"If there is a high penetration/rapid rollout, VR support will be attractive to developers who have not embraced Android," a spokesperson at mobile app development firm Rocket Farm Studios told FierceDeveloper.

4. Vulkan API

Mobile game developers may appreciate the Vulkan application programming interface (API), which is designed to make cross-platform game development quick and simple.

Vulkan replaces OpenGL and serves as an open source option for mobile game developers. Thus, Vulkan could prove to be valuable for developers who want to create titles for Android, iOS and other mobile devices simultaneously.

"With each API release, Google has advanced the platform significantly, and we see Nougat as a continuation of that trend. The addition of Vulkan and integrated VR capability will likely pique the interest of developers beyond the platform," Greg Raiz, CEO of app development firm Raizlabs, told FierceDeveloper.

5. Improved Specs

Expect Nougat to offer immense power, which could make it a popular option for developers who want to enter the Android market. 

In fact, Nougat's improved specs could allow developers to create Android apps without having to worry about massive download times or quality issues that affect end users. 

For example, Nougat is designed to help end users download apps at least 75 percent faster and take up 50 percent of the space that they may have required in the past. As a result, the improved specs may make it easier for end users to download high-quality apps quickly and effortlessly. 

The bottom line on Nougat

Android remains a top choice for mobile device users, and Nougat could help make Android more appealing to mobile developers globally. Indeed, Nougat represents one of many reasons why developers may want to consider creating Android apps in the future. 

Google's recent Firebase updates, for example, may provide developers with additional tools they can use to deliver state-of-the-art Android apps to end users. 

In May, Firebase announced it would become "a unified app platform for Android, iOS and mobile web development." It also stated it would deliver new tools to help developers "improve app quality, acquire and engage users and monetize apps."

Now, Firebase could make it easier for developers to enter the Android space as well as other markets. 

"With Firebase, a developer has virtually everything they need to make a fully fledged app. This is a huge win for developers," Raiz noted. "I expect other solutions like Fabric to fall to the wayside as developers flock to Firebase. There is no other solution that offers the vast feature set of Firebase, and as such, I expect developers to go all in."

In addition, Firebase could empower developers to create apps that perform consistently across multiple platforms.

"The developments in Firebase make not only Android more attractive for developers, but also iOS and web as Firebase offers a near identical feature set for those platforms as well," Raiz said. 

Recent data indicates the number of mobile developers who call themselves Android developers is nearly identical, too. The 2016 Stack Overflow Developer Survey of more than 50,000 developers worldwide revealed that roughly just as many developers call themselves mobile developers as call themselves Android mobile developers (3 percent for each). 

Comparatively, about 2.5 percent of all developers are iOS mobile developers.

Banner image courtesy of Google.

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