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Google Fills Nexus Devices With Rich Nougat Features

By David Jones
Aug 23, 2016 3:34 PM PT

Google on Monday began rolling out its long-awaited Android 7.0 Nougat release to Nexus smartphones and tablets.

The new operating system became available as a beta release, known only as "Android N," earlier this year. The experiences of developers and other users led to more than 250 new features, including improved multitasking, stronger battery life and tighter security features, noted Sameer Samat, vice president of product development.

The new OS provides quick access to settings, so important features like Bluetooth, WiFi and the phone's flashlight are readily available when needed.

The system also provides multi-locale support, so that languages can be localized and other apps can be adjusted to reflect the user's location.

Among the more sought-after features are multitasking, which lets users run two apps alongside each other in adjustable windows. Users can access notifications without having to open individual apps. Switching between apps is a snap -- all it requires is double-tapping the overview button.

android nugget split screen

Emoji Explosion

Android Nougat's expanded list of emojis lets users be more creative with their messages. There are now 72 different characters and a total of more than 1,500 expressions.

android nugget emojis

Nougat's battery life improves on that of its predecessor, Marshmallow. Users can take advantage of the doze feature, which lets the device drop into lower power use during travel.

The OS allows experiences that are more immersive, likely with an eye to enhanced uses. Support for VulcanTM is included. VulcanTM is an advanced 3D rendering API for enhanced gaming, as well as for Daydream, the company's virtual reality platform for new phones, headsets and controllers.

The new system is designed to be more secure, with file-based encryption, direct boot capability and a seamless process that allows users of new Android devices to run software updates in the background, while allowing users of existing Nexus gadgets to install updates much faster.

Driving Adoption

Some of the new features in Nougat -- including the more powerful graphics and the ability to conserve battery power -- might prove to be compelling, suggested Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Whether they're compelling enough to draw new users into the Android fold may prove to be a more difficult question to answer, however, as the cost and time required to make a mobile OS switch remain significant barriers.

The slow rollout of devices in the pipeline is another challenge for driving adoption.

Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C and General Mobile 4G will get over-the-air upgrades to Nougat, according to Google.

The LG v20, scheduled for release on Sept. 6, will be the first new phone to debut with Nougat preinstalled, Google spokesperson Joshua Cruz confirmed.

The Instant App function is a potential game changer, as it will allow users to sample new apps in the Google Play Store prior to downloading, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

It's also possible Nougat will drive new hardware sales, he suggested.

"The company seems to be taking a harder line with handset makers and wireless providers in regards to system updates -- a reasonable course given growing security problems and threats related to smartphones," King told TechNewsWorld. "If Google puts some muscle behind Nexus as the market's most quickly updated and fully secured Android-based smartphone, it could help drive significant sales increases."

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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