About a month after the first Developer Preview as released, Google announced today that the 2nd preview for Android N has been released. While Android N remains very much in beta mode, this update addresses a significant number of bugs that were identified by testers and also brings some new features for testing.
The Android team on the Developer Blog has outlined the highlights of the new features in this 2nd beta.
Last month’s Developer Preview introduced a host of new features, like Multi-window, bundled notifications and more. This preview builds on those and includes a few new ones:
- Vulkan: Vulkan is a new 3D rendering API which we’ve helped to develop as a member of Khronos, geared at providing explicit, low-overhead GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) control to developers and offers a significant boost in performance for draw-call heavy applications. Vulkan’s reduction of CPU overhead allows some synthetic benchmarks to see as much as 10 times the draw-call throughput on a single core as compared to OpenGL ES. Combined with a threading-friendly API design which allows multiple cores to be used in parallel with high efficiency, this offers a significant boost in performance for draw-call heavy applications. With Android N, we’ve made Vulkan a part of the platform; you can try it out on supported devices running Developer Preview 2. Read more here.
- Launcher shortcuts: Now, apps can define shortcuts which users can expose in the launcher to help them perform actions quicker. These shortcuts contain an Intent into specific points within your app (like sending a message to your best friend, navigating home in a mapping app, or playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app). An application can publish shortcuts with ShortcutManager.setDynamicShortcuts(List) andShortcutManager.addDynamicShortcut(ShortcutInfo), and launchers can be expected to show 3-5 shortcuts for a given app.
- Emoji Unicode 9 support: We are introducing a new emoji design for people emoji that moves away from our generic look in favor of a more human-looking design. If you’re a keyboard or messaging app developer, you should start incorporating these emoji into your apps. The update also introduces support for skin tone variations and Unicode 9 glyphs, like the bacon, selfie and face palm. You can dynamically check for the new emoji characters using Paint.hasGlyph().
- API changes: This update includes API changes as we continue to refine features such as multi-window support (you can now specify a separate minimum height and minimum width for an activity), notifications, and others. For details, take a look at the diff reports available in the downloadable API reference package.
- Bug fixes: We’ve resolved a number of issues throughout the system, including these fixes for issues that you’ve reported through the public issue tracker. Please continue to let us know what you find and follow along with the known issues here.
For those of you who are in the Android N Beta program, the OTA update to your device should be coming to you at any point. You will be notified on your device when the update is available and you can download and install it. You will need to be connected over Wi-Fi to do the download given the size of the update. If you want to sign up for the beta program, you can do so at https://www.google.com/android/beta to get signed up. Remember however that the code is still in beta so you will likely run into bugs and other oddness. It is highly recommend not to install it on your daily devices.