The Internet explodes with the joyous screams of tech geeks every time a new version of Android hits the market. Newer versions of Android come alongside new advances in mobile hardware and power, but over the past few years these advances are more incremental than ever before. The earliest days of smartphones were, to be frank, slow and sluggish: the years that followed all saw major improvements in speed and usability.
If you own a smartphone from the past few years, though, you likely already feel like you have all you need. Should you want a phone with Android Nougat’s new features? Is it worth the upgrade?
What is Android Nougat?
Android Nougat, known alternatively as Android 7.0, is the latest major version of Android. It succeeds Android Marshmallow (6) and Android Lollipop (5). Major versions of Android are usually released about a year apart from another, typically falling in the latter half of the year and being announced/explored during Google IO events.
If you’re wondering why it’s called Nougat, by the way, that’s because Android naming conventions use Alphabetical order and Dessert/Candy-themed names.
What new features does it offer compared to Android Marshmallow?
Besides the naming conventions, you may want to know how the latest of the latest compares to the current-generation offering, Marshmallow. Let’s talk about the major all-new features offered by Nougat.
- Multi-window multitasking – While Samsung phone users have enjoyed this feature for quite some time, stock Android finally has the ability to divide applications into windows for better multitasking.
- Quick settings menu – Skinned Android variations have had simple quick settings menus for some time now, but with Android Nougat this is finally a part of the main OS.
- App-grouped notifications – Notifications are now grouped together if they come from the same app and can be expanded.
- Improved Direct Reply Notifications – Direct Reply notifications were introduced in earlier Android versions but were only compatible with Hangouts and WhatsApp. Android N looks to expand this to most, if not all, messaging applications.
- Improved Doze – Doze mode was introduced with Android Marshmallow and was focused on saving power when the phone was in sleep mode. Android Nougat is said to take these improvements to a further level by limiting background tasks to a greater extent.
- Vulkan Support – While previous versions of Android have relied on various versions of OpenGL, the latest upgrades to Vulkan, the same standard used by the latest/greatest console and PC games, such as 2016’s DOOM.
- Better VR Support – For those among us on the VR train, Android is going to start supporting it right out of the box.
- Better security (R.I.P. Heartbleed exploits).
How about older versions?
This may go without saying, but if you’re using a version of Android older than Marshmallow, it’s seriously time for you to upgrade. Older versions of Android at this point have significantly less in terms of features and performance, not to mention major security exploits that attack them on a regular basis.
Will Nougat come to my phone?
For now, Nougat is on a limited range of devices. As an owner of the Nexus 5, I’m particularly unfortunate, since my device is finally too old to get the latest Android OS update. Devices released in 2016 by good manufacturers (Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC) should be well on their way to an upgrade, but carriers can be cumbersome at times like these. Many of you may not be able to use Android Nougat until 2017 unless you buy a supported device right now.
The decision of whether or not Android Nougat is worth the update is ultimately up to you. However, since it’s important for tech writers like me to stay on the high end of security and software, I’m probably set to buy a new phone soon.
What about you?