Android N: Features I’d Like To See

Ever since Google announced it’s annual I/O conference would be on the 18th-20th of May, I’ve been getting excited about what we might see in the next iteration of Android; Android N. Google dropped a (super unexpected) developer preview earlier this week, and things are likely to change, but here’s what I’m hoping for. Having researched the developer preview, some of these are looking very likely.

Night Mode

Currently, I use an app called Twilight to automatically changed the brightness and tint my screen red near bed time, which is scientifically proven to improve sleep. Thing is, it’s fiddly and it consumes more battery power to have a separate app for this. This should be baked into the operating system, and that seems likely based on the N preview.

Smarter Notifications

Android N is set to have improved notifications. There’s now an API which allows app developers to create smarter notifications where the user can reply to messages straight from the notifications panel, there’s also an API which bundles multiple notifications from one app, and then allows you to expand that bundle and act on each of the notifications separately, as opposed to being forced to open up the app. That should clear notification up quite a bit, as I do find my notifications panel quite stressful these days.

Snoozing

Another feature I’d love to see in notifications is better “snoozing”. I like having a clear notifications panel, but sometimes I get notifications that I just can’t deal with at the moment. I don’t want to dismiss them, otherwise, I’ll forget them, but I just want to dismiss them temporarily. I think this could be handled with Google Inbox-style swiping.

Just like with your emails and reminders in the Inbox app, you can swipe notifications right from your notifications panel to dismiss them, but if you swipe them left you should be able to snooze them for a later time. Once, you have swiped left a pop-up should appear asking how long you want to snooze that notification for.

Multi-Window Mode

I don’t think this needs much explaining, I’d like to be able to use two apps at once. Maybe I’m following a Twitter hashtag whilst watching a YouTube live stream, or I’m browsing on Chrome but also making notes on Google Keep and I just need both apps open at once. This is one of the most exciting features in the Android N preview. This will be especially good on tablets and convertibles, like Google’s Pixel C.

Better Calling & Messaging

Sort Out The Default SMS/MMS App

Stock Android used to have its own SMS/MMS app, then Google gave Hangouts SMS/MMS capabilities and so that became the SMS/MMS app, and then recently Hangouts displayed a notification which encouraged users to use Google Messenger for SMS/MMS messages? Google needs to find the one and stick with it.

It will be interesting to see what Google does with this after recently announcing its support of the RCS (Rich Communications Services) standard.

iMessage Equivalent For Android

At the same time, SMS, MMS and RCS are just providing a service which you can already get in other apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for free. I think Google should implement free iMessage-like Android-to-Android messaging in the default messaging app. Messages from one Android phone to another should automatically be routed through Google’s servers for free, as opposed to through cash-grabbing carriers for a price.

Google Fi-Style Experience

As I’ve said previously, It’d also be nice if these messages could be accessed on all devices. I’d like to be able to access and send messages from my laptop and have my Android phone kept in sync. Just as you can send an iMessage or SMS from an iPhone, and then access it on a Mac (or vice versa).

I’d also be nice to have the option to take calls or check voicemail from my other devices and not just my Android phone too, just as you can with Google Fi. It would be good to see this feature expand out to all Android devices and not just those on the Google Fi network.

Better Communication Between Android & Chrome

This links to my last point, and it’s the idea that Android and Chrome should be better at talking to one another. I’d like to be able to receive notifications about SMS messages or calls on my computer before I even have to reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. Even better, I’d like to be able to take action on these without having to pull out my phone, or without having to unplug my phone from its charger if it’s on the other side of the room. As The Verge details, this could all be done via Chrome – which is available on Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as being an operating system in itself for Chromebooks.

Furthermore, continuity could be enhanced by allowing users to quickly and easily send things between their devices, Pushbullet-style. I.e. If I’m working on a website on my laptop and I want to quickly send the link to my phone and open it to see how it looks.

Force Touch

It’s already proving a useful feature on iPhones, with users being able to do things like “peek” at messages or launch Chrome’s incognito mode straight from the home screen. I expect force touch technology to come to Android phones within 2016.

Nutella? Nougat? Nectar?

I’m also happy to see that Android 7.0 is set to include a better file manager, improved quick settings, the ability to add emergency information to the lock screen, and improved battery life (but I guess, we’ll see about that)! I’m incredibly excited to see some or all of these features appear in the final build come September, but in the meantime, I’ll just keep speculating about it here on Pratters.com.

Credit: Android Police Image Credit: Android Developers Blog