Mobility

Android 7.0 Nougat: Small changes that make a big difference in UX

Not every feature in Android 7.0 Nougat is a showstopper. Don't overlook small improvements that add up to make Android 7 special.

nougathero.jpg
Image: Jack Wallen

The seventh iteration of Android (Nougat) has finally been released by the mighty Google. If you happen to be the owner of a Nexus device, you might see this update very soon. Everyone else...you know the drill.

So after an extended period of waiting for the update to trickle through your carrier and onto your device, what can you expect to happen to your Android device once its center has become a creamier shade of Nougat?

Plenty.

I've already covered the three most important security updates that will come with Nougat; these updates should go a long way to making Android more secure. And TechRepublic's Conner Forrest wrote what business users need to know about Android 7.0. So what else remains to highlight about the Nougat release? Believe it or not, there are a lot of tiny details about Nougat that make for a much improved Android experience. Let's take a look.

SEE: How to jump the queue and download Android 7.0 Nougat now (ZDNet)

Quick Settings

When you pull down your Notification Shade, you'll see Quick Settings icons. Prior to Nougat you couldn't easily edit these icons, but now, you can.

When you open the Quick Settings screen (pull the Notification Shade down twice), you will see an Edit button (Figure A). Tap that Edit button, and you can add, remove, and reorder all of your Quick Settings.

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen
The Nougat Quick Settings Edit button revealed on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6.

Night Mode

Finally...Google saw to it to bring back the Night Mode button; this was one of the most frequently requested of the smaller features.

Let's say you're working late and don't want to bother those around you—Night Mode to the rescue! Pull down the Quick Settings screen and tap Night Mode—the screen will adjust to better suit viewing in a dark environment. If you long-press that button, you can access the Night Mode settings (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B
Image: Jack Wallen
The Night Mode settings.

Within the settings, you can enable Night Mode to turn on automatically and enable the automatic adjustment of brightness.

Quick Switch

There's a handy feature that allows you to quickly switch between the two most recently used apps. If you double-tap the Multitasking button, the last app you used will appear. Double-tap again, and the app you had open prior to that will open. This is an incredibly easy way to switch back and forth between two apps.

Doze

The Doze feature (which does an outstanding job of saving your battery) has been given a few necessary tweaks.

In the initial release, Doze would put the device into a lower energy mode when the screen was off, and the phone was stationary; now, Doze is smart enough to do the same thing even when the phone is in motion. So you can tuck your phone into your pocket, and Doze can still kick in to save your battery.

Data Saver

This new option for Android will help your device use less data, which is especially critical for users who are on limited data plans.

After Data Saver is switched on (you can toggle it from the Quick Settings screen), it will not only block background data (something that has been a part of Android for a while), but it will inform applications to use less data whenever possible. Long press the Data Saver Quick Settings button, and you can gain access to the Data Saver settings, where you can enable/disable Data Saver, enable/disable cellular data, configure your billing cycle, check Wi-Fi usage, and even set network restrictions (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C
Image: Jack Wallen
Configuring the Data Saver feature.

A new compiler

One feature you won't be interacting with is the new JIT compiler. This is important for two reasons: Apps will compile 75% faster, and compiler code will be reduced by almost 50%—this translates to much faster installs and smaller footprints for apps. That's big...very big.

Settings sidebar

If you've ever been in a Settings window and needed to quickly find a different Settings location, you had to tap the back button and then locate that next feature to configure. With Nougat it's easier than ever to find settings—swipe from the left edge while in Settings to reveal the Settings sidebar (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D
Image: Jack Wallen
The Settings sidebar in action.

The improvements keep coming

This only scratches the surface of what Android Nougat brings to the table. Google has done an outstanding job of improving on an already fantastic iteration of its platform (Android Marshmallow). Hopefully, Google will continue this trend, and Android "O" will venture into brilliance.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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