Yesterday Google surprised a number of people by launching the developer beta of the next release of Android, which is codenamed Android N. Normally the beta version of Android comes to developers during Google I/O in May, but in a way it makes sense for Google to release it to developers a few months earlier so they can receive feedback and discuss common questions and concerns during the event.

The early release isn't the only change with this new beta version of Android. In the past I've often complained about Google's poor handling of developer betas. They've always been too monolithic for my liking, with only two or three betas being released to developers before the final version. There was also the problem with installation. While I am not averse to using the Unix shell, there is no reason that a developer should have to use adb via the command line to install a developer beta of Android. It should be done via an update directly from the device, or by some software tool with a proper graphical interface that can be run on your computer. It didn't help that the update packages often failed to work which required you to decompress it and flash each file one by one.

With Android N, Google has recognized and resolved these problems by providing a simple way for developers to opt in to the program via a web interface. Once you opt in, your device almost instantly receives a notification prompting you to install an over the air (OTA) update which will install the Android N beta. This is much more user friendly, and it has the added bonus of making it easier for users to opt in which gives Google more usage and diagnostic data to work with. Because the OTA isn't just making changes to the existing OS it is quite large, with it being just under 1GB on the Pixel C and Nexus 6, and 1.1GB on the Nexus 5X.

In this article I'll just be taking a look at some of the most notable features of Android N, including Multi-Window mode, changes to notifications, and improvements to energy and memory optimizations.

Multi-Window Support
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  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, March 14, 2016 - link

    @UtilityMax: "I have never seen something like a Surface Pro x being used in a pure tablet mode."

    I have. Works just fine. Not something I'd call superior to the competition, but better than many give it credit for. It's as ET said above, for most people it is only worth it as a 2-in-1 device. For a tablet only experience, it isn't compelling enough to pull people from competitors.
  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, March 14, 2016 - link

    @ET: "A Windows tablet (IMO) is only worth it as a 2-in-1, ..."

    I don't disagree. If you are getting a windows tablet that isn't 2-in-1 in some fashion, then you are missing out on the primary advantage of windows tablets.

    @ET: "..., and even then I think that most people who spent significant time using tablet mode will get a better experience with a Windows ultrabook plus an Android tablet."

    It really depends on if you have the luxury of bringing two devices with you and what you are doing in tablet mode. If seamless integration is beneficial, then two devices may not be the best bet. That said, I have to agree, most people don't fall into these caveats and would probably be better served by separate devices.
  • BurntMyBacon - Monday, March 14, 2016 - link

    @ET: "I'd much rather use my Galaxy Tab S 8.4 than any Windows tablet. Android offers a better "desktop" ..."

    Wow. My Nexus 7 (2013) doesn't provide anywhere near the the quality desktop of a windows device (tablet or otherwise). Is this a Samsung specific improvement. I've heard so many terrible things about TouchWiz from so many people, but if it can really provide a superior desktop, then I need to check it out. Or is it that you have third party software that makes the difference.
  • shadarlo - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    This x1000

    Why anyone would buy an iOS or Android tablet for anything more than $200 is beyond me. For anything above that you can find a windows tablet that is so much more useful. And even more ridiculous is $500-$1000 for a non windows tablet.
  • raptormissle - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    Fortunately, the majority disagree with you. Anyone who buys a Windows tablet over an iOS or Android tablet is just looking to run their old clunky windows apps on a tablet. The OS and apps are no where near optimized for tablet use and you really need to be a hardcore windows fan to even tolerate it, No wonder windows tablet sales continue to suck.
  • Ratman6161 - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    "Anyone who buys a Windows tablet over an iOS or Android tablet is just looking to run their old clunky windows apps on a tablet. "

    Or....simply has a different use case than you do. Everyone thinks that whatever they have is the best. And it probably is...for them. Not necessarily for eveyone
  • ET - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    That argument goes both ways. I'd say that for most tablet use cases Windows is inferior.
  • UtilityMax - Saturday, March 12, 2016 - link

    For one, a larger screen makes it worth to pay more for an android tablet. It is indeed true you can find very good 8 inch tablets for 200-250 these days, but if you want 10 inch screen, then the price is 300-500. I use my tablet as a protable TV/video screen I can take everywhere, and Android works well enough for that. Windows tables are much bigger and heavier, and basically feel more like netbook or notebook without a keyboard attached.
  • darkich - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    .. Wait, did you just said that Android apps run better via bluestack on a windows device, than they do on actual Android devices?!?
  • lexluthermiester - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    Speak for yourself. I love my Android tablets! iOS and Windows are craptastic on tablets in my opinion. Windows 10 is only useful in standard desktop mode, but with it's privacy and security problems, it's just not worth it. Then again, Android 5.x is ugly as and a backtrack from KitKat. 6.x fixes a few of those issues but it's still very unappealing to the eye.

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