Google has released the second iteration of their ongoing Android N Developer Beta saga, and this build features a number of new, notable improvements, enhancements, and changes. The beta is available for download through one of these links (below) depending on what device you have. You’ll also receive the new update via OTA if you’re enrolled in the Android Beta Program.
Here’s what’s new in the second build of Android N:
Unicode 9 Emojis
Google has built Unicode 9 into Android N for support with new emojis like bacon, selfie, and more human looking ones. There are also new activity ones, so say you wanna go biking with a friend: all you have to do is send an emoji when they ask, “What do you wanna do?”
Vulken is a new 3D rendering API which makes graphic-intensive applications run much more smoothly, and now it’s built right into Android N. Here’s an explanation of the new technology straight from Google:
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.
App developers now can create new home screen shortcuts for their apps in Android N. So if they have a messaging application, they’ll create a way for users to place a shortcut on their launcher to message a certain person or pick up on a group conversation. You can also use one tap to start playing the next episode in a TV show, if that’s your thing.
According to the image above, Google has decided that see-through circle folders are better than the much more organized, card-stacked folders we have now. These definitely need some work, however expect them to really improve over the coming months.
Now, users can access the Calculator app right from their Quick Settings shade.
Clear All Button in Multitasking
Google has finally added a “Clear All” button to the multitasking menu in Android N. This will make getting rid of all those open applications a breeze. But note, you must scroll all the way to the top of your app list to access the button.
New Setup Screen
A new setup screen can also be found in Android N which features toggles to set up a mail account, ‘Ok Google’ hotword detection, and control lock screen notifications, etc. However, this screen isn’t fully finished yet as some toggles aren’t linked to anything yet, but keep in mind this is still a very early beta.
Tabbed Emergency Info Interface
Google has tweaked the UI of the Emergency Info section of Android N slightly to include two tabs at the top of the screen to access information like Blood types, Allergies, and Medications alongside emergency contacts.
There are, obviously, also bug fixes found in DP2 of Android N. Here’s a rundown of the ones Google pointed out:
A number of issues reported by developers have been fixed, including:
Can’t connect to hidden SSID or non-broadcast Wi-Fi. (bug 203116)
Microphone mute state persists across activities. (bug 205922)
Direct Reply may close open activity. (bug 204411)
Various stability fixes.
However, there are also various known issues that are present in the new build. Here’s what Google noted:
Performance and battery
System and app performance is known to be periodically slow / janky, and device may become occasionally unresponsive. These problems may become more acute with prolonged use.
In some circumstances, there can be issues with AccountManagerService that prevent logging in to Google accounts
Device may restart immediately after updating to DP2.
Problem with listening to text-to-speech (TTS) output when pitch is set near maximum level.
Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) GATT characteristics are using the wrong write type and will not be sent to a remote device. Thus, for example, some fitness devices will not work.
The option to restore data on a new device (or newly reset device) from “Your Google Account” is not actionable in the setup wizard. You must restore data from an existing device by selecting “another Android device” in the setup wizard, or else set it up as a new device.
Data connection fails when device is switched from slot 1 to slot 2 SIM.
Unable to toggle Voice Search “Always On” option.
Camera pictures in portrait orientation are corrupted, except for HDR+ photos.
Playback of Netflix HD content is known to fail on Nexus Player.
Any application that relies on dynamic video resolution changes may fail on Nexus Player.
Any application that use the VP9 video codec may fail on Nexus Player.
As you can see, there are much more issues than fixes listed here, however the tables will eventually turn once Android N gets more stable in the future. But for now, expect these problems occurring in the latest build.
We’ll update this post if there’s anything else notably different with DP2 of Android N.