Google has completed its five month beta program and is officially releasing Android 7.0 Nougat today. The company will begin rolling it out to select Nexus devices, including the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, the Pixel C tablet, and the General Mobile 4G (Android One phone), as an OTA over the next few weeks. The Nexus 5 and 7 (2013) are not eligible for the update.

The LG V20 will be the first new device to ship with Nougat installed. Manufacturers and carriers have not committed to a specific timeline for rolling out updates for existing devices, however. Samsung’s President of Mobile, Koh Dong-jin, revealed in an interview with The Korea Times that the recently released Galaxy Note7 should receive an update perhaps in the next 2-3 months. HTC stated that the HTC 10, HTC One A9, and HTC One M9 will all be receiving Nougat updates, but did not provide any dates, only stating that timing and any additional eligible devices will be announced later.

We took our first look at some of Nougat’s features when we got our hands on the first developer beta back in March. Since then, Google has continued to refine the OS and add new features. The new Split-Screen mode, which provides a native API for using two apps side by side, should provide a boost for multitasking. This will be more useful for tablets, but phablet phones should benefit too. There’s also many smaller tweaks, such as double-tapping the overview button to switch between the two most recently used apps, that improve usability and productivity.

Nougat also includes the ability for apps to bundle notifications, reducing clutter on the lock screen or in the notification shade. The bundles can be expanded for more detailed information about each specific notification, and you can even reply to notifications directly from the notification shade without launching an app first.

Performance and battery life should also improve with Nougat. The updated JIT compiler claims to improve the runtime performance of apps while also reducing the amount of storage space they require. Android 7.0 also includes official support for the new Vulkan graphics API. Similar to Apple’s Metal, it’s a low-level API that dramatically improves 3D performance by reducing the overhead of draw calls. The changes to Android’s Doze feature, first introduced in Android Marshmallow, promise a small boost to battery life by allowing the phone to go into a lower power state when it’s being carried around with the screen locked.

Android has been plagued with security issues, and while this will remain a topic of concern for the foreseeable future, Nougat does bring some new security enhancements. Perhaps the biggest change is the hardening of Android’s Stagefright mediaserver library—a combination of better code sanitization to eliminate buffer overflows and splitting the library into several sandboxed components with more restricted permissions. Nougat also adds file-based encryption, a more secure boot process, and behind-the-scenes OS updates.

Nougat provides too many improvements to fully cover here, but even the visible and not so visible changes mentioned above should prove to be welcome additions to Android.

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  • Xailter - Monday, August 22, 2016 - link

    "The Nexus 5 and 7 (2013) are not eligible for the update."

    Crap, guess it's time to update my phone!
    Reply
  • michael2k - Monday, August 22, 2016 - link

    You mean buy a new one? Reply
  • basroil - Monday, August 22, 2016 - link

    The only reason that android is still a pos operating system even after 7 major revisions... I have computers from 2006 running Windows 10 (four major revisions, 8 "minor" revisions from XP SP2 to Win 10 1607), yet my 3 year old phone was upgraded from 4.2.2 to 4.4 and never received another update! Basically no excuse for android to have so many revisions at this point if hardware compatibility with those revisions is not a priority! Reply
  • t.s - Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - link

    1. Your phone is nexus? If not, rant to your carrier / manufacturer.
    2. Computing power of 10 years old x86 CPU is not that different with today's x86 CPU; 10 years old smartphone CPU is like earth and heaven with today smartphone CPU.
    Reply
  • Michael Bay - Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - link

    E6600 I had exactly ten years ago is hardly comparable to i5-3570 I have now. Reply
  • mmrezaie - Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - link

    Nexus 5 is absolutely not an obsolete hardware by today's standards either, and it is Nexus. Google always abandon their own hardwares too, but it has better software support of the other androids. Reply
  • close - Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - link

    The customer doesn't care (and doesn't have to care) about who makes the hardware and who makes the software, they just want an update. The manufacturer is implementing an update model that Google designed and baked into Android. You don't just buy a Samsung or an LG phone, you buy an Android phone and the inability of one of the largest companies around to provide an update model that actually works in the customer's favor, not for the OEM can just tell you where you are on their list or priorities. The OEM always conveniently forgets to update your phone because it's too expensive and because it's a much better deal for them if you just buy a new one.

    There's no reason for Android not to run on older hardware considering the ARM ISA doesn't change every day. As long as it can run on a SoC it means the only limitation is that Google went for the model that is admittedly cheaper but favors OEMs instead of the consumer.
    Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - link

    close: I'd agree with you on the part where you say the customer doesn't care about who makes the hardware or software. But I would disagree with you that most customers care about updates either. I'm sure that almost everyone who is reading this article to begin with does care. But we are in no way the typical customer. My wife certainly does not know or care what version of Android her phone runs on. She might be aware of the fact that the brand of phone she has is HTC but that's only because it says HTC on it. I am completely certain she does not know or care that its a One M9 with a Snapdragon 810 CPU. FYI when the upgrade to Android 6 came out for it, I manually updated it for her (from 5.x) to make sure she didn't have any problems and that it didn't happen at an inconvenient time. As an experiment, I purposely did not tell her it had been updated to see if she would notice. She did not. I strongly believe she is much more of the typical consumer of these devices than I am. Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - link

    PS: There is one thing that Google really could/should do and that is to take control of the security related patching. Even if a device is not going to get an Android version update, it is still important to get security patches through some mechanism similar to Windows Update from Microsoft.

    New features I can live without. Patches to known vulnerabilities are a different matter and should be addressed separately. I would like to see google commit to security patches for at least three major releases i.e. Now that 7.0 is released, we should still be able to get security patches back as far as 4.x. Or if they don't want to go that far back, there should be some well defined cutoff; weather its number of versions, number of years, etc that is consistent across the board.
    Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - link

    basroil: Funny you should mention that you have PC's from 2006 running Windows 10. That's significant because that's when dual core CPU's that abandoned the (more or less) failed Pentium 4 architecture came out. The Core 2 Duo E6600 was release in Q3 2006 according to Intel (google ARK E6600) . It was around this time that CPU's on desktop PC's finally reached a point where there were a lot of people who just did not need any more. My own search for speed ended in 2011 with my i7-2600K which is still my primary workstation today (though its memory has increased from 8 GB to 32 and its spinning disks have disappeared in favor of SSD's).

    The point is that the journey that resulted in those 2006 PC's or my 2011 PC began way back in 1981 with the original IBM PC running the 8088 CPU (and there were PC's before that). So it took 25 years for desktop PC's to reach the level of the 2006 machines you are talking about. Keep in mind that the first iPhone didn't come out until a year later in 2007 - only 9 years ago (yup, I know there were smartphones before the iPhone like my ancient Samsung i760 with its Windows Mobile 6 but the iPhone brought about the smartphones we know today).

    My current phone is a Galaxy Note 5 which is the first phone I've had where I've been able to say that the performance is good enough and that unless I significantly change the way I use a phone, Its good enough and will be good enough for a long time. So even with PC's getting a 25 year head start, my Note 5 has already caught up with my PC as far as being "good enough". The phone I had three years ago wasn't. So, if I were still using that phone today i'd probably get a new one even if an update was available.

    So, yes, now it seems updates may be more important than they used to be as I plan to keep the device a lot longer. But the entire model of an open source OS combined with the entire business model of phones in general (other than iPhones - more on that in a moment) means there is little or no incentive to update phones more than about 2 years old. It costs money and there is no return on the investment because Samsung, HTC, and all the others made all the money they were ever going to make on that phone at the time that they sold it to you. This is very different than the PC world (pre-Windows 10) where Microsoft made you pay for three of those version upgrades you made (assuming you got the Windows 10 updgrade free). Would you be willing to pay for an Android Update like most people used to have to do for Windows?

    Even Apple draws a line at the iPhone 5 as the oldest phone that will run iOS 10 and that was released in 2012 so...only four years backwards from today. Apple does have an advantage on the money making front however. Their various stores, services etc let them keep making money on the phone long after the sale which Android makers can't really do. Going back to my point that phones are now good enough, i'm actually wondering if someday Apple will start making mid-range phones and essentially giving them away just to keep people in the iOS ecosystem. got an iPhone 4 that can't be updated? No problem. Bring it to your local Apple store and we will exchange it for a brand new iPhone SE for free...and you just keep paying us for our services and a cut of all purchases you make from the phone.

    In the Android world, we will probably descend into commodity territory. Don't worry about updates cause a $150 phone will meet all your needs; so just buy a new one every couple of years. different business models to handle essentially the same problem.
    Reply

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