Android N’s Third Developer Preview

Carl Weinschenk
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The developer’s world is a strange and complex one. But, of course, what these folks come up with – and how it is later implemented by phone manufacturers and network operators – is very important. Google used its I/O 2016 developers' conference at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, this week to release the third public beta of the Android N operating system (OS).

It is an important move. Android must keep pace with Apple’s iOS and be nimble enough to be implemented on devices from many phone makers. How Android deals with these ongoing challenges is always an issue.

The commentary from the introduction was neutral to generally positive, suggesting that knowledgeable observers saw a lot of new and potentially valuable features, and that existing functionality looks to be improved.


eWeek’s Chris Preimesberger reports that David Burke, the Google Android vice president of Engineering, said that the new iteration of the OS focuses on performance, productivity and security. A long quote in the piece traces the evolution of Android N. At various stages, a new Just in Time (JIT) compiler was included. The goal, according to Burke, is to improve performance and speed installations and reduce space requirements. Subsequently, a new 3D rendering API was added. Productivity and security elements were added as well.

There seem to be significant changes. Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo describes a change in the OS: It is “borrowing” the installation procedure used by Google Chrome. This, he writes, will save users time. The piece goes into a high level of technical detail, but the intended impact is fairly straightforward:

Updates, once they are created by your OEM, approved by your carrier, and downloaded, will now be applied 'seamlessly,' just like on Chrome OS. You'll be on version 1.0, reboot, and you'll be quickly, transparently upgraded to version 2 without having to wait for any ‘Android is upgrading’ dialog boxes.

The Verge offered a nice summary of the eight new or improved things in Android N. The most important are improved performance, tweaks to multitasking, notifications, tweaks to settings, and virtual reality. The others seem to be cosmetic and whimsical. That gives the OS character, however, and as a group shouldn’t be dismissed.

Google is holding a contest for what Android N will be called. No doubt, it will be another dessert item in which people should not overly indulge. IT Pro suggests that the final version of Android N – with, no doubt, a fattening name – will be released in the October timeframe.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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