We noshed on Nougat, and Android 7.0 is Google’s sweetest update yet

Night Mode is still accessible in the final version of Android 7.0 Nougat

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It’s dessert time, and today we’re getting a special treat — Nougat. After more than 5 months of developer previews in the Android Beta Program, the official release of the newest Android flavor is here. We will periodically be updating this post with more Nougat-related features we uncover, such as how Night Mode is still available in the final release.

“Today, we’ll begin rolling out Android 7.0 Nougat to Nexus devices,” Sameer Samat, vice president of Product Management at Android and Google Play, wrote in a blog post. “And with more ways to make Android your own, it’s by far our sweetest release yet.”

It certainly is Android’s “sweetest release.” After 5 months of using it, we think Nougat brings more customization, multi-tasking power, and maturity to the operating system as a whole. Nougat is all about function and providing users more granular controls — and that extends to allowing developers to add more features that would make using the operating system more useful. Direct Reply, which lets you quickly respond to emails, messages, and more in the notifications, is one prime example.

If you have an Android device that can upgrade to 7.0 Nougat and you can’t wait, go ahead and install it. The rollout seems have to gone smoothly, and there have not been any system-breaking bugs, or complaints of one. You’ll be pleased to know that Google is already working on the first maintenance build of Nougat, which is due to be released in the fall.

“We’re moving Nougat into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters,” according to the Android Developers Blog.  “In fact, we’ve already started work on the first Nougat maintenance release, that will bring continued refinements and polish, and we’re planning to bring that to you this fall as a developer preview.”

So perhaps we’ll not only see monthly security updates, but also monthly version updates.

Unless you’re in a rush to get a new phone, it’s best to wait until you can snag a device with Nougat already installed. After all, we all know it can take ages to get the latest version of Android on non-Nexus phones.

Android 7.0 Nougat rolls out to select devices

Android 7.0 Nougat is currently rolling out to Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, and Pixel C devices. Android One’s General Mobile 4G is also getting the update. If you own another Android device, you’ll have to check with your carrier and manufacturer to see when and if the update is coming to you. We’ll keep you updated as more devices gain access to Nougat.

“The Nexus and Pixel C update to Android 7.0 Nougat occurs in stages and some carriers will receive the update later than others,” according to Google’s blog post. “This update will be pushed simultaneously to devices in the Android Beta Program.”

Coming a little over a month after Developer Preview 5, there’s not much of a difference between the official version and the most recent beta version. It seems as though Google is saving some specific features, such as the rumored Nexus Launcher and integration with the Google Assistant for the upcoming Nexus devices.

Other manufacturers are faring a little better — the LG V20 will be the first Android smartphone that ships with 7.0 Nougat, and you can read more about it here. It’s the first time an Android version is launching on a new device that’s not a Nexus phone.

Still, Google says there are now more than 250 “major features” in Nougat including multi-window support, which lets you split two apps in one screen; bundled notifications, which lets you act on incoming emails, messages, and tasks without having to leave an app; and support for Google’s upcoming virtual reality platform, Daydream. Let’s take a closer look.

Hands on Android 7.0 Nougat

Notifications get a visual refresh and more power

The first noticeable big change from Marshmallow to Nougat is the notification drawer, and with notifications themselves. Notifications wrap all the way to the edges of the screen and don’t have rounded corners anymore.

Gone are the spaces between each notification as well — just a single, thin line separates them. It certainly looks a lot neater and more mature compared to notifications in Marshmallow, though it may take some getting used to. If developers utilize Nougat APIs like Direct Reply, you’ll easily be able to act on certain notifications without having to tap on them and disrupt what you’re currently doing.

For example, Direct Reply lets you respond to notifications from apps like Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, WhatsApp, and more straight from the notification tray. What’s neat is that once you respond, the notification doesn’t disappear — you’re able to see most of the conversation thread, including your own messages.

Notifications are also bundled, meaning that if you get more than two emails, you’ll still be able to see and act on each of them by swiping down with two fingers. This applies to other apps that implement bundling — Trello, for example, lets you respond to every comment you’re tagged in on various cards through the notifications alone.

Moving notifications slightly left or right will display a gear icon. This brings up a slider that lets you choose the level of importance of the notification — you can also access this setting by pressing and holding on a notification. These “levels” go all the way from Level 0 to Level 5, meaning you can either block notifications from the app or allow it to “always peek, and allow full-screen interruption.” Of course, there are four other levels to choose from in case you want to customize how notifications interrupt you.

It’s this kind of functionality that makes Nougat more powerful than previous iterations of Android.

Quick settings are more useful

Swiping down from the top of the home screen pulls down a small bar with five quick access settings tiles. Tap on a tile to turn the setting, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, data, or the flashlight, on or off. You can change these tiles to your liking, and the plan is that developers would be able to add new tiles for their own apps. We have yet to see this implemented, though.

There’s also an expand button on the far right that lets you see your full notification tray, or you can swipe down again. The notification tray is now a single color, and you can swipe horizontally to see more tiles if you have them.

The edit button at the lower right of the tray lets you rearrange the tiles and remove them completely as well. Tapping on a tile opens up more details. For example, if you tap on Wi-Fi you’ll see networks you can connect to near you. Press and hold these tiles to go into the respective page in the Settings app.

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