Android N Developer Preview released: Should you install it?

We had a go at this fancy new iteration of Android on a Nexus 5X and here are our observations.

New York Cheesecake, Nutella and even Nankhatai are some of the names that have been recommended to Google as the name of the final release for its upcoming Android iteration tagged as Android N. The name game aside, there are plenty of new bits and changes under the hood that every Nexus user (and eventually others in the form of custom ROMs) would like to have.

Android N Developer Preview released: Should you install it?

We have been spending some time with this fancy new iteration of Android on a Nexus 5X. One of the bigger questions that came from interested onlookers was, "Is it worth the trouble?". So after a bit of testing, and using it as our daily driver, here are our observations.

Features everywhere

Google Android N Homescreen, App Drawer

While there are plenty of new changes under the hood, this is not a complete UI overhaul as compared to what Google delivered with Android 5.0 Lollipop and Material Design. The new UI simply takes Android 5.0 Lollipop and the update after that (Marshmallow) and builds on it. Everything looks cleaner and clutter-free, the way it should have been on Android Lollipop.

Google Android N Lockscreen

The improvements are interesting and a welcomed change. The cleaner notifications bar and tray now show notifications with a white background. It almost looks like the Google Now Search cards layout that gets more details and more importantly, the ability to reply to messages.

Google Android N Direct Reply

Tagged as 'Direct Reply' this may seem like something borrowed from the actionable notifications on iOS, but they are not. These are a bit different as you can reply both from the lockscreen notifications area, the notifications bar and even from the heads-up notifications that appear at the top of your display. The function worked well for most apps and surprisingly even with third-party apps like WhatsApp.

Quick Settings Settings Menu Recent Menu

And while there are other interesting bits like a revamped Settings menu and revamped Quick Settings toggles, there is an all-new (old for Samsung) feature called split-screen multitasking.

Google Android N Split Screen Multitasking

To be frank, it made little sense on the smaller 5.2-inch display of the Nexus 5X , but the implementation did feel pretty much spot on. However, as of now it is buggy in more ways than one, so it is not a feature that one would download and install the Developer Beta for.

Battery Life

Thanks to 'Project Svelte' Android N managed to keep the Nexus 5X running buttery smooth. Reducing RAM usage also seems to have done wonders for the smartphone's battery life. Less (or smarter) RAM usage often leads to battery life savings, but this one kept the smartphone going for quite a bit and it is better than what you get on Android 6.0 Marshmallow (considering that we used it just on 3G networks).

This is a Developer Preview

While the fancy features may appeal to many, few were practical (like Direct Reply). But this is a Developer Preview, a beta software meant for testing. And what comes with every beta, are the bugs, and they are everywhere.

The multitasking feature is pretty much loaded with display errors and you will be frequently greeted with "App does not support split-screen" messages for third-party and even some native apps.

Google Android N Bugs

Tabs in the flipping Rolodex style recents apps menu will often go blank (shown above). Apps crash quite frequently. And while most of the essential apps worked well, gaming is not something that works well with the beta. Famous titles like Real Racing 3 crashed very frequently and at times refused to load. And even the most casual games showed plenty of stuttering. Indeed these would be fixed (including the apps themselves) in the final build, but for now if you happen to game a lot, this may be a deal breaker for you.

Conclusion

Coming to the main reason why you are reading this article, should you install it? Well, after a couple of days of testing we were pretty much done with it and finally gave up on the Developer Preview crashing apps and random glitches in third-party apps. So, for now, we would not recommend installing the Developer Preview.

Install it if you always want the latest Android OS onboard your Nexus smartphone (this is considering you are ready to deal with the bugs). For everyone else this is a pretty much a 'NO'. Unless you own two Nexus smartphones, so you can always fall back on your stable Nexus with Android Marshmallow when you need to get some serious work done.

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