Google I/O 2016: Android N to feature VR mode, Vulkan graphics API, improved productivity and more

Google I/O 2016 had a hoard of announcements of which one of the most awaited ones were around Android N.

Google I/O 2016 had a hoard of announcements of which one of the most awaited ones were around Android N. The next iteration of Android, which has yet to get a name, was announced on stage with as many as 250 new features on board. But the major features that were showcased on stage were pertaining to improved performance, productivity and security features. Also Android N will come with a VR mode with the Daydream platform.

Dave Burke, the vice president of engineering, announced that Android N public beta would be available on primary devices such as the Nexus phone and tablets as well as on Pixel C from the Android website.

Performance improvements

Google I/O 2016: Android N to feature VR mode, Vulkan graphics API, improved productivity and more

Android N will support the Vulkan graphics API for mobile, which helps to optimise the GPU component of your chipset to give a better gaming performance. Apart from this, Android N will come with Just in Time compiler to ensure a 75 percent boost in app installations and 50 percent reduction in compilation code. According to Burke, these runtime improvements would significantly boost the battery life on Android devices.

On the productivity front

Productivity improvements were showcased, a lot of which we have already seen on third party Android skins. Starting off with the Recents menu, instead of getting an endless list of opened apps you will now only get the last 7 opened apps to check. There is finally a Clear All button on the top left hand corner in the Recents menu, in case you want to close all the apps. Quick Switch feature will let you access your last used app by double tapping the recents screen.

Multi-window modes will also be seen on Android N on phones and tablets as well as on TV. While the phones and tablets will get the split-screen functionality, the Android TV will get the picture-in-picture mode. The split screen mode can be activated on phones and tablets by long pressing on the Recents button and pulling down the second app you would want to use.

As for notifications, Burke mentioned how most of the notifications are pertaining to messages. So Android N will now let you reply directly from the notification drop down, instead of opening the app and responding. You can also select which notification you want to see or block from the notification shade itself. Unicode 9 emojis will natively be a part of Android N as well.

Android N to be more secure

Security was next on the agenda with Android N offering file based encryption, media framework hardening and seamless Android updates. There will also be a Google Play Security Testing, which is an app security improvement program to ensure no malware is downloaded from the Play Store.

Daydream VR platform on Android N

Finally, the big Android N announcement pertained to virtual reality. Android N will come with a native support for VR. In fact Google has announced Daydream which is a platform for high quality mobile VR experiences built on top of Android N. There are three main aspects to Daydream - correct smartphone specifications, correct headsets and the compatible apps.

Google Daydream VR Virtual Reality Android N Google IO 2016 (2)

Burke announced that a lot of the major smartphone makers are already making smartphones which are Daydream ready. They will comprise higher performance sensors to reduce the latency between head movements and the display on the VR. A reference design for the Daydream headset and controller were also showcased. Finally, Google has partnered with a lot of content providers such as The New York Times, IMAX, Hulu and so on to provide VR ready content that can be enjoyed on Daydream smartphones and headsets. Google is also working with game companies such as EA, MinorityVR, mDreams and more to make VR ready games for the Daydream platform as well. DayDream will arrive this fall.

Check out our live blog to know about all the major announcements at Google I/O 2016, as they happened.

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