Yesterday, Google announced that the second Android N Developer Preview was available via OTA update as well as factory images. I got the update late yesterday by being enrolled in the Beta Program, and got a chance to explore what’s new. In short, there are going to be some significant improvements to stock Android that custom ROMs have had for quite some time.
Probably the most notable change in this release is that the folder icons for the launcher have changed dramatically.
There has been some debate on whether this new style is a good thing. Personally, I think it is going to take a little getting used to, but overall, it isn’t too bad of a change.
The recents screen finally got a Clear All button which will instantly close all background apps. This was a much requested feature and many custom ROMs already have it. Also new on this screen is an icon that displays above the “No Recent Items” text when there aren’t any background apps open.
Work Profile Security
For those of you who use Google Apps for Work, this release brings some handy new features for Work profiles. Users can now separate their device screen lock pattern, pin, or password from their work profile. On top of that, you can also add your finger prints as well, however, I was not able to get the reader on my 6P to detect my finger. Probably just a bug.
As soon as you turn your screen off, the work profile becomes locked. Before opening any apps, you will be presented with a confirmation page where you can put in your pin/password, or draw your pattern.
As previously announced, the second preview brings support for Unicode 9 which slightly changes already existing emojis, and adds some more human like ones as well.
The camera app got some design tweaks and rearrangements too. For devices that support slow motion video, it is now its own category in the slide out drawer.
Separate Lock Screen/Home Screen Wallpapers
Another much requested feature now allows you to set wallpapers for either your lock screen or your home screen. This seems to be some sort of server side switch as some users aren’t able to get the dialog that allows you to choose.
Hopefully the numerous wallpaper apps on the Play Store will integrate this feature so that users have greater control of their custom wallpapers.
The first preview release introduced a new feature called Data Saver. It basically restricts background app usage to cut down on data. The second preview now allows you to whitelist any app you don’t want affected by the Data Saver. This is handy if you still want to get Hangouts messages and G+ notifications, but nothing else. The icon has also changed slightly from Preview 1.
It looks like the final release of Android N is going to be pretty jam-packed full of new features. Some have been requested for a while, and some are just new.
What are your thoughts on these new features? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.