Google has surely done things differently with its latest Android release — Nougat, and it will probably continue the tradition in the coming weeks. The company has today announced that it will further extend the Android Beta Program to seed Android 7.1 minor update to developers for feedback.
In somewhat odd fashion, Google took the wraps off the Android 7.1 update at the Pixel launch event, but didn’t talk about the changes in great detail. This might have been done because the company wanted to keep the audience focused on Pixels and its exclusive set of features. And the company has already confirmed that some of the best features of the software update, such as Google Assistant, Pixel launcher, etc. won’t make their way to the official global release.
Though Android 7.1 is an incremental update, you can rest assured that it will definitely bring alongwith Daydream VR support and A/B system updates to app shortcuts and image keyboard support. This update is essentially aimed towards developers and you’ll automatically receive updates over-the-air, if you’ve already signed up for the 7.0 beta cycle. The 7.1 developer preview will initially support Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C devices, but will later extend support to other OEMs and supported devices.
So, let’s dive in and take a look at all the new features that will debut with this developer preview beta update.
With Android 7.1 developer preview, Google will introduce support for its robust Daydream VR platform that’ll give developers some time to optimize their apps and test its functionality on supported devices. It is no hidden fact that the preview will include faster A/B system updates, but there a couple of new features that need our attention.
As has previously been reported by Android Police in multiple reports, Google is finally taking the Apple route and introducing app shortcuts into the mix. This will allow developers to bake-in upto five key shortcuts and surface them directly in the launcher. These shortcuts will allow the user to reach a certain function deep inside the app instantly. Example, you’ll now be able to maybe swipe or long-press the messaging icon to show the various options, such as new message, and recent contacts.
In addition, Google is also debuting some of the most-requested developers features with this build as well. The developers will now be able to expand the scope of content users access from the keyboard. This can include custom stickers, animated gifs, and much more. This is, however, not restricted to keyboard developers and can be used by app developers to instruct the keyboard of the type of content it accepts.
Android 7.1 will also lay immense focus on storage management, and allow an app to take users directly to a new Settings screen that can be used to to clear unused files and free up storage space on the device. This update also brings support for Pixel-like circular icons, that’ll allow developers to modify the look and feel of their respective launchers. It includes new APIs to support multi-endpoint calling and new telephony configuration options as well.
So, if you’re a developer or not, you can enroll to be a part of the beta program and test the latest preview releases for Android Nougat 7.1. There’s no confirmed date for the official release but we expect the same to be announced in the coming weeks, alongside the release of the developer betas.