Google has released the fourth developer preview of Android N, the second to last preview before it rolls out to the general public sometime in the third quarter.
With this preview Google has finalised all of the APIs and delivered the final SDK for Android N. Developers can now test apps against all new features in this version of the mobile platform. It also clears the way for developers to publish apps in Google Play that target API 24, the corresponding API level to Android N.
Feature-wise, not much has changed in this preview. Google highlights that it has now removed support for Launcher Shortcuts, the Android equivalent to the iPhone's 3D Touch pressure sensitive display feature. Google hasn't said why it dropped the feature, but announced in May it would defer it for a future release of Android.
With the ability to publish apps for Android N, developers now have a chance to test apps with the public on older versions of Android as well as the latest preview version. That also means it will be easier consumers in the Android Beta program to test third-party apps and experience how they use Android N features.
Android N introduces dozens of changes that fans will welcome, including the ability to open two apps in a split screen mode, and an overhaul to notifications.
One nifty change to notifications is the new 'Direct Reply' feature that allows for replies from messages from within the notification panel. This is relevant to chat apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, which have been testing the feature. Android Police reported yesterday that Twitter also begun testing this feature for direct messages.
Android N will also address the painfully slow process of optimising apps after installing a system update. Android N introduces "quick path to app install", which cuts the time from several minutes to seconds.
It also introduces new optimisations to the battery performance and memory usage. Android builds on Android 6.0's Doze battery saver, automatically applying restrictions to apps when the device isn't being used.
Google has also planted a little Easter egg in this preview release as a reminder that it's still toying with the official name for Android N. Google invited the public to provide suggestions and at its developer conference jokingly suggested 'Namey McNameface'. That name now appears on a big 'N' after pressing the N logo in the About Phone screen in settings.