Android N preview breaks out beyond Google's Nexus - to Sony's Xperia Z3

Making the Android N Developer Preview available on some Sony smartphones is part of Google's move to test the OS more widely beyond Nexus before its official release.

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For Google, the Sony Xperia Z3 move is a chance to refine Android N before its first public release.

Image: Sony

Google and Sony have teamed up to release the Android N Developer Preview on the Xperia Z3.

Until now, preview editions of Android have officially been a Nexus-only affair. But now the preview is being made available to the Xperia Z3, which joins the Nexus 5X, 6, 6P, Nexus Player, the Pixel C tablet and Android One General Mobile 4G.

The Xperia Z3 is a slightly dated device, released by Sony in 2014 running on Android 4.4 KitKat. The new offer to install the Android N Preview comes just a month after Sony released the Android Marshmallow update.

Sony isn't particularly fast at delivering the latest version of Android, but it's also been willing to experiment with different versions of the OS. Last year it used the Xperia Z3 to test a version of Android 5.1 Lollipop that was stripped of most of Sony's customizations.

According to Sony, it's been working with Google on getting Android N to the Xperia Z3 to help developers prepare their apps for Android N.

The preview is only available for two of five Xperia Z3 variants. These are the D6603 and D6653. Rather than downloading the Android N developer preview from Google, Xperia Z3 owners will need to download it from Sony's website and flash the preview to their device.

There is no option to enrol Xperia Z3 devices in the Google's Android N beta program, which otherwise allows Nexus devices to receive updates over the air.

Some of the Android N features developers can test include a new multitasking feature that automatically resizes apps for the screen to allow them to run side by side, bundled notifications, in-notification replies, and Android N's Doze power-saving feature.

For Google, it's a chance to expand the variety of potential bugs that can be discovered before the first public release of Android N.

Developers testing Android N on the Xperia Z3 will be able to file bugs and feature requests alongside developers with Google's other devices, although Sony encourages them to flag that they're using an Xperia Z3.

Google hints that the same offer may come to other non-Nexus devices too.

"We're continuing to work toward giving you more options for early testing and development on N Developer Preview," Google notes in post on Google+ from its Android Developers account.

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