Android 7.0 Nougat is now out, and while only owners of recent Nexus device such as the Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C, or Nexus 9 tablet currently get the benefit of this release, it's clear that Google is moving in the right direction.
All this while iOS 10 -- still in the beta stage -- feels like it's in the doldrums.
Nougat seems to have been a smooth release for Google, with no reports of any widespread issues, which you'd expect from the fact that Google keeps a tight grip over the Nexus hardware ecosystem. However, given that Apple has an equally tight control over its hardware ecosystem, and yet still manages to fumble, I think a problem-free release is noteworthy.
Nougat also contains some rather nice features that I'm sure iOS users would like to see come to the iPhone and iPad. In particular, three features stand out:
- The ability to run two apps side-by-side - The fact that users can't do this on the iPhone (especially the big Plus model) really staggers me.
- Improved Doze Mode - The handset is smart enough to know when it's being stored in a pocket or bag and will go into low-power mode automatically, allowing for better battery life.
- Customizable Quick Settings - While Apple seems to acknowledge that the iOS 9 Control Center is lacking, and is trying to tweak it in iOS 10, it's still a mess. Google's answer is to allow Android users to choose Quick Settings tray, so you have near instant access to the settings you need.
With these Nougat features, it's clear that Google is focusing on usability and battery efficiency, which are things that users are asking for.
While I'm not going to talk too much about iOS 10 here, I wrote about it a month ago here, and while the operating system has refined over more betas, I still find myself frustrated by the odd usability and user interface choices that Apple has made. It's hard to ignore the fact that Nougat seems like a more solid, user-focused platform, while even the latest builds of iOS 10 feel like Apple is fumbling about trying to cram more random features into the platform.
It's just a shame that most Android users won't see this release for months, if at all.
Apple, you're playing catch-up.
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