Android 7 Nougat release date, name and features: Nougat grows to 13% of all Android devices

The latest OS sees market share grow, but Android O is expected to launch imminently

Android Nougat name

Strictly speaking, the 2016 release of Google's mobile OS is Android 7.0, however it is more commonly known as Android Nougat.

The Nougat codename is part of a longstanding tradition within Google of naming each successive version of the Android OS after a "dessert" (we're not sure that Kit Kats, jelly beans or Nougat really count, but sweet treats doesn't quite have the same ring to it).

The naming cycle is also alphabetical, running through Cupcake, Doughnut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Kit Kat, Marshmallow and now, Nougat.

As for 2017 - Oreo? Oatmeal cookie? Orange sorbet? Well, we've got nearly a whole year of guessing to figure that one out!

Android Nougat price

Good news for everyone: Android N is available as a free upgrade (when it does actually become available).

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This is now pretty much standard procedure for mobile operating systems - iOS and Windows Phone are also free upgrades.

Android Nougat top features

Google has introduced a multitude of new features in Android Nougat. These are four of the most important:

Multiple window support

Android Nougat will sport a new feature, dubbed Multi-Window, which allows multiple windows on a single display.

Although Android-based devices from some manufacturers, such as LG and Huawei, have supported multi-app display, this is the first time the attribute, called android:resizableActivity, has been made available natively in Android.

Multi-Window is available for apps targeting Nougat and beyond and, when enabled, users can put apps into a split-screen mode - either horizontal or vertical, depending on the device's orientation.

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Multi-Window is about more than just split-screen however. It also supports what is known as "picture-in-picture" mode (PiP). This lets one app behave as a free-floating window on top of everything else.

There is also something known as Freeform mode, but quite what this is or how it works, remarkably, hasn't yet been revealed.

Notifications

There are a couple of enhancements to notifications. First, Android Nougat allows users to receive incoming message notifications quickly and conveniently, without leaving the notification shade. There is also a feature called Bundled Notifications. This, as you can work out, groups notifications from the same app together - for example individual messages from a messaging app. Grouped notifications can be expanded into individual notifications by using a two-finger gesture or tapping the new expansion button.

Efficiency

Android Nougat hopes to eke out more life from your device's battery when the screen is turned off with Doze, a feature first introduced in Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

In Marshmallow, Doze saves battery when a device is stationary, such as when it is lying on a table, but that was the only scenario in which it worked. In Android Nougat, Doze also works while the device is in motion.

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"Any time the screen is off for a period of time and the device is unplugged, Doze applies a subset of the familiar CPU and network restrictions to apps. This means users can save battery even when carrying their devices in their pockets," Google explained in its developer notes.

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"A short time after the screen turns off while the device is on battery, Doze restricts network access and defers jobs and syncs. During brief maintenance windows, applications are allowed network access and any of their deferred jobs/syncs are executed. Turning the screen on or plugging in the device brings the device out of Doze."

Improved Java 8 support

Android Nougat brings Java 8 language features to the OS. The latest update means developers can build Java 8 language features into their apps, including lambdas and more.

This is said to reduce "boilerplate" code. For example, lambdas can replace anonymous inner classes when providing event listeners. Some Java 8 language features - like default and static methods, streams, and functional interfaces - are also now available on Nougat and above.

Android Nougat in the enterprise

Historically, some businesses have shied away from supporting Android, citing both security and mobile device management (MDM) concerns.

On the security side, Android is consistently the mobile operating system targeted most frequently by cybercriminals. This is partly down to users being able to download apps from stores other than Google Play - although even a walled garden like Apple has created isn't 100 per cent secure - and partly because of the staggered releases of patches and updates across the Android ecosystem (see the availability section for more details).

The MDM concern is linked to the ecosystem issue. Supporting dozens of devices running different versions of an operating system, even if it is the same operating system, is time consuming. Even if a company were to issue a suite of the same model phones across the business, the security concerns stated above still come into play.

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With both of these issues, combines with the historically slow pace of Android OS updates, it will likely be some time before Android 7.0 Nougat makes waves in the business space - if it ever does at all.

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