Five things you should look forward to in Android N

Google has finally let us know what the ‘N’ in Android N stands for. And this time they decided to crowdsource the name. And no, it’s not Neyyappam or Nankhatai. The ‘N’ in Android stands for Nougat, that chewy, sticky dessert.

Nougat is a sweet made from sugar or honey, nuts, and egg white.

Now, nougat isn’t as mainstream as say KitKat or Ice Cream Sandwich or Marshmallow, but it does have its fans. I have an old relationship with it. As a kid, I would pop into my mouth the moment I didn’t want to answer inane questions such as “Do you like your teacher?” or “Recite a poem for us”. While such nougats are long gone, the closest one can have over the counter is a Snickers bar.

But Google chose Nougat over Neyyappam, the deep-fried concoction from God’s Own Country. This despite the fact that we’ve had reports that among the names being considered were Nankhatai and Neyyappam, and that Neyyappam was leading!

Every time we talk of crowdsourcing, we expect to win by sheer numbers. And of course, doesn’t our own “Sundi” head Google? Neyyappam was a winner even before you finished saying it. Yes, India is a land of over a billion people, but we forgot to read the fine print: Google takes the final call on the name, despite whichever name getting the maximum ‘votes’. And while Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google, that in no way affects what the next version of Android should be named. So while we might think it’s a loss of face for Indian fans, we should spare a thought for the millions of non-Indians who also use the world’s most popular mobile operating system. And if one goes by sheer numbers, shouldn’t all phones run only Chinese versions of software?

Dear fellow Indians, do spare a thought too for the Western tongue, which still struggles to properly pronounce the first name of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (why, Microsoft Word insists on autocorrecting his last name to “Nutella”, but that’s another story). Don’t you think our favourite dessert was spared the ignominy of having its name ‘murdered’ by a foreign accent? Come to think of it, the few Indian names foreigners don’t struggle over are Bose, Modi and Nehru, and, no, I can’t think of a dessert bearing these names.

Now that you’ve got over the naming shame, let’s see what makes this version so special. For starters, it supports using two apps side by side on the screen, much like what Samsung has been offering on its phones the past few years, called the multi-window mode. So you can open the browser window and a notepad window and copy stuff from the browser to the notepad.

Another nifty feature is the Data Saver mode, helpful for all of us with runaway data usage. While this feature is available on some phones, Nougat has this feature baked in. One can decide on which apps can access data in the background and should go a long way in cutting down on phone bills. Also, one glance at the new Settings menu will let us know the amount of data consumed.

A new notification menu will let us read and reply to messages from within notifications. This comes in very handy if you’re, like me, habitually late in replying to messages. Also, one can, like in some handsets, specify which notifications to receive.

Fans of Virtual Reality (VR) will love the fact that Daydream, Google’s VR platform, comes bundled with the operating system. So if you have VR glasses already, there’s no need for a separate app. One hopes this won’t lead to a space-hungry OS because of this.

The new version of Android will also have improvements to the Doze mode, which debuted on Marshmallow. In Nougat, Doze mode would kick in every time the screen switches off. Basically, since the apps would be in suspend mode, this should go a long way in lengthening a phone’s battery life.

Now that’s a lot to chew on. But Android Nougat is still two months away, so there’s no rush.

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Five things you should look forward to in Android N

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