At the keynote at Google's I/O developer conference today, the firm announced Android N Developer Preview 3, a build that would be of "beta quality" and be made available later on. The company made good on its promise, as the builds are now available.
Here's what's new:
VR Mode for Android
Android N adds platform support and optimizations for a new VR Mode to let developers build high quality mobile VR experiences for users. There are a number of performance enhancements, including access to an exclusive CPU core for VR apps. Within your apps, you can take advantage of intelligent head-tracking, and stereo notifications that work for VR. Most importantly, Android N provides for very low latency graphics.
For more information, see the Google VR SDK for Android.
Sustained performance mode
Android N includes optional support for sustained performance mode, enabling OEMs to provide hints on device performance capabilities for long running applications. App developers can then use these hints to tune applications for a predictable, consistent level of device performance over long periods of time. App developers can try out this new API in the developer preview on Nexus 6P devices only.
Starting with version 51 in Android N, WebView will run web content in a separate sandboxed process when the developer option "Multiprocess WebView" is enabled. The WebView team is looking for feedback on compatibility and runtime performance in N before enabling multiprocess WebView in a future version of Android. In this version, regressions in startup time, total memory usage and software rendering performance are expected.
If you find unexpected issues in multiprocess mode we’d like to hear about them. Please get in touch with the WebView team by filing a bug.
Keyboard Shortcuts helper
Android N lets users press Meta+/ to trigger a Keyboard Shortcuts screen that displays all shortcuts available both from the system and from the app in focus. Developers can add their own shortcuts or trigger the Shortcuts screen from their apps. See Keyboard Shortcuts helper for details.
DP3 introduces a new FrameMetrics API that allows an app to monitor its UI rendering performance by exposing a streaming pubsub API to transfer frame timing info for the application’s current window. FrameMetricsListener can be used to measure interaction-level UI performance in production with higher granularity and without the need for a USB connection.
Google has also published a list of API changes, as well as known issues, which you can find here.
If you're interested in trying out the Preview, you can get it on the following devices:
- Nexus 5X
- Nexus 6
- Nexus 6P
- Nexus 9 (Wi-Fi only and LTE models)
- Nexus Player
- Pixel C
- General Mobile 4G (Android One)
There are two ways to get Android N on your device. One is to sign up for the Android Beta program. Once you enroll your device, you'll get an OTA update. If you choose to disenroll, you'll get an OTA update to roll back.
The other way to do it is to flash the image; however, if you want to roll back, you'll have to flash Marshmallow too. You can find the images right here.
This build is the third of five Developer Previews that Google will deliver. Preview 4 will deliver the final APIs, official SDK, and the ability to upload apps for Android N to the Play Store. Preview 5 promises "near-final system images", followed by the final release, which will be this summer.