Google has released the second Developer Preview of Android N

Last month, Google shocked us all by releasing the Android N Developer Preview two months ahead of its developer conference, Google I/O.

Today, a new build of the Android N Developer Preview is now available. This is the second of five previews that Google has planned before the final release.

There's quite a bit of new stuff in Developer Preview 2, despite Google's roadmap listing this as an incremental update. Next month's update is listed as the same, but the fourth Preview is listed as "final APIs and official SDK, Play publishing", which means that developers should be able to submit apps that are targeted at the new OS in June.

Here's what's new:

  • Vulkan: Vulkan is a new 3D rendering API which we’ve helped to develop as a member of Khronos, geared at providing explicit, low-overhead GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) control to developers and offers a significant boost in performance for draw-call heavy applications. Vulkan’s reduction of CPU overhead allows some synthetic benchmarks to see as much as 10 times the draw-call throughput on a single core as compared to OpenGL ES. Combined with a threading-friendly API design which allows multiple cores to be used in parallel with high efficiency, this offers a significant boost in performance for draw-call heavy applications. With Android N, we’ve made Vulkan a part of the platform; you can try it out on supported devices running Developer Preview 2. Read more here.

  • Launcher shortcuts: Now, apps can define shortcuts which users can expose in the launcher to help them perform actions quicker. These shortcuts contain an Intent into specific points within your app (like sending a message to your best friend, navigating home in a mapping app, or playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app).

    An application can publish shortcuts with ShortcutManager.setDynamicShortcuts(List) andShortcutManager.addDynamicShortcut(ShortcutInfo), and launchers can be expected to show 3-5 shortcuts for a given app.

  • Emoji Unicode 9 support: We are introducing a new emoji design for people emoji that moves away from our generic look in favor of a more human-looking design. If you’re a keyboard or messaging app developer, you should start incorporating these emoji into your apps. The update also introduces support for skin tone variations and Unicode 9 glyphs, like the bacon, selfie and face palm. You can dynamically check for the new emoji characters using Paint.hasGlyph().

    New human emoji

    New activity emoji
  • API changes: This update includes API changes as we continue to refine features such as multi-window support (you can now specify a separate minimum height and minimum width for an activity), notifications, and others. For details, take a look at the diff reports available in the downloadable API reference package.

  • Bug fixes: We’ve resolved a number of issues throughout the system, including these fixes for issues that you’ve reported through the public issue tracker. Please continue to let us know what you find and follow along with the known issues here.

Anyone with a General Mobile 4G, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, 6, 6P, 9, or Player can install the Developer Preview; however, it is not recommended unless you're a developer. Also, Developer Preview 2 for the Nexus Player won't be available for a few days.

The easiest way to get the Preview is to enroll your device in Google's beta program. You can also flash the image yourself, if you have the courage.

While we still don't know what the 'N' will stand for, it does appear that the version number will be Android 7.0, thanks to the documentation of the Samsung MultiWindow SDK.

Source: Android Developers Blog

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