Google will be making the developer preview of its latest Android operating system available to developers later this month.
Version 7.1 of Android’s Nougat OS will be available through the beta scheme and offer a number of updates to those creating apps and working with the platform.
Android’s VP of engineering, Dave Burke, explained in a blog post: “Android 7.1 is an incremental release, but it’s always important to make sure your apps look and run great — especially as devices start to reach consumers,” he said in the post.
Most notably is support for Daydream, Google’s new VR platform and handset. While there’s only a limited number of handsets the Daydream viewer will work with, it will be one of the first glimpses inside the system.
Elsewhere in the 7.1 preview is a shortcut API that allows apps to be quickly opened from the launcher, support for circular app icons (which were first revealed in the new Pixel phones), and new metadata for live wallpapers.
There’s also support for image keyboards meaning users can send GIFs and stickers through keyboards – an app will be able to tell the keyboard what type of content is supported, and there’s the addition that allows a button to be added to an app that takes users to system settings to easily clear unused files.
“For carriers and calling apps, the platform includes new APIs to support multi-endpoint calling and new telephony configuration options,” Google said.
What is missing from the preview may also be telling. There’s no support or access to the code for a staple of Google’s Pixel phones and Home product: its artificial intelligence-powered Assistant.
The developer preview is being offered for just a limited number of phones and tablets. The Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C devices will all be the first to benefit from the preview. Other devices that support Nougat will be included in the preview when Android 7.1.x is released in December. At that point, the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Player, Android One devices and the Pixel and Pixel XL devices will have the updates.
As for consumers, Google said it is working to bring Android 7.1 to supported phones “over the months ahead”.
Android Nougat (7.0) started rolling out to supported Nexus devices in August. The biggest additions to the new operating system include multi-tasking apps, new emoji, a quick settings menu, file-based encryption and a boosted battery life.
How to join the Android Beta programme
To get the latest Android releases before they are rolled out to everyone it is possible to join the Beta programme. The scheme lets users with supported devices receive downloads of the latest “pre-release” versions of Android.
As these aren’t complete and fully tested versions of the operating system, there may be bugs in the code. Errors and defects can “affect normal functioning of your device”.
To become part of the beta programme a Google account and supported device is needed. The Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C and General Mobile 4G (Android One) are all supported.
One a user has signed-up through the beta page and accessed it on a mobile phone, over-the-air updates will be pushed to devices.
“You will receive a preview update every four to six weeks until the public launch,” Google added. It can take up to 24 hours to receive the latest download once a user has signed-up to the scheme.
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