If you’ve been test driving the Android N preview, get ready for a new batch of features and some badly needed bug fixes.
Google detailed several new changes on the Android Developers Blog, most notably support for the Vulkan 3D graphics API, launcher shortcuts for apps, several bug fixes, and Emoji Unicode 9 support.
Why this matters: The most welcome part of the update is the promise of bug fixes. As Google warned, Android N is quite unstable. This update specifically fixes issues connecting to hidden Wi-Fi networks, multiwindow pauses, direct reply closing an open activity, and other problems reported through the public issue tracker.
Support for the Vulkan 3D rendering engine is squarely targeted at developers, but the benefits will eventually roll down to all by boosting performance with graphics-intensive applications. The Vulkan Graphics API is now available for testing with the new Android N build. It will help developers craft games and other graphics-heavy applications that use less battery and system resources.
The new Launcher Shortcuts feature could give a nice little boost to your productivity once it’s in use. Developers will be able to create shortcuts within an app to jump directly into another specific task, reducing the time it takes a user to move from one activity to another. Of course, we’ll have to see the feature in action to know how much functionality it brings to Android N.
What’s an update without fresh Emoji?
Google appears to finally be doing away with the weird blob people. Credit: Android Developers Blog
As part of an effort to make Android’s emoji less, well, weird, it appears that Google is doing away with the blob people and taking a more humanoid tack. We’ll see how these turn out as we get closer to the final version of Android N.
If you’re already enrolled in the Android Beta Program, you’ll get an over-the-air update soon. Otherwise, you can flash it manually. Keep in mind that you’ll need a Nexus 6P, 6, 5X, 9, Pixel C, or General Mobile 4G (Android One) to test it out.
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