Just a random Wednesday in March, and Google releases the first Android N developer preview. The biggest new feature in this Android N developer preview is, as Google promised, multiwindow.
Multi-window – A new manifest attribute called
android:resizableActivityis available for apps targeting N and beyond. If this attribute is set to true, your activity can be launched in split-screen modes on phones and tablets. You can also specify your activity’s minimum allowable dimensions, preventing users from making the activity window smaller than that size. Lifecycle changes for multi-window are similar to switching from landscape to portrait mode: your activity can handle the configuration change itself, or it can allow the system to stop the activity and recreate it with the new dimensions. In addition, activities can also go into picture-in-picture mode on devices like TVs, and is a great feature for apps that play video; be sure to set
android:supportsPictureInPictureto true to take advantage of this.
As you can see in the video The Verge has up, the multiwindow feature is fairly straightforward, and it looks quite smooth considering it’s a beta – see the video on The Verge, or this one for a tablet view. Unlike iOS, the feature is not restricted to just certain tablets; multiwindow on Android N is available on both phones and tablets, in landscape and in portrait.
There’s a number of other new features as well, such as improvements to the power-saving Doze feature, notification grouping (finally!), direct replies to notifications, several Java 8 language features, and more. Digging a little deeper into the changes, there’s an interesting tidbit about future releases possibly bringing an end to unbound background services.
You can install the Android N developer preview on a Nexus 5X, 6, 6P, 9, 9G, Player, and the Pixel C. You can also enroll your device in Android’s new beta program, allowing you to upgrade your device using over-the-air updates, so you don’t lose all your data. This program will go live later today.