Close up of white nougat with almonds

The newest Android operating system Nougat has launched—and if you currently have or are developing an Android mobile app, it’s got a number of new features you’ll want to capitalize on.

When mobile users update their Android operating systems, new features improve user experience with things like better functionality, data-saving measures, and longer battery life. But new operating systems also include behavioral updates geared toward developers—changes that could affect (and improve) the way your app itself functions. Many are easy for a skilled Android developer to update with just a few changes to your app’s existing code.

So, what does the Nougat 7.0 update mean for your app? What new features in Nougat should you incorporate? And how will the new OS affect your existing apps? Here are a few things to know about Nougat.

Users can multitask with two apps open at once.

Multi-window lets users run two apps at a time, which could be an interesting opportunity for cross-app marketing and partnerships. Multi-window lets users run two either side-by-side or stacked, with the ability to minimize the size of each window. Drag-and-drop functionality lets users move items from your app to another app, taking multi-window a step further.

If you’re thinking about updating your app to include this feature, you’ll need to be sure to specify things like minimum dimensions so your app isn’t compromised when it’s scaled down. Or, you can disable this altogether so your app is only ever full-screen.

Notifications are better, easier to use, and more customizable.

Developers can take advantage of new notification templates and the ability to customize things like headers and actions within the notification, thanks to two new APIs.

Enable Direct Reply for quicker replies.

Another notification-centric boost is the ability to reply directly to a notification from a messaging app. Remember when iOS 8 released Quick Reply so users could respond to iMessages within the notification window—without leaving the app they were in? This is a similar feature, but it’s not limited to Hangouts—other real-time messaging apps will be able to leverage it, too.

App performance, updates, battery life, and storage space get a boost from a new JIT compiler.

This OS comes with a new just-in-time (JIT) compiler, a part of what Android is calling “profile-guided compilation.” This compiles frequently used app methods and caches them so the app runs faster and uses up less RAM. Apps are constantly improved as their code is profiled and compiled, and app update times are noticeably reduced (and security updates are automatic).

Save more battery life with an even better Doze mode.

6.0 gave Android developers the ability to update their apps with the Doze mode, which saved battery life when a device could detect it wasn’t being used. For that to work, the device had to be stationary, but the new Doze update changes that. Devices can go into Doze mode even when on the go—the screen just has to be turned off.

Update your app to Doze, but note certain ways it could affect your app’s performance when it’s running in the background, especially if it requires the alarm function or frequent network connectivity.

Have a gaming app? Better rendering is here with Vulkan.

For Nexus devices that support it at this time, Nougat offers the new Vulkan API, giving access to Vulkan’s excellent graphics rendering and performance.

Go international with locale support.

Your app can now tailor content to your user based on their language preferences.

Better security with file-based encryption.

Numerous patches have bolstered the already improved security features of Nougat, including software updates that can happen behind the scenes, automatically; file-based encryption; and, Direct Boot. Direct Boot is a feature that uses file-based encryption to let apps run securely on the device (in a limited fashion) before a user has even unlocked their device. Developers can flag components in an app to be encrypted and thus accessible by the device when in lock mode.

Key attestation is another new feature of 7.0 that protects key pairs stored on a device, an important component of encryption that can provide even more confidence if your app handles sensitive information.

Users can maximize data with Data Saver mode—but your app might feel the pinch.

This feature helps users further stretch their data plans—a hot mobile commodity. But what does it mean for your app if a device user enables the Data Saver mode? Because it helps to decrease data usage with things like lower image quality, limited background data use, and caching, your app’s performance could be affected. Be sure to update your app so it’s monitoring user preferences (e.g., if a user enables Data Saver mode to meter data use at the end of their billing cycle and doesn’t whitelist your app) and use ConnectivityManager to let your app retrieve certain settings and preferences.

Note: As with any Android operating system update, Nougat may not be available on every device—especially older devices. This may mean that you will want to maintain versions of your app that run on older OS’s, which may require more work to maintain updates, work out bugs, etc.

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