The first Android N dev preview dropped last week, and since then, we’ve been digging in to the new operating system to find out what’s new. We’ve already covered the biggest changes, but here’s a list of 14 slightly less obvious and hidden ones.
For the first bunch, you’ll need to activate the ‘System UI Tuner’ option in the settings menu. That means first activating developer mode. If you haven’t done so already, head to Settings>About Phone and tap the ‘Build Number’ multiple times until it says ‘congrats you’re now a developer’.
Once you have developer mode enabled, drop down the quick settings menu from any screen then press and hold the settings cog at the top of the screen for a few seconds. It will start spinning. When you let go, it’ll tell you that you have System UI Tuner active. Once active, you’ll find System UI Tuner right near the bottom of the main settings list, just below ‘Developer Options’.
Open settings, go to System UI Tuner and try some of these.
BATTERY PERCENTAGE While you could have the battery percentage show in Android Marshmallow, Android N gives you much more control over it. Go to System UI Tuner>Status Bar and hit ‘Battery’. You can select to have the indicator on all the time, or have it not show at all as well as the default, which is having it only show when plugged in to a charger.
TIME DISPLAY Similarly (also in Status Bar), under ‘Time’ you’ll find the option to show hours, minutes and seconds in the status bar, or have the clock not show at all, as well as the default regular time format.
DARK MODE I sort of hinted at this in my overview, but there’s now a system-wide dark mode which you activate by going to System UI Tuner, Color and Appearance then selecting ‘Night Mode’. If you switch it on, it turns everything dark, but also adds an orange/yellow tint, but you can switch the tint off, giving a much cleaner dark mode. What’s more, if you make sure the ‘turn on automatically’ toggle is switched off, it’ll stay dark constantly, and not go white again the next morning.
SCREEN CALIBRATION On a similar topic, you can now calibrate the red, green, and blue levels of the display by hitting ‘calibrate’ under the System UI Tuner>Color and Appearance menu.
SPLIT-SCREEN MODE GESTURE LAUNCH We showed you split-screen activation in the last video, but, if you head in to System UI tuner you can activate another method of launching split-screen mode. If you toggle ‘Enable Split Screen swipe-up gesture’, you’ll be able to launch it just by swiping up on the recent apps icon.
LANDSCAPE HOMESCREEN Sticking with Split-Screen mode, an interesting feature is that when it’s active, you can turn the phone horizontal, and your home screen and its icons all rotate accordingly. So, if you happen to hit the home button to hide the split-screen apps, you’ll see a new landscape home screen.
DRAG AND DROP TEXT IN SPLIT-SCREEN Still Split-Screen related, you can also drag and drop text between apps, but the options are incredibly limited. Not many apps will let you drag selected text, but I managed to do it from the Play Store and drag it on to a text input field in the Hangouts app. Just highlight a selection of text as normal, then press and hold to move it to the other open app on screen.
NOTIFICATION PRIORITY Stepping away from System UI tuner, and on to notifications. In Android N, if you see a drop-down notification card, you can swipe right or left and a settings cog is revealed on either side. Tapping it lets you adjust the priority of notifications from that app, ranging from ‘block’ to ‘show me on screen regardless of where I am, and what I’m doing’ (paraphrased).
EMERGENCY INFORMATION During setup there’s an option to input emergency details, but you can also create these details within the settings menu by heading to Settings>Users>Emergency Info. Here you input your name and address, any allergies or medical conditions, any medication you’re on and select a number of emergency contacts. If someone finds your phone, but can’t unlock it, they can tap the ‘emergency’ label and select to view your details, potentially helping you and getting in touch with your loved ones/friends.
MORE FONT SIZE OPTIONS Unlike Marshmallow, you don’t just get a ‘Large Font’ toggle switch to make text bigger on the phone. In Android N you get a slider with a number of different font sizes to suit. It’s no longer a case of normal, or super huge. Head to Settings>Accessibility>Font Size.
CANCEL DIRECT DOWNLOADS When downloading content like app APK’s from APK Mirror you can now cancel the download directly from the notification card if you drag it down from the top of the screen.
MULTIPLE SIMULTANEOUS SYSTEM LANGUAGES Android N also lets you have multiple languages running on the device, all at once. So if you’re bilingual, or multilingual, default apps like Search will know that you speak a number of languages. If it knows you understand specific languages it can offer you results in all of them, and won’t ask you if you want a page translated.
PIN SHARE OPTIONS There’s another really useful feature which lets you pin share options to the top of the share menu. First open up the share menu from any app, then press and hold a specific app or function (like copy to clipboard) then hit ‘pin’ from the following options. This way you can ensure that your most used sharing choices are at the top of the pile.
DO NOT DISTURB IS FIXED (for now) Lastly, with Do Not Disturb you can finally gain back control (and sanity) by digging in to the settings for Do Not Disturb and applying automatic rules. If you toggle ‘‘Alarm can override at end time” option, your do not disturb period will either end at the end time or when the alarm goes off, which ever comes first.
As with any developer preview, especially early ones, many of these features are likely to change in between now and when the public release lands. We’ll keep an eye out for anything new along the way, but these are certainly a good start.
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