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New Android N version adds launcher shortcuts and better emoji

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Android N

Google has rolled out a new developer preview version of Android N, and it brings a couple of interesting new features.

The first Android N developer preview launched a little over a month ago, giving those with a little technical knowhow a glimpse at what Google has in store for Android users. Well, Nexus and Motorola users, at least.

Now the second Android N developer preview is rolling out. What's more, if you have a fairly recent Nexus device - so a Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, or Pixel C - you should be able to install it through a normal settings menu update.

The most interesting new feature in Developer Preview 2 is launcher shortcuts. These let apps create custom icons that provide shortcuts to specific functions within the app.

So, for example, you won't have to go into the main page of your messaging app when you want to send a new message to your best friend. A single tap of a launcher shortcut will take you straight there.

Also new to Android N is the Vulkan support, which provides an API for the powerful 3D rendering engine. Google says that this will provide "a significant boost in performance for draw-call heavy applications". In other words, gaming performance will rock.

We've already seen what Vulkan can do in the super-slick gaming performance of the Samsung Galaxy S7, so it's good news that the rest of the Android crowd can join the party.

Related: What is Vulkan? Inside the future of gaming

The last big change in Android N Developer Preview 2 is new Emoji Unicode 9 support. Google has redesigned its emoji to give them a more human look, and much clearer meaning.

Otherwise, the new Android N preview is all about the usual API tweaks and bug fixes. You can check it out now, but be warned that it's not in the ideal state to be your day-to-day mobile OS just yet.

Have you tried Android N out yet? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Carlos

April 14, 2016, 2:41 pm

Funny how they "innovate" by copying Microsoft Metro functionalities after everybody crushed it. (Launcher Shortcuts = Pin to Start)

chaosdefinesorder

April 14, 2016, 3:08 pm

3rd party Android launchers have had launcher shortcuts to specific activities for longer than windows 8 has existed!

.Monkey

April 16, 2016, 12:05 pm

vista*

chaosdefinesorder

April 17, 2016, 12:57 pm

that's not the same thing at all; Vista's "pin to start" just holds that program at the top of the Start menu, opening fully each time. The Android equivalent is simply placing the app shortcut on the homescreen from the app drawer.

Activities are specific sections WITHIN the app that can be linked to directly. For example, a link to the Battery Usage screen of settings rather than just the Settings app, or even a link directly to add a new wireless network straight from the homescreen.

You can do this with some Windows programs using "/directory/program.exe --target" with a shortcut, but that's a rather manual process!

The Metro version Carlos refers to above is things like pinning the weather for a specific city as a Live Tile rather than the Weather app itself.

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