Last week Google announced the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones running Android 7.1 Nougat. While many of its first devices’ features were mentioned during the presentation, the new version of Android itself didn’t get a proper introduction at the time.
Well, today Google has rectified that, making Android 7.1 official through its developer blog. It’s also published the list of devices getting it, and thankfully it includes some older Nexus models for which support could have ended already. But Google decided to do the right thing and not let them stay on 7.0 from now until the end of days.
We’re talking of course about the Motorola Nexus 6 and HTC Nexus 9. These will get Android 7.1 alongside the Huawei Nexus 6P, LG Nexus 5X, Pixel C, Asus Nexus Player, as well as supported Android One devices. The first older devices to see a taste of 7.1 will be the Nexus 6P, 5X, and Pixel C.
A Developer Preview of Android 7.1 is coming by the end of this month to the three, extending to the other supported devices within a few weeks. The final release is scheduled to arrive in early December. As before, if you want to receive the Developer Preview, make sure your device is enrolled in the Android Beta program.
Android 7.1 will have some features that were initially planned (and announced) by Google for the 7.0 release, such as the Daydream VR support and seamless updates. Both of these require compatible hardware, so you won’t be seeing either on older devices, just new ones shipping with Android 7.1 preinstalled.
Additionally, the newest version of Android comes with an app shortcuts API that lets developers surface important actions for their apps directly in the launcher, instantly taking their users deep into their app. This is portrayed in the screenshot to the left above, and you should think of it like a similar implementation to Apple’s quick actions when 3D Touch pressing an app icon.
Circular app icons are a thing apparently, so developers can create those to match the look of the Pixel launcher. Enhanced wallpaper metadata is also built-in, as is a Storage Manager intent which lets an app take the user straight to a new Settings screen to clear unused files and free up storage space.
Keyboards will get image support, as seen in the right screenshot above. This means you’ll be able to enter custom stickers, animated GIFs, and images straight through your keyboard of choice, once it implements this new functionality. For carriers and calling apps there will be new APIs supporting multi-endpoint calling and new telephony configuration options.