Google made available the latest version of its Android platform, although it will be some time before most customers see the OS (if at all).
Android 7.0 – also known as Android Nougat – is available to users of Google’s Nexus devices (although not Nexus 5 from 2013 and its predecessors). LG will also be the first to ship a smartphone using the platform (its anticipated V20), and Google is believed to be planning new Nexus devices.
But when it comes to existing owners of devices, upgrades are something of a mixed bag. While some vendors bring new versions of Android to their smartphones swiftly (Motorola, for example), others such as Samsung and Huawei have a mixed track record at best.
According to figures from Google, just 15.2 per cent of devices using its Play services in the week to 1 August 2016 were running the latest version of Android (Android 6.0 Marshmallow), meaning it was less popular than the earlier Jelly Bean (which dates from 2012), KitKat and Lollipop variants.
Indeed, much of the penetration of a new Android platform is dependent on new device sales rather than updates to smartphones already in the hands of customers, which explains the lag between new versions reaching the market, take up, and the slow erosion of share for earlier platforms.
Reports earlier this year suggested that Google was looking at ways to encourage vendors to support earlier upgrades, including making public a listing of the times taken. In addition to making new features available to users, there are also security benefits to upgrading.
The search giant said it took “a different approach” to building the platform, including giving early access to developers.
Features available to users include personalisation options such as customisable quick settings, improved multitasking, and improved battery management features. Also added is support for Vulkan, an advanced 3D rendering API, and Daydream, Google’s platform for mobile virtual reality.
Android’s security capabilities have also been beefed-up.
In addition, Google is publishing the Android 7.0 source code to the Android Open Source Project.