UX Enhancements in Android N

At Google IO16’s keynote today, VP of Engineering (Android) Dave Burke announced some improvements that are coming to Android N, including some very nice UX enhancements.

Recent Apps Screen

According to their user research, 99% of the time users only select apps within their last 7 uses.

In Android N, Google will automatically remove apps in the list that you haven’t used in a while, making it easier to find the app that you’re looking for.

recent activities.gif

Based on popular demand, they’ve also added in a clear all button at the top right corner.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 3.45.10 PM

Quick Switch

You can now switch between the current app you’re using and the previous app you were in by double clicking on the recents button from anywhere.


In the example above, the user flips from the call she’s currently in to the calendar app she was using by double tapping on the recents button from the bottom right.

Multi Window

In Android N, Google redesigned their windows management system and introduces the ability to display more than one app at a time through two new windowing modes:

Split Screen

Split screen is designed for tablets and phones, and is very simple to use.

In the example below, the user is watching a video on Youtube. He longtaps on the recents button to launch multi window, and select Google Keep from there.

split screen

He can now update his shopping list for ingredients while he’s watching the video.

Picture in Picture

Picture in picture is designed for Android TV and is a great way to let you keep watching a content piece while you perform another task.

live tv

While watching a live TV program on retro gaming, a user can do a search for PacMan in the Play Store and install it while the live content continues running in the background.


Today, over half of the notifications shown originate from messaging applications. Google is making some nice changes to optimize for this use case.

Direct Reply

There is now a direct reply feature which quickly lets you reply to a message from the notification alert. User do not need to launch the app to fire off the quick response, which can be a real time saver.

direct reply

Added Control

N gives user more control over notifications, you can now long-tap a notification to change its visibility.


For example, you can block notifications from a given app or set them to show only silently. So now users can choose to only see notifications are important for them.

Support for New Emoji Standard

Android is the first mobile platform to support the new unicode 9 emoji standard, and with this the support for more human looking glyphs and skin tones.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.30.41 PM

Unicode 9 also brings 72 new emoji glyphs, including this set of women in professional roles.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.31.07 PM

You can watch the full live stream of the keynote here and view the schedule of other designed related sessions on Google Design’s Medium blog.

I’ll also be live tweeting more #io16 news on Twitter.

PS. Google has not decided what to call their next version of Android yet and is crowdsourcing inspirations from the Internet. Submit a name for Android N here.

Hint: It probably won’t be Nutella McNutellaface.

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