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Google today launched the second release of the Android N developer preview. You can start testing your apps against this release by downloading the new preview from developer.android.com/preview. Here are the factory images: Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus 9 LTE, General Mobile 4G, and Pixel C.

Google launched the first Android N developer preview just over a month ago. In past years, Google has unveiled the next Android version and released the accompanying developer preview at its I/O developer conference, but with Android N, the company is starting much earlier — I/O 2016 is scheduled for May 18 to May 20.

The Android team has been working hard over the last month; three major features have been added in this second preview:

  • Vulkan is a new 3D rendering API geared at providing explicit, low-overhead GPU control to developers. It also offers a significant boost in performance for draw-call heavy applications — some synthetic benchmarks see as much as 10 times the draw-call throughput on a single core as compared to OpenGL ES, according to Google. More details about Vulkan are available here.
  • Launcher shortcuts: Apps can now define three to five shortcuts that users can expose in the launcher. These shortcuts contain an Intent into specific points within your app (like sending a message to your best friend, navigating home in a mapping app, or playing the next episode of a TV show in a media app).
  • Emoji Unicode 9 support: This design “moves away from our generic look in favor of a more human-looking design.” Google is asking for keyboard and messaging developers to start incorporating these emoji in their apps. The update also introduces support for skin tone variations and Unicode 9 glyphs.

android_n_emoji

As you might expect, the new preview also includes a few API changes (check out the diff reports). Last but not least, you can expect a slew of bug fixes.

Developers may want to check the known issues. If you find new bugs, Google asks that you report them to the N Developer Preview issue tracker or the N preview community.

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