Google today said that it’s readying the release of the developer preview of Android 7.1, an update to the Android Nougat mobile operating system that came out in August. The release will arrive later this month, and the final release of Android 7.1.x will come out in early December.
Android 7.1 will include support for Google’s Daydream high-quality mobile virtual reality (VR) platform. Google’s first-party Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones are the first Daydream-ready devices, but now that Google is releasing an early version of the necessary underlying software, Daydream will start becoming a reality on other mobile devices in short order.
The new OS version will also pack support for a new application programming interface (API) for app shortcuts, Google’s answer to the 3D Touch options that come up available when you press down on app icons on the home screens of Apple’s iOS devices. The API “lets you surface key actions directly in the launcher and take your users deep into your app instantly. You can create up to 5 shortcuts, either statically or dynamically,” Google vice president of engineering Dave Burke wrote in a blog post. This feature was first demonstrated on the Pixel phones as well.
Also premiered on the Pixels and coming soon to other devices: circular app icons. Now developers will have an easier way to make icons “that match the look of Pixel and other launchers,” Burke wrote.
In addition, Android 7.1 will include support for image keyboards. It will be possible for end users to send custom stickers, animated GIFs, and other content; each app will be able to tell the keyboard what types of content are supported, Burke wrote.
And 7.1 will contain a new Settings page where apps can send end users in order to “clear unused files and free up storage space,” Burke wrote.
The developer preview will contains lots of resources, including a launcher, apps with app shortcuts, and a keyboard and apps that support keyboard images, he wrote. If you’re enrolled in the Android Beta that Google introduced earlier this year, you’ll get it right away. Initially it will only work on the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C, but support for other devices, including the Pixels, will follow.
Google is working with hardware partners to bring Android 7.1 to devices “in the months ahead,” Burke wrote.