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Google's Android 7.0 Nougat is now available ... if you have the right device

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
Google Android 7.0 Nougat logo
Google’s Android 7.0 Nougat is available today

Google is finally rolling out the latest version of the world’s most popular mobile operating system: Android 7.0 Nougat. Available Monday as an update for Google’s Nexus devices, Android Nougat includes more than 250 improvements to the company’s OS.

Nougat’s biggest features include updates to the Quick Settings menu, new emojis, multitasking, battery management improvements and the release of Google’s DayDream mobile virtual reality platform.

The subtlest, but most welcome, change to Android N is its new Quick Settings menu. Rather than having to swipe down on the notifications shade twice to get access to your quick settings like Wi-Fi, GPS and the flashlight, you now only have to swipe down once. That seems like a small change, but it’s certainly welcome considering Android handset makers like Samsung, LG and HTC have been including the feature for some time now.

the new android nougat quick settings menu
Android Nougat’s new quick settings menu

You’ll also now be able to reply directly to messages from the notifications shade without having to open any corresponding apps. Because if you’re going to hit someone with a snappy comeback, you want to make sure you send it before you forget it.

And since it seems like 99.99% of the population has given up on the written word in favor of emojis anyway, Google is bringing a whole slew of updates for its mini works of art to Nougat. Some 72 new emojis will make their Android debut when the OS is released, including a more ethnically diverse cast of male and female characters for your texts and Hangouts messages.

Android Nougat's new emojis
Android Nougat’s new emojis

Multitasking is also coming to Android 7.0 in the form of split-screen apps. That means you’ll be able to do things like watch your favorite YouTube streamer and send out texts messages or browse Chrome and check Gmail from the same screen. While this feature isn’t likely to be too useful on most smartphones, it will certainly come in handy on larger tablets.

Battery life in Android Nougat also gets an update via a new feature that automatically puts your phone into low-power mode when it detects that it’s in your pocket or bag while on the move.

Android Nougat's Splitscreen view
Android Nougat gets a splitscreen option

And then there’s Google’s ambitious DayDream virtual reality platform. The software will work with Google’s upcoming virtual reality headset and work with apps and games from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. The software will also integrate with Google’s own Google Play Movies, Google Photos and YouTube.

Here’s where we get to bad news. Like every version of Android, Nougat will only be begin rolling out as an over-the-air update for Google’s Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player and Pixel C devices as soon as the company flips the switch today. Since the update will be seeded slowly it could take a few weeks until everyone with a Nexus device can download it.

Unfortunately, if you’ve got an Android device made by one of the many companies that modify the operating system for their own needs, such as Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony, you’re going to have to wait for them to release their own version of Nougat. And that can take quite some time. Then you’ll have to wait even longer for your carrier to approve those companies’ versions of Android. After all of that, you’ll finally get your hands on Nougat. So yeah, it might be a while.

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Email Dan Howley at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.