5 missing features we wish were in Android 7.0 Nougat

Android 7.0 Nougat is beginning its slow rollout to Android devices around the world. Most phones will take time to update, but Nexus owners can already play with Google’s latest and greatest OS. Nougat brings some cool new features like split-screen multitasking, bundled notifications, and Daydream VR. Even with all the improvements, there are still some nagging deficiencies in the Android feature set. Here are the five most glaring omissions from Android 7.0.

Restart option

Come on, Google. You’re just being stubborn.

Here’s an easy one to start, Google. Please, just put a restart option in the power menu. Stock Android devices only have “power off” as an option when you long-press the power button. Nine times out of then when you pull up that menu, you’re not shutting your phone off for an extended period. What you’re really doing is restarting.

Maybe Google wants to pretend that Android never needs to be restarted like a PC, but in the real world things go wrong and a restart is the fastest way to fix it. Nearly every phone maker has added a restart option to the power menu because it just makes sense. This would be an easy fix that made Android more user-friendly.

Night mode

A UI to save your eyes in the dark didn’t make the cut in Android 7.0.

The lack of night mode options in Android 7.0 is perhaps the most galling omission because Google keeps teasing us with them. The developer previews for Android M and N both had night mode options, but they were removed prior to the final builds. Android’s system interface is almost completely white, so open that in a dark room and it’s RIP your retinas. The technology certainly exists to make a dark themed version of that interface. The previews even had a scheduling option that would toggle night mode on at sundown. As an added bonus, a proper system interface night theme might encourage developers to make use of the existing (and underutilized) night theme support to match the system interface.

The Android N developer preview also gave us a glimpse of screen filtering support for use in the evenings. Similar to apps like Twilight, this feature tints the screen red to filter out blue wavelength light. Research suggests that blue light can negatively affect your sleep patterns if you are exposed to it before bed. However, screen overlays from third-party apps aren’t as effective as handling the filter at the system level. This would be a nice feature if Google can work out the kinks in a future version of Android.

Better app backup management

No, you can’t tap on any of them.

Android gained support for app data backups in Marshmallow, but they haven’t improved in Nougat. When you install an app, Google is supposed to restore saved data from it. However, that doesn’t always happen. Apps only back up every day or two when your phone is plugged into power, as well. The process is so opaque that you have no hope of fixing any issues that pop up. Some more options for power users would be much appreciated here, Google.

The only user-facing hint of the app backup feature is in your Drive app settings, which lists the apps on your device. It doesn’t show the other apps you have backed up, and you can’t do anything with the ones that are shown—it’s just a list. Ideally, it would be nice to be able to manually trigger a backup or restore from this menu. At least that way you won’t have to wonder if your backed up recently before switching phones or uninstalling an app.

Floating windows

Split-screen is a step in the right direction, but maybe Google can do better.

Android 7.0 finally adds multi-window functionality, but it’s limited to a split-screen view with two apps. That’s really all that makes sense on smaller phones. On tablets and large phones, it would be nice to have the option for a true floating window. Samsung does on its Galaxy devices, though app support is lacking there.

The so-called “freeform window” feature is included in Android 7.0, but it’s limited to Android TV where it’s intended for keeping video playing in a small window while the user does other things on the device. Even limiting this to video apps like Netflix on phones and tablets would be great. This won’t be as easy to implement as split-screen, but we can dream.

Easier app uninstalls

Uninstalling one app at a time is a pain.

Google has made installing and updating apps in bulk easy with improvements to the Play Store on both Android and the web. Getting rid of all those apps you so cheerfully installed is a tedious pain in the butt, though. You can find the apps in your system settings, app drawer, or in the Play Store to uninstall them. No matter how you do it, uninstalling apps must be one one at a time. If you like to try a lot of apps, it can take quite a while to clear out the junk.

A way to bulk uninstall apps would be a vast improvement. Even bringing back the remote uninstalls that vanished from the web Play Store in the redesign about two years back could make the process less annoying.

We’re really nitpicking at this point. These are all things that Android should have, but Nougat is still a nice improvement with plenty of new features. We can only hope Google addresses some of this next time around.

IDG Insider


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