This year in Google I/O 2016, one of the most important account to me was openly declaring that now anyone with a nexus device in their hand now can enjoy Android N Developer Preview on their main devices. This was huge, because Google has never done this before. Till 2015, Developer Preview was meant only for those users who has more than one nexus devices lying around beside them and even one of them act weirdly or throws a lot of errors, the person will not face any issue because he already has another device as his daily driver.
But this year in Google I/O 2016, Google has completely changed that mindset. To be very honest, when Google first said on stage that now anyone can use Android N Developer Preview on their main device, I initially thought I heard wrong. Then after looking into the Android N’s website I realize, he was telling the truth. Now as my Nexus 6P is my daily driver, I couldn’t take risk of putting an unstable OS on top of it knowing it might hamper my daily activity. If you follow me on twitter, then you have already seen that I’ve installed Android N on my Nexus 6P but it wasn’t such an easy decision to make.
— Saumya Majumder (@iSaumya) May 21, 2016
Even after Google officially said that Android N Developer Preview 3 is stable enough to use on a main device, I was still skeptical about installing it on my daily driver thinking it might ruin my Android experience with the rain of bugs. Also another setback was that if you wish to leave the Android N Developer Preview community, Google will send you the latest marshmallow (Android 6.0.1) release on your phone but it will wipe your phone clean at the time of installation. So you will lose all of your data again. Moreover, you have to go with the backup and restore process again. So after giving a lot of thoughts into it, I decided to install Android N Developer Preview 3 on my nexus 6p and started using it as my daily driver. In this article I’m going to share my feedback about using Android N Developer Preview as my daily operating system in hope that it will help other nexus owners to decide whether or not they should be installing a Developer Preview of Android will be good for them.
First 24 – 48 hours after installation of Android N
The reason I’ve broken my experience with Android N Developer Preview with time frame is because my experience with it has been vastly changed overtime as I used it more. You will see what I’m talking about very soon.
“Android is updating” message
One of the most important under the hood improvement Google has talked about in I/O is using the JIT (Just in Time) compiler in Android and getting rid of the annoying “Android is updating” screen. So, while I was installing Android N on my device, I was not expecting to see that annoying “Android is updating apps” screen on my phone as I was sure that it is gone for good.
But even though I’ve received my update over OTA and install it normally without doing any crazy stuffs, after the Android N Developer Preview 3 installation was done, I was greeted with that annoying “Android is updating” screen. I was really confused to see that, because it shouldn’t be there. So, I checked my build number in hope I might have downloaded the DP 2 on my phone instead of DP 3. But it wasn’t a mistake. After my phone is on, I clearly saw that my build number is NPD35K – which denotes Android N Developer Preview 3.
So the question is why did this screen showed to me. The only possible explanation I could come up with is that as I’ve installed Android N for the first time on my device and earlier it was on marshmallow, that might be the reason for this. May be those who already have installed Android N DP 1 or DP 2, might not see the “Android is updating” screen anymore.
Quite a few Force Closes
Just after booting my Nexus 6P for the first time with Android N, the first thing that it showed me on the screen was – the clock application has been forcibly closed and asked me to send a feedback. This was a pretty bad first impression for me. But I did send the feedback report to Google to improve Android N.
There were also a few other issues that I’ve encountered with after booting up my device for the first time with Android N. At the getting started page, Google asked me to register my fingerprints for nexus imprint. So I did it like any other user and Google has said that it has been added successfully.
Then after few hours I’ve rebooted my device and went to the settings to add my home as a smart unlock place. Now this time when I went to the settings, under security tab, I saw that no fingerprint has been added on my nexus imprint – which was completely wired. So I tried to re-add my fingerprint, and at this time the setting apps crashed and asked for a force close. But after restarting my settings app I was able to add my fingerprints and smart unlock and the setting app never added for force close once.
After installing Android N, the first 24 – 48 hours was sluggish in many places. Especially in the recent apps section, surfing web over chrome – it just doesn’t feel as smooth as it was in Android Marshmallow. There was a lot of frame drops in the animation also, mostly in the quick settings animation. Sometimes just to get rid of this sluggishness I had to clear the data and cache of chrome browser. Now a quick note here, I use the stable version of chrome on my device, not the dev or beta version, so all the experience I had with chrome on Android N was with the stable version of chrome.
There was also some sluggishness on the recent app section. The first 24 – 48 hours after installing Android N, every time I’ve opened the recent apps section to go back to using some other app I used a few moments ago, I always felt that there was some animation drop happening every I scroll though.
After 72 hours of installation of Android N
Here is the crazy part, after 72 hours and restarting my device for almost 3 – 4 times, most of these issues were gone for good. Now I do not see any force close issues anymore. The UI has become extremely smooth too. No more frame drops in recent apps section. Everything is started flying exactly the way I have expected while installing Android N.
But still there are a few things here and there which sometime shows up. Here is a list of the small things (no error or force close or UI glitch) that I’ve seen at the time of using Android N even after using it for 72 hours. Now please note, most of these are happening is because not every app is updated yet to be 100% compatible with Android N’s code and compilation method. So I hope very soon Google and other Android developers will start updating the code to take all the cool benefits of Android N.
Chrome white screen
I’ve seen this issue quite a few times in past days while using Android N. The issue was let’s say you are surfing the web and visited quite a few sites. Now you hit the back button of your phone to do a few other things with it. Now after a few moments you open up the chrome again. This time instead of seeing the Google search and your recently visited pages, you will see nothing but a white screen. On the top right side, you will see the new tab section and the three dot for more option, nothing else.
The only way to get rid of this is if you click on the new tab 1⃣ button, you will start seeing everything. The Google search, recently visited pages etc. This error is so random that I really can’t give you a proper path to regenerate this same problem. It happens randomly.
Higher RAM consumption than Marshmallow
Even though Android N comes with a far better compiler than Android Marshmallow and the code is more optimized now, but still the average RAM consumption on Android N is higher than in Android Marshmallow stable build. On Nexus 6P, which comes with a 3GB LPDDR4 1600MHz RAM, the average RAM consumption on Android Marshmallow was always stayed between 1.5GB to 1.64GB, but with Android N Developer Preview 3, the average RAM consumption has always stayed between 1.7GB to 2.1GB with the same app installed.
I think this is something Google is going to fix in the future release of Android N Developer Previews and in the final version of Android N, because if they don’t then I’m really worried about the future of Android N, especially in the low-end and mid end devices. Most low to mid end devices comes with LPDDR3 RAM with a max clock speed of 800MHz, which is much slower than that what Nexus 6P has. So if it consumes this much memory in Nexus 6P, how much memory is it going to consume on those low quality hardware devices? That is why I’ve very hopeful that Google will fix this soon in the next release of Android N.
Not so improved Doze mode
When Google first debuted Android N for the first time, they said that the Doze Mode is going to be even more aggressive on Android N to save even more battery. But while using it on daily basis, I didn’t see much improvement on battery life. Overall the battery life was increased by 10 – 20% max, so nothing fancy here. Though I’m not quite sure if the Doze Mode that comes with Android N Developer Preview 3 is the final version of it or not. If it is then I must say that you won’t see a huge improvement on this from Android Marshmallow. Now I must say that the results I’ve shared here is gathered after using my Nexus 6P as a heavy to moderate use. Every day I do phone calls at least for 1.5 hrs to 2 hr, play games for at least 30 to 45 mins, browsing the web for at least 2 hrs and my phone always stayed connected to the internet, 90% of the time over WiFi and 10% over 4G LTE network. So, if you a light user and your phone mostly stayed on the desk, you might get a different result.
Minor Sluggishness here and there
The only sluggishness that I’ve seen is after rebooting your device if you go to settings and try to scroll down immediately, it stutters a bit before actually starts scrolling. But this will happen only once after you reboot your device. After that you won’t see this happen again.
UI Overlay issues
I’ve found a wired overlay issue with Android N Developer Preview. Like for example if you go to the Google Play Store and click on install or uninstall any app, it gives you a pop-up either for accepting permission or verify the uninstallation process. Now at the time of showing this popup, there is a black transparent overlay that shows behind the pop-up. Now I’ve seen that many times this black overlay only shows till the half of the screen and the only way to fix this issue is to reboot your device. This is a very wired issue and I have no idea what is causing this, a bug in Android N OS itself or due to the apps code are note yet updated with Android N code. If I have to guess, I will say this is a core Android UI bug, because this problem didn’t happened on just a hand few apps, instead it happened on every app I’ve used at that period of time, regardless whether the app has been designed by Google or a 3rd party developer. So, there is a high chance that this is an Android core UI bug and Google might fix this in the upcoming release on Android N.
Overall I must say that I’m pretty happy with the Android N Developer Preview and they are really stable enough to use on a daily device, especially from Developer Preview 3. So, if you are thinking about installing Android N on your nexus daily driver, go ahead and install them. You might face some little issues with it at the initial stage, I mean the first 24 – 48 hours, but after that on the long run you won’t see any sluggishness of issues whatsoever. At least I didn’t find any. So I will give a big 👍 towards using the Android N Developer Preview in a daily device.
So, as I said above, I’m quite happy with the Android N Developer Preview. But what about you? Are you also interested to use Android N? Will you consider putting Android N Developer Preview on your daily device or better wait for the final release? If you are already using Android N Developer Preview, did you find any other issues besides the one I’ve mentioned above? Let me know in the comment section below, I would love to hear from you guys and continue this conversation.
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