Google Updates APIs for Android 7.1 Nougat

Google recently announced that it will soon release a developer preview of Android 7.1 Nougat. The refreshed platform from Google carries over some of the fancy features from the recently-announced Pixel phones to Nexus handsets and other devices. As always, new APIs abound and you'll have to update your apps.

Here is what you need to know. 

First up, the new App Shortcuts API. Think 3D Touch on the iPhone, and you'll be in the right ballpark. Google says the App Shortcuts API will let developers surface key app actions right from the launcher. App creators can add up to five shortcuts that are static or dynamic. In other words, let users long-press your app shortcut to call up actions or data. Good stuff. 

New tools in Android Studio will let developers take advantage of the nifty circular app icons that are part of the Android 7.1 Nougat launcher. These icons debuted on the Pixel, but apparently Google hopes third-party developers will put them to use, too. Android 7.1 improves wallpaper metadata. Developers will be able to provide metadata about their wallpapers to pickers that display wallpapers as a preview, such as label, description, author, as well as the appropriate URL. 

You asked for it, you got it. One of the biggest requests from developers was added support for image keyboards. Android 7.1 will allow the native keyboard app to tie into third-party apps seamlessly so end users can search or browse for GIFs, animations, images, and stickers. All that content can then be inserted into conversations for greater degrees of self expression. Google said the associated API will be available in the support library. 

Another neat trick will give developers (and end users) more control over app data. The Storage Manager Intent function will let apps take the user directly to Settings screens to clean unused files to free up storage on the device. 

Last, new APIs will let carriers and calling applications support multi-endpoint calling options and others telephony configurations. 

Android 7.1 Nougat represents API level 25.

The preview will include a revised SDK with the new APIs, build tools, documentation, and samples. It will also package together emulators and device system images for running your apps on supported Nexus devices. Last, the preview will include a launcher and apps that support app shortcuts, and a keyboard and apps that support keyboard images.

When can you get it? Google says it will push Android 7.1 Nougat Developer Preview 1 to devs later this month. Those who are already enrolled in the preview program won't need to take any additional steps, their devices will update once the preview is released. Developers who aren't enrolled can easily add their device(s) to the program. 

The Android 7.1 Nougat Developer Preview will support the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C. Later, Android 7.1 will support the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player. 

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.