I’ve had Nougat for a week by the time this post will publish, but I’ve got some first impressions based on my first few days of use. For reference, I use a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, and it was upgraded from Marshmallow to 7.0. Other relevant info – I’m using Evie Launcher*.
And yes, I realize that I’m a year late and Android O is already in the works, to release sometime this year. Blame Samsung.
I really, really like the way this looks. Everything looks sleek and well-designed. If this makes any sense to you, it looks less “cartoon-y”, something which Samsung has been gradually moving away from since I started with the Galaxy S3. Starting with Lollipop, they’ve been moving toward a more “stock” look with their notification / quick launch drawer. I like it.
Past the visual elements, my phone somehow feels snappier. I don’t really think it actually is any faster, but it feels like it is, which is important. I feel like there’s something operating behind the scenes (maybe faster animation speeds?) that is making the difference. I’m not speaking from a technological angle here – I don’t think they’ve done anything on the software side to affect RAM for example – but the software seems…optimized. That’s the best term I can think of for it.
Battery life seems to be improved. It’s hard for me to tell for sure, because I’m not using my phone the way I normally do right now. Sometimes I’m actually using it less than I normally do. The first day, I used it a LOT because I was playing around with it, and the battery life suffered accordingly. Last Thursday though, I noticed that my battery life was only at 64% or so near the end of my work day, so that’s impressive. I think some of the battery saving measures behind the scenes have been improved for Nougat.
Some other cool things have opened up for me, now that I have Nougat. Previously, only Samsung’s Messages app allowed you to type out replies from the notification window. Nougat adds this ability, so now I can do that with an app like Allo. It’s pretty handy if you don’t want to leave whatever screen you’re on. The other neat thing that Samsung added was some more utility to their Always On Display function on the S7 edge.
If they stopped at just adding more icon notifications I would have been happy; but you can also double-tap the app icon and it will unlock the screen and open the app with the notification. That’s really cool and very useful! To give you a quick comparison, on Marshmallow, only Samsung’s messages app and phone icons would show on Always On Display, and you couldn’t open the apps from there.
This is definitely a very cool step forward for Android. I don’t think that this update is revolutionary, but it’s the kind of update that would breathe new life into a phone (for example, if I added this to my S6 edge if it still worked – that would be amazing). I don’t know how many phones will actually be getting it, as manufacturers tend to drop older phones from support even though they are capable of taking new operating system upgrades.
If you were on the fence of upgrading (or have the option of flashing a custom ROM with Nougat on it), you should definitely do it. There aren’t any noticeable bugs that I can see and it runs really well. It can only get better. Can’t wait until I get Android O in 2018!
* I’ve actually switched back to Nova Launcher, because they added “Dynamic” notification badges, which are really cool and you should look into.
Coming up on Thursday: more Android talk focusing on Waze.