Google Android N moves to beta

At its I/O Conference, Google laid out expansive mobile plans

Google Android N moves to beta

Android N, the next version of Google's mobile OS, went to a beta release candidate stage today, with the general release expected this summer.

At its I/O conference in Silicon Valley on Wednesday morning, Google showcased Android N Developer Preview 3 capabilities like automatic updates that will done in the background as well as a JIT (just in time) compiler for quicker performance and app installations.

The Vulkan 3D graphics API boosts graphics performance, and Android N also will feature better multitasking and security capabilities.

Google also previewed Android Instant Apps, which runs modular apps without installing the entire application. For example, a user could engage in a Buzzfeed video session by installing only the piece of the app needed at the time. Instant Apps will be compatible back to the Android Jelly Bean release.

Version 2.0 of the Android Wear platform was previewed as well. "Over the past two years, we've learned what people want and don't want in a watch," Google's David Singleton said. The watch face can now show data from any app, and the platform features handwriting capabilities and a keyboard powered by Google's machine learning technology.

Google also emphasized its Daydream platform, for enabling high-quality virtual reality on smartphones. Daydream is due this fall and will be part of Android N. Vendors like Samsung, LG and Alcatel will make Daydream-ready phones, and partners including the New York Times will offer virtual reality apps compliant with Daydream.

Google's Firebase mobile development platform was updated with a mobile analytics capability that enables grouping of audiences based on specific criteria and taking actions such as notifications. Analytics works with both Android and iOS. For crash reporting, crashes are seen as they are happening, with notifications sent about fixes. The upgrade is available today.