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Android Nougat 7.1 first look review

Android 7.1 Nougat is finally here, packing loads of cool new features. Here's some of the best bits so far and how Android 7.1 Nougat compares to last year’s Android 6.0 Marshmallow, in our hands-on first-look review.

Read next: Android 7.1 Nougat: When will my phone get it?

New Android Nougat features: Instant apps

At Google's 2016 I/O developer conference we first glimpsed a new concept called Instant Apps. It's actually a feature that'll be supported by devices running as far back as Android 4.1, but the arrival of Nougat will likely serve as the launchpad for the new feature, which will let users access portions of apps without having to install them.

New Android Nougat features: Multi-window support

If you’re a fan of larger-screened phones like the Nexus 6P or an Android tablet owner, this one’s for you. Whilst manufacturers like Samsung have taken the time to implement their own forms of split-screen multitasking or multi-window support, Google is finally baking the feature right into Android.

Once you've got a few open apps, pressing and holding on the task switcher whilst in an app will let you pick a secondary option to split alongside it, and you can resize the screen to give one app more screen real-estate over another.

New Android Nougat features: Native number blocking

Another feature that for the longest time has had users looking to third-parties for a solution, number blocking will soon be part of the vanilla Android experience. The number blocking functionality sounds pretty robust, preventing calls and messages from blocked numbers getting though, but what's more, your block list will survive through restarts and resets of your phone, so even if you wipe your handset, it'll keep tabs on the blocked numbers even when it's being set up as new.

New Android Nougat features: VR support

Until I/O 2016, Daydream was simply the name of a native screen saver built into Android, but at the event the company repurposed the name as the overarching brand for Android's new VR platform. Right now Daydream is a set of software and hardware standards for creating virtual reality experiences powered by smartphones.

We've already heard that companies like Samsung and Huawei will be releasing Daydream-ready handsets sometime in 2016, but knowing that the underpinnings are already baked into Android Nougat is going to make the experience that much sweeter.

New Android Nougat features: (Even) better battery life

Doze was a feature introduced in Android 6.0 Marshmallow designed to kerb excessive power consumption when your phone laid idle, but with the update to 7.0, Doze now works on the go, restricting CPU and networking behaviour even when you're out and about. This means users should see even greater gains in battery longevity from current devices and a better power/performance balance from future ones too.

New Android Nougat features: Everything else...

There are a heap more goodies woven into Android 7.1 Nougat, such as faster device start-up, customisable quick settings in the notifications drawer, quick replies, keyboard themes, Vulkan graphics support and more emojis, who doesn’t love emojis, but we'll give you the full hands-on review once it formally launches.

Read next: How to update your Android phone to Android 7.0 Nougat

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