Android 7.1 Nougat is finally here now that the Google Pixel phones have launched, and it’s the best version of Android by far, offering all kinds of updates over Android Marshmallow. Here’s the 14 coolest new features in Android 7.1 Nougat, along with how and why you should update to Nougat as soon as it’s available for your mobile.
What is Android Nougat?
Google’s Android OS can be found on the large majority of smartphones these days, including massive 2016 mobiles like the Samsung Galaxy S7, Sony Xperia XZ, HTC 10 and the OnePlus 3.
Read next: Everything you need to know about Android
Every year, Google updates Android to a new version, identified with another sweet-sounding name. Recently we’ve had KitKat, Lollipop and Marshmallow, and now Google has officially released the latest version for 2016, known as Android Nougat.
This delivers loads of new features for your Android smartphone and will be available to download for free, as long as your mobile is reasonably recent. Check out our guide to when your phone should be upgraded to Nougat, and how to upgrade Android on your mobile.
Here’s our pick of the best new features in Android Nougat, which weren’t found in Marshmallow.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: No more hanging around for ages while your phone powers up
Rebooting our old Android mobiles seems to take bloody ages, but Android Nougat is good to go less than half a minute after pushing the power button. Of course, this might be stretched out depending on which handset you’re using, as some manufacturers like to kickstart their own special background services each time.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: No more intrusive search bars
The ugly, pervasive, desktop-filling Google search bar is now a goner, replaced entirely by Google Now. Drag right from your main desktop and you hit the Google Now page, which houses the search bar as well as all of your chosen content. Alternatively, on Pixel phones you can call up the Assistant with a quick ‘OK Google’.
Read next: The best Android phones right now
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Pull-up apps tray
Android’s apps tray (where shortcuts to all of your installed apps rest) used to be called up with a tap, but with Nougat you can simply drag your finger from the base of the screen instead. It’s not a massive change, but it’s super fast and effective.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Quick feature toggles
On Android Marshmallow, the notifications tab needed either a massive tug or two separate pulls to reveal the shortcuts panel. But now, you get a handy row of shortcuts to toggle the likes of WiFi and screen rotation with just a single nudge.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Night Light
This blue light filter makes your mobile’s display warmer and easy on the eye, for a comfortable viewing experience at night. You also get less distracting glare, so your partner isn’t disturbed when you’re piddling around on Facebook at 2am.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Proper multitasking
Some Android phones in the past have had split-screen multi-tasking added by their manufacturers, but now Android Nougat comes with this feature built in as standard. That means you can run two apps on-screen at the same time, as long as your handset is up to it.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: 3D Touch-style mini menus
In Android Nougat, if you press an app icon instead of simply tapping it, you’ll see a mini menu spring up on screen. This gives you options specific to that app; for instance, the YouTube app offers you instant access to your subscribed channels and the search function, for less taps and waiting around.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Easy-to-navigate settings
Android’s settings menu has also been overhauled now. Not only do you get more functionality packed inside Nougat’s settings, but you can also quickly jump from section to section with a single tap, instead of having to back right out of a menu. Nice.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Easy storage management
In the Storage section of the Android Nougat settings menu, you now get a handy ‘Free up space’ option. This allows you to quickly empty all of the junk and crap that’s piled up on your phone, to get some valuable storage freed for more apps and photos.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Greatly improved notifications
The notifications bar itself has been overhauled too and now it’s a serious time saver. You can read a full email or message right there and then, before choosing to delete or respond, even when you have several messages waiting. And at long last you can simply clear all of your waiting notifications with a single tap. Hallelujah.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Useful gesture support
Android Nougat’s ‘Moves’ gestures allow you to quickly open up the camera app, flip between the front and rear camera and even drag down the notifications bar with a swipe of the fingerprint sensor – handy if you’re rocking a massive mobile like the Pixel XL.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Unlock your phone with your voice
You can now use the OK Google voice command to unlock your phone, rather than typing in a PIN or pushing your finger to the sensor. This is particularly useful when your Android handset is resting on a desk or table – or if you’re busy cooking and don’t want to get gunk all over your shiny mobile.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Better battery life
Android Nougat extends the Doze feature first found on Marshmallow, so your phone’s power usage is constantly monitored as you roam around. Any battery-sucking apps are kept in check, to ensure you make it home with plenty of charge left.
Best Android Nougat 7.1 features: Boredom killers
Tell Pixel’s Assistant that you’re bored and the mobile AI can tickle your fancy with a game or a ‘fun fact’.
Those facts, which include gems such as November was the 9th month of the Roman calendar, are usually as much fun as your slightly creepy uncle at Christmas. But the quiz games are a good time killer while you wait for the bus. The maths one in particular will make you realise how dumb you’ve become since you left school.