Earlier this week, Google unveiled the next major release of Android, dubbed simply as “Android N” right now, it’s been released as a Developer Preview, just as Lollipop and Marshmallow were before it. On the face of things, this is a similar update to that of Marshmallow, which bought with it lots of smaller additions and refinements. That includes the new multi-window feature as well as a revamping of how notifications are handled. Under-the-hood however, there’s a lot more going on that you might first realize. Android N will be the first to take up Java 8, and there are some other changes to the ART runtime that means we’ll finally be rid of the “Optimizing Apps” stage after upgrading our devices.
Back when Android 4.4 KitKat was announced, Google introduced an early version of the ART runtime, a change from the then-current Dalvik runtime. Runtimes are packages that run the code of an app to bring it to life when you click its icon (for lack of a more technical explanation). Dalvik ran this code there and then, but ART changed all of this and did the opposite, compiling code before an app was loaded. This meant that the APK packages for apps and the install times got bigger and longer, but Android N is changing this. “Quick Path” is included with Android N and it’s essentially a speedier ART runtime that, in Google’s words will allow apps to “install in just a matter of seconds”. It also means that there won’t be any need for the optimizing apps step when performing a system update.
This will be a welcome change to the monotony of watching a colorful wheel move by as we wait for our devices to update, and it should also make installing apps and games from the Play Store a lot quicker, too. Thanks to this speedier version of ART, large games should be able to install a lot quicker than before and all-in-all, it should mean a further speed boost for Android in general, as well as more stability. Android N is in Developer Preview right now, but is said to be “final” sometime this Summer.