Android N Preview 3 Adds Physical Keyboard Shortcuts for Devs

If we needed any more evidence that Android N was shaping up to be one of the biggest Android releases of the past few years, here comes yet more of it. Android N is all about adding more features, no matter how small they are as well as piling on the polish to make it one of the more complete releases that we've seen of Android for a long time. This latest change in the new Android N Developer Preview 3 is something that might seem a small change to some, but a welcome addition to others. Android N now makes it easier to see what all the keyboard shortcuts are when using a physical keyboard, and it also opens up this feature to developers as well.

The whole idea of using a Bluetooth keyboard on Android is to make things a little easier, quicker and to generally get more done. One big way that people achieve this is by keeping their fingers on the keys for as long as possible, which involves using a lot of keyboard shortcuts. Now, in Android N, users can just hit hit "Alt + /" together on any connected keyboard to see a list of the keyboard shortcuts. This will be helpful for users that often connect a keyboard to their device, and it also makes this behavior consistent for future versions of Android, giving users an easily-remembered way to refresh their memories.

For developers however, this is a big deal to improve usability in their apps. There are many office apps and writing apps in the Play Store that have their own keyboard shortcuts, and while many of them offer their own custom keyboard shortcut screens, it's not the same in all apps. In Android N however, developers will be able to use the "Activity.onProvideKeyboardShortcuts()" API call which allows them to offer their own custom keyboard shortcuts. All-in-all, this is the sort of small tweak that might go unnoticed by the majority of Android users, but for those looking to use a keyboard with Android, this will be one more welcome tweak added to the laundry list of changes coming to Android N.

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Tom Dawson

Former Editor-in-Chief
For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.