While the Pixel phones are due to begin shipping later this month and come with Android 7.1 Nougat for the software, other devices which are scheduled to get it, such as the currently compatible Nexus devices that have Android 7.0 software, are still waiting on official releases. Having said that, those devices will get the chance to see what Android 7.1 Nougat is like before Google pushes out the stable software, as they have just announced earlier today that the Developer Preview for Android 7.1 is on its way. Users shouldn't be expecting any sweeping changes with this build of the software, but that doesn't mean there won't be any changes at all, so here's what users will be able to look forward to when the developer preview arrives on compatible devices.
First and foremost, or at least what will likely get much of the attention are the app shortcuts. While these will likely be ingrained to the Google apps once the developer preview drops, or when the stable software build is pushed out, other apps will be able to make use of the App Shortcuts API as well, and naturally Google has used the announcement of the dev preview to recommend that developers prepare their apps by adding such functionality. With App Shortcuts, users will be able to easily and efficiently navigate to specific actions like sending a new message or entering a particular conversation with a contact they have already been communicating with. You can see an example of this in the first gallery image below. While App Shortcuts are nothing new to Android, as you can get a hold of this feature in launchers such as Nova, it's the first time that such a feature will be available in stock Android. Google states that these shortcuts can be created either statically or dynamically, and that developers can add up to 5 shortcut actions in total.
Beyond the native app shortcuts, one less functional but instantly more visible change will be the inclusion of the new circular icons that are used for some of the apps. These are already visible in many of the images of the Pixel, and they can be seen below as well. While some of the apps will have circular icons, it is also worth noting that not all apps will, as Android 7.1 Nougat merely introduces circular app icon support, meaning the ability to use circular icons are there, but they don't necessarily have to be used. There will be a few other changes included in the software as well. Google is including enhanced wallpaper metadata. This will allow the ability for users to see various points of metadata for a particular wallpaper like the author and description of the wallpaper if there is one, so long as the picker that is displaying the wallpaper is showing it in a preview. The last couple of changes are image keyboard support, enabling users to add more content types right from the keyboard into conversations and comments and the like, with apps telling the user whether or not they support specific types of content, like GIF images or stickers. Last but not least will be storage manager intent. If an app supports this function, users can be taken to a new settings screen where they have the ability to clear unused files, giving them some of their potentially much needed storage space back.