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Dial ā€˜Nā€™ for NativeScript and Android N!

March 18, 2016 — by Jen Looper

The recent announcement of Android’s new operating system, codenamed ‘N’, instantly made our NativeScript team prick up their ears. Of course, ‘N’ is supported on Android; doesn’t ‘N’ stand for NativeScript? Fun fact, Android’s letter codenames translate to future releases, so Android M became Marshmallow. Will Android N become Nougat or Nutella? Time will only tell, but we feel it might be the latter.
Whatever they decide to call it, it’s clear that N will include some delicious enhancements to the Android ecosystem, and NativeScript will support them all from day zero.
As it turns out, Android N, which you can see previewed here, is available now to download and test on your devices. The developer preview will run from March 9th until its final release in Q3 of this year and is currently available to run on either an emulator or a limited range of devices. To start learning about N on your current systems, you need the Developer Preview SDK and tools which you can download in the SDK Manager in Android Studio. You also need a specially-configured emulator, and hardware system images that you can download and flash to your device manually. New to Android N is the concept of updating ‘over-the-air’, so that you won’t even need to manually flash updates to your device; they will appear automagically on your phone or tablet if you are enrolled in the Android Beta Program.
Android N has a lot of really cool behavior changes and new features. Notable amongst them are multi-window support, notification enhancements, enhanced ‘doze’ to prolong battery life on the go, and enhanced background optimizations. There is also a new ‘data saver’ mode and some nice enhancements to the phone experience including call screening and number blocking. New accessibility and localization features are welcome as well.
A new Just In Time (JIT) compiler has been introduced to improve the current ART compiler by enhancing its ‘Ahead of Time’ compilation. Essentially ART is now able to precompile and cache the most used methods of an app to maintain the app’s performance as it is being used. This new addition makes app installation and system updates considerably more quickly.
The NativeScript team, as always, is on top of these bleeding-edge platform changes. There is an open issue you can watch on GitHub to track progress for support of NativeScript and Android N. The good news is that all the current unit tests for the bridge that enables Java/JavaScript interoperability for NativeScript 1.6 and the upcoming 1.7 passed on Android N. Some enhancements still need to be made for Android permission support, which is currently a work in progress in NativeScript.
The best news, however, is encapsulated in a photo taken on an Android N enabled device showing an Android N-style split view in a NativeScript app:
Android N is coming soon, and we’re excited to offer support for it out of the box. Get your split-screen designs ready, we’re waiting for you!