Our favorite features of the new Nougat OS for Android

Google is in the process of rolling out the latest update to its operating system for Android devices. This new version, dubbed Nougat, comes with a number of tasty tweaks and refinements, including user interface improvements, notification enhancements and a new “Multi-Window mode” for split-screen capability.

Google made the update available for some devices last August and is gradually pushing it out to others. If you haven’t already, you’ll get a notification when Nougat is available for your device. Here are some of our favorite features.

1. Faster multitasking

A new multitasking shortcut allows you to double-tap the square multitasking button (at the bottom of your screen) to quickly switch back-and-forth between two apps. For example, you’re composing an email in Gmail and you want to find a bit of info from Chrome to include in your email. You can open Chrome, find and copy a link, then double-tap the square button and go back to Gmail.

2. Split-screen capability

In Multi-Window mode, you can use two apps on the same screen at the same time. Just long-press the square button, and the app you’re using will jump to the top of the screen (on a phone) or to the left (on a tablet). Your screen will then display a stack of recently used apps at the bottom from which you can select the second app you want to add to your screen. You can downsize or maximize either of the app windows with a sliding divider. However, some apps are not yet compatible with this feature.

3. Multiple tabs in Chrome

You can now open multiple Chrome tabs while using Chrome in Multi-Window mode. Just tap the Menu button and select the “Move to other window” option.

4. Bundled notifications

Let’s say you post a cool selfie to Facebook. Moments later, the top of your screen is overflowing with notifications of likes and comments from your friends. Until now, you’ve had two choices: swipe them to the right one at a time or clear them all at once. With Nougat, when you get multiple notifications from a single app, they can be bundled together into a single group, and the group can be expanded to view individual messages. You can also long-press a notification and silence notifications from that app or block them entirely.

5. Quicker replies

When you get notifications from an app like Facebook Messenger, you can now reply directly from the notification. Just tap the notification and a keyboard appears. This means you can have a conversation without switching between a messaging app and another app.

6. Better control of data usage

With Nougat, you can stop specific apps from using data in the background and eating up your monthly data allowance. Just go to the Data Usage menu, open Data Saver and turn it on. You’ll see a list of apps that are installed on your device, and you can enable background data for those that you select. Those that you don’t select will only use cellular data when you’re actively using them.

7. New emojis

We’ll admit it. We love emojis. And Nougat brings a menu of 72 new ones, even a bacon one! There’s also a face palm, a boxing glove and a lot of new professions for men and women, from astronaut to welder, with a number of optional skin tones.

8. Emergency contacts

The new “Emergency Information” feature allows emergency responders like paramedics to open a list of emergency information without having to unlock your phone. You can set it up in the User section and list your blood type, known allergies and other vital health data.