8 new things Android 7.0 can do that iOS can’t
A new version of Android is here, and it looks to be a solid, if relatively low-key, upgrade.Whenever Android 7.0 (Nougat) gets to your device, you’ll probably be happy with it.
It also means that it’s time, once again, to see how Android has separated itself from iOS. If you’ve been thinking of pledging allegiance to a new platform, then here are some new, Nougat-y features that you won’t find on any iPhone.
A new “multi-window” feature lets you use two apps simultaneously, regardless of whether you’re on a phone or a tablet. Just long press the “Recent Apps” button once you’re inside an app, and then pick another app to scroll alongside it. Apple introduced a similar multitasking view with last year’s iOS 9 update, but that works only with iPads, not iPhones.
It’s worth noting that Samsung and LG have had split-screen modes on their Android skins for a few years, however.
Still, even if Nougat doesn’t have the smoothest take on the concept — some apps don’t work smoothly, and only Chrome lets you use the same app twice — it’s still a boon for larger phones.
Another boon for big phones is the new Display Size setting. That’s in the Accessibility folder of the Settings menu, and lets you shrink and enlarge the scale of the entire Android interface. Set it to “small” and you’ll be able to see much more info onscreen. iOS has had a similar Display Zoom setting on recent iPhones, but that doesn’t let you reduce things.
This won’t change the scale of every UI element within every app, but it works very well with Google’s own software and lets you fit many more apps on your home screen at once. It also changes things instantly, whereas iOS forces you to reboot.
When you have multiple apps running, you can double-tap the Recent Apps button to quickly switch between the last two that you’ve used. That’s a bit quicker than with iOS, where you double-tap the home button and then select from a carousel of open programs.
Nougat also lets you take more control over Android’s Quick Settings menu. There you’ll find an “Edit” button, which lets you exchange and rearrange various options — Wi-Fi, location, etc. — as you see fit.
Android has actually had these new tweaks available in the past, but you had to unlock them in the operating system’s System UI Tuner, a hidden menu meant for developers.
This, in turn, means that you can change which settings show up alongside the notification panel. Developers will also be able to create their own shortcuts, though how much support that gets remains to be seen.
I’ve complained about it before, but all of this furthers an advantage that Android has long had over iOS. The Control Center there is getting cleaner with iOS 10, but it still won’t let you customize how things show up.
Each of the options in Android 7.0’s Settings menu comes with a quick tidbit of information. It’s not a huge deal, but it can save you a couple of taps when you want to, say, view how much storage you have available.
A new slide-out menu lets you navigate all of your options a little quicker, too.
Nougat also allows for Google’s new Daydream virtual-reality platform. Though it isn’t available just yet, it should help standardize how VR works on future Android phones. Apple has expressed its interest in augmented reality in the past, but as it stands, Android is the place to be if you’re into mobile VR.
Just know that existing Android phones won’t be compatible with the new mode.
If it wasn’t already obvious, then none of this is groundbreaking. In fact, many of Nougat’s improvements are about matching things that iOS has already done. Much of iOS 10, meanwhile, is about matching details from Android. The real takeaway here is that we’re still dealing with two very similar platforms, and that the day-to-day differences between them are getting less stark. Still, within that context, Nougat is a decent step forward.