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Android 7.0 Nougat is the 7th major version of the Android operating system. First they released it as a beta build on March 9, 2016. Later, they officially released it on August 22, 2016, with Nexus devices being the first to receive the update.
Nougat introduces notable changes to the operating system and its development platform, including the ability to display multiple apps on-screen at once in a split-screen view, support for inline replies to notifications, as well as an OpenJDK-based Java environment and support for the Vulkan graphics rendering API, and “seamless” system updates on supported devices.
Android Nougat introduces a split-screen display mode for phones. In which two apps occupy halves of the screen. An experimental multi-window mode is also available as a hidden feature. In this mode multiple apps can appear simultaneously on the screen in overlapping windows.They redesigned the notification shade. It also featured a smaller row of icons for settings that replaced notification cards with a new “sheet” design. In addition this allowed inline replies to notifications. They gave the opportunity to “bundle” multiple notifications from a single app. Also there is greater per-app control over notifications.
They expanded the “Doze” power saving mechanism introduced in Android Marshmallow. They did that to include a state activated when the device is running on battery and the screen has been off for a period of time, but is not stationary. In this state, they restricted network activity. In addition, they granted the apps with “maintenance windows” in which they can access the network and perform background tasks. As in Marshmallow, they activated the full Doze state when the device is stationary with its screen off for a period of time. A new “Data Saver” mode restricts background mobile data usage. It can also trigger internal functions in apps that they designed to reduce bandwidth usage, such as capping the quality of streaming media.
In December 2015, Google announced that Android Nougat would switch its JRE from the defunct Apache Harmony to OpenJDK. The official open source implementation of the Java platform maintained by Oracle Corporation and the Java community. The Android Runtime (ART) now incorporates a profile-guided compilation system, utilizing a JIT compiler and profiling alongside its current ahead-of-time compiler to further optimize apps for a device’s hardware and other conditions in the background.
Nougat introduces a system for enabling “seamless”, automatic system updates, based upon and sharing some code with the implementation of similar functionality on Chrome OS. The system uses a pair of SquashFS partitions. The Android system executes from an “online” partition.In the same manner they applied updates in the background to a redundant “offline” partition. On the next boot following the installation of an update, they the redundant partition designated as active, and the device henceforth boots into the updated system.
They kept the previous system partition as a backup in case of update failure. They did this in order to serve as the “offline” partition for the next update. This system removes the requirement for the device to reboot into the system recovery environment. This is done in order to apply the update and also provides the ability for an update to be automatically rolled back in case of a failure. Due to the partitioning requirements of this system, existing devices will not support seamless updates. Additionally, due to the ART changes on Nougat, apps no longer need to be re-compiled upon the first boot after a system update.
Developer Preview 2 added platform support for Vulkan, the new low-level 3D rendering API to augment OpenGL ES but with higher graphics performance.
Support for the Daydream VR platform is introduced in Nougat. Features include a “VR mode” for reduced graphics latency. A “sustained performance mode” to assist developers in optimizing apps to a devices thermal profile, a new head tracking algorithm which combines the input from various device sensors, and integration of system notifications into the VR user interface.
Nougat is the first version featuring Unicode 9.0 support and comes with updated emoji plus support for emoji skin tones.
In response to the Stagefright family of bugs disclosed and fixed in 2015. They conducted several changes to harden the media stack against future vulnerabilities. In addition they implemented runtime integer overflow detection. This prevented the majority of Stagefright-like programming bugs from becoming vulnerabilities, in addition to helping fix and prevent such bugs. They also redisigned Android’s monolithic MediaServer process better to adhere to the principle of least privilege. They split the MediaServer into several separate processes. Each one of them running in its own unprivileged sandbox, and granted only the permissions required for its task. For example, only the AudioServer can access Bluetooth, and libstagefrightnow runs within the MediaCodecService sandbox, which is only granted GPU access. They placed further constraints on the media stack through seccomp.
They enabled various mechanisms to reduce the possibility of malicious code being injected and/or executed inside the Linux kernel. This includes dividing kernel memory into logical segments for code and data. They do this with page access permissions of read-only and no-execute as appropriate. They also restricted kernel from directly accessing user space memory, In that fashion they enabled stronger stack protection in the GCC compiler to reduce stack smashing. To limit exposure of the kernel to potentially malicious code, they disabled perf by default. SELinux restricted Ioctl commands. They also enabled seccomp-bpf to grant processes the ability to restrict system calls.
On devices shipping with Android Nougat, the “Verified Boot” policy (introduced partially on KitKat, and displaying notifications on startup on Marshmallow) must be strictly enforced. If system files are corrupted or otherwise modified, the operating system will only allow operation in a limited-use mode or refuse to boot at all.
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