Just earlier this week, Google announced the new Android N Developer Preview. The entire ecosystem is eager to hear what next alphabet – Android N – will be eventually called. But more importantly, there are tons of great new features, enhancements and promise of something great becoming finally available through this Android N release. The official version of Android N is estimated to be available during Q3’2016.
As with all prior Developer Preview versions of Android, this version is only targeted for app developers. Like all the other older versions this version is meant to be used for compatibility testing and making sure apps support forth-coming features when the official release is out and gets updated to hundreds of millions of Android devices.
It’s quite common to experience some stability as well as performance issues with the Developer Preview versions so it’s only recommended for those who want to check how these new APIs and features can be utilized within their apps. Furthermore, the entire Android system, application performance and battery life is typically slow and devices with updated Developer Preview may become unresponsive.
Finally, one of the important things with early Developer Preview versions is that the current apps do not necessarily work at all on those. We’ve seen many apps getting instant problems when a new version comes out. We only recommend this version for internal tests and new API research how those could improve the app when official version is out.
Most Notable UI Improvements in Android N
One of the most visible enhancement in Android N is definitely multi-window feature. Splitting a screen for multitasking isn’t definitely a new feature in mobile world and soon it will be also available on Android. Modern and sophisticated apps can utilize multi window UI implementation and this can be handled with a new manifest attribute – android:resizableActivity. Once this is enabled, the Android activity can be launched in multi-screen (or split-screen) mode in device UI.
While multi-window mode is the biggest user-facing change in Android, the Android N Developer Preview includes variety of other useful enhancements. For example, certain UI interactions should be much faster than in any of the older Android versions (e.g. bringing up the keyboard, changing views etc.)
In addition, there are new stuff for notifications. For example, direct reply capability via
RemoteInput API. Also,
Notification.Builder.setGroup() method can be used to group notifications together from the same app. It will be seen whether this feature applies to system notifications and runtime permission requests that now show up for users when app is running.
Impact of Android N for Tests, Test Scripts and Test Automation
As said, there will be impact for tests, test scripts and used test automation implemented on current Android versions. For instance, new UI enhancements may require changes in the UI tests as those span across different Android activities with Android N. You probably need to revise script to consider which split screen will the test take its place. Also, there are more tests and test scripts needed as the UI’s can become more complex and versatile for users.
The notification change may be good news for test automation. As you want to avoid unnecessary notifications during the test execution, grouping certain notifications is a good news and frequency of those popping up may be smaller. You know, OS level notifications have been causing some headache for test automation but some of the more advanced frameworks have already considered a feature to tackle those.
Some sources say that OS level notifications could be also disabled. This would be an awesome feature as user can entirely control what will be shown as notifications and no need to build workaround for test automation progress.
It’s definitely too early to judge whether these changes have significant impact on test automation and the current way of testing, but for sure, there are tons of great new features that can make apps even more awesome and you surely want to make sure all those new features with in your app.
We’ll be testing Android N and all of its Developer Preview versions here at Testdroid team and will report if anything important will show up.
Do you have any experiences with testing, test automation or frameworks with Android N? Weigh in with a comment below!