People weren’t expecting Google to unveil the next version of Android until its annual I/O developer conference in May, but the company surprised everyone on Wednesday by announcing the Android N Developer Preview, which makes this the earliest developer preview it’s ever released for Android. The reason for this is that Google wants as much feedback from developers as possible so that it can release Android N sometime this summer. This is the first of five previews that Google is planning to release before the final version of Android N is released, and as such, it’s still a work in progress, but it does give us an idea of which direction Google is taking the operating system, as well as what new features will be included in the final version.
Ten years ago, mobile development was tough: the industry was quite nascent and the desktop was still the center of computing. With a host of mobile platforms, we had a closet full of more than 200 phones: J2ME, Symbian S60 and UIQ variants, Windows Mobile… each SDK and toolset completely different such that we were building our apps pretty much device by device. That’s why Android made so much sense: a belief that aligning around a common, open-source platform would drive innovation across the mobile industry. Android was built by developers for developers, and was created out of the wild idea that we could minimize some of the biggest pain points for building for mobile, while enhancing choice for consumers. When Android first launched, there was only one device: the HTC G1. That meant one device maker, one chipmaker and one carrier. Fast forward to today, with 400 OEMs, 500 carriers and millions of developers coming together to create experiences for over 1.4 billion Android users around the world. That growth has meant we’ve expanded the ways we’ve worked together with the mosaic of partners building for Android, from the launch of the first Android device with just three partners to last year’s developer preview of Marshmallow, when millions of developers took part.