Android has begun releasing the latest version of its operating system, Nougat, into the wild.

Granted, if you aren’t running a smartphone with the Nexus branding you might be in for a wait, or indeed, have to wait until you get a new smartphone.

The reason for this is quite simply because, as has long been the case, manufacturers need to push updates to their devices rather than Google automatically updating all smartphones in one shot.

With that having been said, Google has a plan to make updating the Android ecosystem a more regular occurrence.

We’ll get to that in a bit, but first we think its worth mentioning the latest features Nougat is bragging about.

Smarter than a Marshmallow

Starting at the top, the notification bar has been given a number of improvements. Firstly, a single pull-down from the top of the display will show off a single line of options which can be customised.

This means that features you access regularly like WiFi, the flashlight and Bluetooth can be accessed with a slide and a tap. It’s a small feature but one that really should have been a stock Android feature for a while.

Nougat brings with its the ability to reply to a text message, Facebook post or anything that requires a reply, from the notification bar with Direct Reply.

Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and Xiaomi have been adding this onto Android for sometime now and Whatsapp recently introduced its own take on the feature but its nice to see it becoming a basic feature in Android now.

True multi-tasking

Being able to switch between apps is cool but its a far cry from actually being able to have two active windows open at once. Nougat is switching that up by adding a Multi-window view to Android. This means you can watch a live stream and have the Twitter app open at the same time.

In the past, this was a feature that many manufacturers, including the likes of LG, have had to add on top of Android.

Better graphics, better VR

AMD isn’t the only firm that wants to bring VR to the masses but Android is putting serious VR functionality into your pocket.

For one, Nougat will support Vulkan, a cross-platform API that uses minimal resources to render 3D graphics.

Google also says that Daydream (its latest mobile VR platform) will bring a greater sense of immersion to mobile phones.

This coupled with Vulkan could mean better looking VR on your mobile according to Android.

“We’ve worked at all levels of the Android stack in Nougat — from how the operating system reads sensor data to how it sends pixels to the display — to make it especially built to provide high quality mobile VR experiences,” a post on the Android blog reads.

Better update schedules, hopefully

Finally, as we mentioned right at the top of this story, Android wants to improve its update cycle.

The firm will be implementing a new maintenance schedule over the next few quarters. We hope that this means that updates, especially those that patch security holes, will be delivered more frequently.

Sadly, as great a move as this is updates are still terribly reliant on manufacturers pushing them through to their handsets in the wild.

However, a regular schedule might be just the thing to light a fire under those that dawdle when it comes to securing the handsets their customers are using.

There are over 250 new features and improvements to Android Nougat so going over them all would mean we’d be here all day.

The first smartphone to have Nougat out of the box will be the LG V20 but as the operating system has now been officially released it’s just a matter of time before we can all sink our teeth into Android’s latest sweet treat.

[Source – Android]