Getting on Reddit to hold an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session is a brave thing to do. Especially when you know that your product is one of the most popular and also often criticized thing in the world. Thankfully, that didn’t stop Android engineers from jumping into the frying pan to answer some of Redditors’ most pressing questions about the upcoming Android Nougat release. Not surprisingly, there were a few dissatisfied voices with some of the trends in Android, but overall it has been rather civil. Naturally, there were a lot of questions raised, most of them related to development, of course, but here are a few interesting takeaways from the Q&A.
Ever since Apple released its own Night Shift feature on iOS 9, there has been a resurgence of interest in such “night mode” features everywhere. Of course, there have always been third party solutions on Android, but having something official and baked in would be preferable. Although it seemed that Android Nougat would be getting that feature, Google decided to pull it out at the last minute. The reason was that they simply felt that the feature wasn’t ready for prime time and that there were still resource, particularly battery, issues to be resolved. The other night mode, which is basically a dark theme, was also taken out for a slightly similar reason. Except here, there just weren’t enough developers and designers free to check if anything has been visually or functionally broken by the feature.
There were also concerns about Android’s future with Java as its core programming language. Some view Java as more than old but almost antiquated. Part of that ties into recent scandals revolving around Oracle’s (mis)management of Java and its relationship with the rest of the Java community. Unfortunately, Android isn’t really in a position to switch languages now, even to Java-based forks of the language. Google still firmly believes in the language, at least as far as it is useful for Android, and will keep on leveraging and supporting it.
The topic of version fragmentation also came up, especially in light of Android’s availability on more than just smartphones and tablets. Google’s answer to that is the support library that includes as many new features as possible for other, older versions of Android. That said, Android is a large, moving target and there are many things that the support library will never be able to, well, support. C’est la vie!
The biggest cause for concern in the AMA seems to be the never dwindling number of bug reports. Developers are naturally worried if Google can keep on top of things, especially when some of them are years old. The good news: Google has a dedicated for combing through bugs to weed out the real ones from false positives or already fixed bugs. The bad news: it’s going to take a lot of work and will be impossible to completely clear all those out.
As for the biggest question in everyone’s, developers and users alike, mind: when will OEMs start adopting Android Nougat? Well, that remains a secret.