Chocolate Factory exudes Nougat as Android 7 begins rollout

Newer Nexus owners get it first, the rest will have to wait

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Google is starting its rollout of Android 7, codenamed Nougat, but you're only going to get it if you're running one of the newer models of the firm's Nexus devices.

From Monday, the system update will be sent out to Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and Android One users, with Google saying it'll take "several weeks" to get the code fully deployed.

As for other manufacturers, it's up to them when they push out the new operating system. Based on past experience, don't hold your breath – although it looks as though LG will get the first bite.

"The Nexus and Pixel C update to Android 7.0 Nougat occurs in stages and some carriers will receive the update later than others," Google said. "This update will be pushed simultaneously to devices in the Android Beta Program."

Under the hood

Google says Nougat has 250 improvements, the most noticeable of which is the user interface that allows two resizable app windows to run side by side. Improved multitasking support deep in the OS makes this possible.

Notifications have been updated, and can now be answered without firing up the app they are aimed at. The settings page allows pinning of most-used-and-needed apps within easy swiping distance.

For those of a virtual bent, Nougat is the debut for Google Vulkan 3D graphics API, which will form a key part of Android's Daydream VR app. Forthcoming Nougat phones with high-refresh rate screens and faster chips can run virtual apps while clipped into a headset – similar to the Gear VR system – and this'll give Google some virtual traction while we wait for Magic Leap.

Security has scored a major update, hardening up the Linux kernel at the heart of Android by segmenting off memory sectors and sandboxing some from user data entirely. Stack buffer overflow protection systems have been hardened, restricting the use of perf functions and SELinux ioctl system calls to developer mode only.

Nougat also fixes issues with Snapdragon-powered phones that allow an attacker to exploit flaws in the Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment to potentially harvest the smartphone's encryption keys. Multiple hacks have shown this to be a serious issue and security testers will be examining how the final implementation works.

Goodbye old Nexii

Sadly, the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 fondleslabs won't be invited to the Nougat party.

Google guarantees Android updates for two years and the Nexus 7 passed that in July. The Nexus 5 ought to be good until October, but sources tell The Reg that it doesn't have the hardware chops to run the new operating system.

It's unlikely that support for the new operating system will be added later, so Marshmallow is the end of the Android road for these devices, officially at least. Google has provisionally set a limit of three years for the all-important security updates, so they'll still be safe to use for the moment, and it's possible they could extend its deadlines to avoid leaving a growing pool of infected systems out there.

Mind you, that's not going to stop people trying to manually add Nougat to the older kit. If you have any success let us know. ®


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