Android N Developer Preview 2 hits with Vulkan, shortcuts, less-generic emoji

Developers, start your fastboots! Android N’s Developer Preview 2 is now live for OTA updates or manual flashing. This update brings a mixed bag of features and fixes.

Vulkan, the new low-overhead graphics API from Khronos Group, makers of OpenGL and that family of standards, is now part of the package. Expect boosts in benchmarks as CPU-bound processes shift over to the GPU. Instructions on implementation can be found at the NDK site.

Launcher shortcuts can now be created by apps; these can make actions with multiple steps or hooks easy for users to fire up with a single tap. Things like “send a text to this contact,” or “watch next episode of Veep,” or “open navigation with home as my destination.”

Less welcome for some will be the “new emoji design for people emoji that moves away from our generic look in favor of a more human-looking design.” While pretty much anything is better than the living chicken nuggets that are the default in Android (right), this may just create even more confusion as to what image exactly you are sending to the recipient. That information really ought to be standard in every messaging app.



At least the new realistic style makes for better skin tone changes, and the update also brings the objects added to the Unicode standard — bacon, facepalm, etc.

Watch out for bug fixes and changes to the standard APIs too. Now, go forth and develop!