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4 things Android N can do that iOS 9 can't

At Google's annual conference, its Android N operating system breaks new ground against Apple's iOS 9. However, in other ways, it's still playing catch-up.

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During Google's annual developer's conference, Vice President of Engineering at Android Dave Burke introduced a handful of new features coming to the company's latest mobile operating system. Known (for now) as Android N, the mobile software will feature beefed-up security updates and new emojis.

And while there are a few features in N that Apple iOS users (the world's second-most popular mobile OS platform) will recognize, there are enough new tricks and goodies in N to set it apart -- and arguably ahead.

Google's update will begin rolling out in the fall. Because Apple usually releases its iOS updates to the public in September, the company will have plenty of time to respond to Android's challenge. Until then, check out all the ways Android N edges out iOS 9 and the ways it does not.

New Android N features:

  • Google Assistant: The new Assistant software will let you engage in more natural back-and-forth dialogue with the Android device than you can with Apple's Siri, in order to get things done, like research a restaurant and make a reservation through OpenTable.
  • Split-screen mode: Though we've seen split-screen before in Samsung and LG handsets, Android N supports native split-screen viewing for both phones and tablets. You can already use split-screen in iOS 9, but it's only available on the iPad and not the iPhone (yet).
  • Instant Apps: Timed with the release of N but also available on phones running OS versions as old as Android Jelly Bean, Instant Apps will let you access or use certain apps without having to download and install said apps. This is especially useful for digital payment transactions, where you can pay with Android Pay instead of whatever system the app would have made you use. Currently, there isn't an equivalent on iOS.
  • Doze on the Go: Google's battery-saving feature, Doze, debuted on Android Marshmallow and snoozes background computing when your phone is not in use and stays totally still. But with N there's Doze on the Go, which does the same thing except it also works when your phone is in motion, like when it's inside your pocket sitting idle. With iOS, there is a low-power mode, but it doesn't work as automatically as Doze on the Go -- you have to toggle it on yourself.

Things Android N can do that iOS already does:

  • Replying within Notifications: When a new message pops up in the notifications shade, Android users can now reply directly from the notifications menu without having to open the texting app. Apple introduced this interactive notifications feature two years ago with iOS 8.
  • Grouping apps in Notifications: Notifications from the same apps are now grouped together, making it easier to read through and address (or dismiss) alerts from the same app. You can already do this on iOS when you toggle on the option in the Settings menu.
  • Night Mode: To reduce eye strain from viewing a bright display at night, Android N has a Night Mode setting that tints the screen yellow, which keeps you less revved up in later hours than the usual blue tint. You can also adjust the brightness and tint of the sepia hue, too. Apple was first to introduce something similar, dubbed Night Shift, with iOS 9.

We can't wait to use Android N for real, and to see how Apple responds with its forthcoming iOS 10. For all of CNET's coverage, check out all the news from Google I/O 2016.


This article also appears in Spanish. Read: ¿Qué tiene Android N que no tenga iOS 9? aquí te lo explicamos