There’s bound to be a lot of new features in Android N, and while we’ve explored some of them, there’s going to be more and more coming as we approach a release date later this year. One of the features Google’s already been talking about is launcher shortcuts, which make their debut in the second preview release of Android N released this week.
While the feature became available, nothing much was actually said about it. So, with the help of some developers, US-site Phandroid was able to create a working demo that shows something surprising; an iOS-like 3D touch feature, with a twist.
In the developer documentation on the subject, Google says that launcher shortcuts are here to help users access actions quicker, and can ‘deep link’ into points within your app. For example, such a shortcut for Instagram could launch directly to the ‘new post’ screen. A Twitter client could have a ‘new tweet’ shortcut, and so on. It doesn’t need to stop there; it can be content-sensitive as well, allowing Plex to offer shortcuts to continue watching your favourite TV series.
The way it works is somewhat akin to Apple’s 3D Touch, though that requires a hardware implementation as well to make it work. Of course, apps have to actually support the new feature — developers have to implement it; the launcher doesn’t do all the magic.
As you can see in the video below, swiping down on an app icon reveals a dropdown list of sorts with an extended weather forecast. Though it’s an early preview, it doesn’t take a great stretch to picture clicking on one of those dropdown items to load a specific point within the app (e.g. a more detailed forecast for Sunday).
This feature is already in the Android N SDK, so developers can start implementing this stuff today, and it will be very handy when they’ve done it. Launcher shortcuts will be even more useful once we see hardware built to take advantage of them. We’ve already seen touch pressure-sensitive hardware from ZTE and Huawei, and a rumour that HTC might be working on it as well for a re-signing to the Nexus program this year.
We can’t wait to see where this goes.