Now that Android Nougat, the latest version of the Google mobile OS, has been released as an update for late-model Nexus phones, we took it out for a trial run on a Nexus 6P, one of the recommended models in our smartphone ratings. What did we find? Nougat’s tweaks, while not revolutionary, should improve the smartphone experience for Android users.

If this sounds like an underwhelming assessment, it’s because many Nougat features, such as split-screen app access and the ability to respond to text messages from any app, have been available on Samsung and LG smartphones for several years. iPhones, too, acquired the text-responding feature with iOS 9.

If you have a Nexus smartphone, check to see whether there’s a download ready for you by going into phone Settings, then About phone, and finally System updates.

The Compelling New Features

Apps remain divided in split screen. With Nougat, Google adds refinements already familiar to many Samsung and LG fans, including a stacked split-window view that allows you to work with two apps simultaneously. The default view gives equal space to both apps, but you can move the dividing border with your finger to grant one more real estate. When you tilt the phone sideways, the apps appear side-by-side.

To get the split-screen view, you must already have an app in use. Press and hold the Recent Apps button and the screen will split in two (vertically) and a carousel of other apps (up to seven) will appear on the bottom of the screen.

Not all apps are supported, though, including the camera. What’s more, when we Google Photos, the default gallery on our Nexus 6P, was open, it didn’t seem to let us drag a photo into messages. The same held true for a Maps location we wanted to share in a text message. That left us attaching photos and sharing maps the old-fashioned way.

If you’re going through the trouble of using two apps at once on a screen, wouldn't you appreciate some interoperability between them? Maybe that will come later, along with split-screen support for more apps. 

Notifications. These have always been a key selling point for Android phones, which keep their owners in the loop—even when their screens are locked—using a notification bar, color-coded LEDs, and customizable audible alerts. With Android Nougat, you can now reply to texts from inside any application. Again, that’s old news for many Apple, LG, and Samsung phone users.

One new Android Nougat option that you might not have on your phone is the ability to block notifications from specific numbers. Android Nougat also bundles notifications according to the apps from which they came.

App use. In its Android Nougat preview, Google said it would limit the number of apps you can open on your screen to just seven to make it easier to toggle between them. But on the Nexus 6P, we were able to access 10. One promise Google kept: Its designers have conveniently moved the Close All apps button to the top of the screen. Truth be told, though, that’s not a very easy reach for a thumb traversing a display that's 5.7 inches wide (diagonally).