Monday, March 20, 2017

Android O Release: What You Need to Know

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While Google’s latest Android Nougat update is still slowly arriving for most, many are looking ahead to what’s next. Which of course is Android O. And while we don’t know anything yet, a slew of leaks and rumors are giving us a good idea of what to expect. With that in mind, here’s what we know so far about Android Oreo.

The annual Google I/O developer event is coming up quick, and Android O will likely take center stage. Over the past few years Google’s used their developer conference to announce new versions of Android, and we’re expecting that trend to continue. In fact, the first developer preview (beta) of Android O may even be announced.

Read: Google Pixel XL Review: A New Breed of Android

Last year Android N was announced and released as a limited preview in March. Ahead of Google I/O. Although we’re not expecting an early unveiling here in 2017. Instead, Google may use the developer conference to show the world what they’re working on. Which we’re hearing could be revamped notifications, picture-in-picture mode, gestures, and a slew of advanced features using the Google Assistant. Read on for more details.

As of right now nothing is confirmed. We know the next version of Android will be called Android O at first, then later get a name. Google names each version in alphabetical order and after tasty treats. Like Android 4.4 KitKat, Android 5.0 Lollipop, Marshmallow, and now Android 7.0 Nougat.

Next is Android O, and some Google employees have even started teasing it will be called Oreo. We’ll have to wait and see. That isn’t important though. It’s the changes, improvements and new features most will likely appreciate. I’m looking forward to Android 9.0 Pistachio, or Peanut Brittle.

Android O Release Date

First things first, when will Android O be released? Well, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. Last year Google unveiled N in March as a developer preview, and it wasn’t officially released until late August.

Right now anything is possible. Google could announce Android O sometime in April and share more details in May at their developer event, or could stay completely quiet until they’re ready. We can’t be certain. Although, our bet is on sometime in April ahead of their annual trade-show.

That being said, Google I/O will take place this year on May 17th until May 19th. Giving developers and Android users three days worth of information. If we don’t hear or see anything else on Android O in April, expect a full unveiling at Google I/O in the middle of May. Google will likely release a developer preview (beta) for a bunch of compatible devices too.

Keep in mind though, this is when it will be available for a select few. The global release for all devices and manufacturers won’t be until later in the year. Around September or October. Then companies like Samsung will start working on updates, which will probably arrive sometime in early 2018.

Android O: What Rumors Suggest

We don’t know anything about Android O yet, but 9to5Google has a slew of leaks and rumors they’ve been sharing over the past month. Likely in anticipation of a March or April announcement, before Google I/O in May.

Their sources suggest Android O will completely change notifications yet again. Which is odd considering they just receive a major overhaul with Android 7.0 Nougat. Some leaks believe they will be smarter and in a custom order in our pulldown bar, sync across devices, and other things.

Android may also get a lot smarter throughout. From new gestures by swiping on the screen, smart controls with the Google Assistant, and even notification badges on app icons. That’s just a few of many things we could see.

The list below is unofficial and unconfirmed. However, multiple leaks have stated something similar to it could be what completes Android O.

Read: Android Nougat vs Android 6.0 Marshmallow Walkthrough: What’s New

Android O Features (Rumored)

It’s worth noting that Android N had well over 50 changes, but a lot of them aren’t visible at first glance. So this is just a small collection of what we could see from Google’s next version of Android.

  • App icon badges: At-a-glance notification number bubbles or information right on home screen app icon badges. Similar to iOS.

  • Picture in picture mode: With Android Nougat devices received multi-window mode and Android TV got picture-in-picture. Oreo could bring it to all smartphones, tablets and devices of any kind.

  • Revamped Notifications: Our notification system could be changing yet again. Although all we’re hearing so far is smarter notifications, like the order they’re displayed, in addition to cross-device sync. So notifications cleared on a phone aren’t waiting on a tablet.

  • More Google Assistant: Now that the Google Assistant works with all new Android devices, expect tons of new smart features and controls.

  • Smart Text Selection: Also being called “Copy Less” where text selection for copy/paste, addresses, phone numbers and more can be saved and moved by the Google Assistant automatically. Or just be better than the current copy/paste method.

  • Restricted background activities: A power saving feature in addition to “Doze” that will restrict app battery usage while in the background based on priority. (Some apps may need to reload when you re-open them)

  • Adaptive app icons: Active and dynamic app icons on the home screen. An extension of badges. Like the clock icon showing the right time, the calendar icon showing the correct date at all times, etc.

  • Gestures & Moves: Many devices have gestures, and the Google Pixel has “Moves”. Like swiping down on the fingerprint scanner to pull down the notification bar. Or drawing a C in the screen to instantly launch the camera.

  • More

Some of these make sense, others are just small improvements or tweaks. We’ve seen app icon badges on Samsung devices or iOS for years, so that’s nothing new. Restricted background activities was recently added in the latest version 57 of Google Chrome, which could be a sign of things to come.

Smart text selection was rumored in Google’s hybrid operating system named Andromeda. Which blends Android with Chrome OS for one universal OS for all devices. And it seems like Google’s always improving notifications, so expect those to change a little too. I’d love them to be customizable so we can choose the order and priority, add more in-line reply tools or other advanced features. We’ll have to wait and see.

Another report mentioned tons of enterprise stuff, better security, improved media server tools and more. It’s far too early to speculate beyond this for now, but we’ll know more soon enough.

What Devices Will Get Android O?

Any device released within the past two years or so should technically be capable of getting the update to Android O when it’s released. Manufacturers are required to support a device for at least 18-months from the day it’s released to the public. So like the Galaxy S6, up to the most recent LG G6.

However, which devices will get it first is important. Google does what’s called a Developer Preview, or a beta where millions get early access. We can expect the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus Player, Pixel C tablet and maybe a few others to be supported at launch.

Otherwise, most other device owners will need to wait for betas from those companies, or the global release date later this year.

Final Thoughts

In closing, nothing is really confirmed at this point. We’re almost certain that Android O will be unveiled (at least part of it) within the next two months. That’s all though. A developer preview and beta will likely follow, and then a release later this year.

Whether it’s Android 7.2 Oreo, or Android 8.0 Oatmeal Cookie, Orange, or even Ozark Pudding. Google loves to come up with funny names for each version of Android. Either way stay tuned, because we should be learning more soon enough.

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