Friday, August 18, 2017

What’s New in Android O: Everything You Need to Know

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This is what’s new in Android O for those enjoying the beta, and what you need to know when Android 8.0 Oreo is released on August 21st. The fourth beta arrived in July, and now Google has confirmed they’ll unveil the latest software on Monday, just minutes after the solar eclipse.

There are lots of new Android O features that you can use to do more with your phone and tablet. Users will enjoy bundled notifications that are easier to manage or the new picture-in-picture mode for video. There are changes to the icons, an easy text selection tool, and auto-fill in apps like Google Chrome. Not to mention faster performance and changes to make your battery last longer.

Read: How to Install the Android O Beta Right Now

Many other changes are behind the scenes that you won’t see right away but will make a big difference. We expect Google to unveil some more exciting new features on August 21st. Until then, users are able to download and install the 4th developer preview, which was released on July 24th.

As long as you have a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, Pixel XL or the Pixel C tablet and Nexus Player, you can try Android O today.

What’s New in Android O

Below is a breakdown on new additions specific to Android O for all smartphones, tablets, and some for Android TV. Not to mention you’ll enjoy new features soon from Google Assistant and the new Google Lens app.

  • System Optimizations: Google worked hard across the board to make apps run faster and smoother. System optimizations will enable phones to reboot twice as fast, and potentially deliver twice the performance for apps and games.

  • Background Limits: A power saving feature in addition to “Doze” that will restrict app battery usage while in the background based on priority. In Android O this will limit how often apps check your location, scan WiFi or access data. (Some apps may need to reload when you re-open them) More info here.

  • Smart Text Selection: Android O will recognize an address, URL, telephone number, and email addresses. Double-tap and copy/paste will highlight the entire line, then offer apps you’ll need next. In addition to the usual copy, paste, or copy all commands.

  • Notification Dots: The notification system on Android is powerful, but it is getting even better. Small colored dot can extend notifications and app activity to a visual level. Being visible right on icons and viewed by long-pressing any icon with a dot.

  • Picture-in-Picture Mode: Android TV has PIP mode with Nougat, and now all Android will have it with Android O. This is picture-in-picture video. Imagine watching Netflix and YouTube at the same time. Or a YouTube video while looking up project instructions in Chrome. There is also support for multi-displays. So watch something on a phone and cast another stream to your TV.

Android O picture-in-picture mode, and Notification Dots
  • Auto-Fill: Just like how our web browsers on desktops and mobile auto-fill information like email or physical addresses, we will now be able to do this in apps. Android O brings auto-fill in a more advanced method to the entire OS.

  • Adaptive Icons & Badges: At-a-glance notification number bubbles or information right on home screen app icon badges. Similar to iOS. Not to mention adaptive icons. Imagine the clock icon always showing the right time, the calendar showing the date, etc. Not to mention neat animations.

  • Notification Channels: The notification system is changing a little bit, again. Bundled notifications thanks to a new API will let developers have more control over what we see, and how often. We could see cross-device sync later too. More details here. There will also be an option to snooze notifications.

  • Wide-gamut color for apps: Android developers can now take advantage of new devices that have a wide-gamut color capable display. Like the Galaxy S8. Apps will be more colorful and amazing.

  • Keyboard Navigation: We already have this to some extent in Android Nougat, and it will be better in O. Allowing swipes and gestures to navigate with the keyboard and text while typing.

  • Audio Improvements: New low-latency audio, Bluetooth aptX, and other things.

  • New Android O Emoji: The blob and robot-style Android emoji are dead. Google redesigned every emoji for Android O. In addition to being the first vendor to fully offer Emoji 5.0 support. Including the vomit face, dinosaurs, more hearts, and more faces.

Rounder emoji throughout Android O.
  • Android O Vitals: A big talking point for Google is Vitals. This project will improve battery life, startup time, graphic rendering time, and device stability.

  • Downloadable Fonts and XML: Developers and manufacturers will have more control over the font and color they provide on devices or in apps. Each app can easily have its own font that won’t interrupt our devices.

  • Fluid Experiences: This allows users to do more with Android. These experiences consist of picture-in-picture mode, notification dots, and adaptive icons.

  • Project Treble: A new project to make the base of Android modular. The goal is to make Android updates easier for manufacturers and carriers, by keeping the base the same and working across all devices and software versions.

  • Android Go: Similar to Android One, Android Go is a new initiative for budget devices. The entire operating system, Google Apps, and Play Store have been rebuilt for devices with 1GB of RAM or less. Bringing premium Android to every budget smartphone.

  • More Fingerprint Gestures (Moves): Google will be adding more moves and accessibility features to Android O.

Above is an image provided by Google that teases a few more feature that didn’t make the developer preview changelog. Some include a split screen launcher, Instant Apps in the app tray, new screen animations and auto brightness improvements, work profiles, and much more. Many of these are not in the beta but will arrive with the final software when it’s released in August or September.

We did notice a few small visual changes with the 4th developer preview, but nothing substantial changed. We’re assuming Google is holding any big new features for when the software makes its official debut around the globe.

Android O Release Date & Updates

So when will you get Android O? Google released the fourth developer preview on July 24th. It is available for most new Nexus or Pixel devices. The fourth beta is very stable, has hundreds of bug fixes and stabilization, and the final API’s for developers to build apps for Android 8.0.

This week Google confirmed Android 8.0 “O” will get announced on Monday, August 21st, just moments after the solar eclipse ends. Google titled the teaser video “Oreo” so most likely that’s the official name. Get excited.

Google promises Android O will arrive in Q3 2017, and it sounds like they’ll be right on time. Additionally, this also suggests the LG V30 and upcoming Google Pixel 2 will both launch with Android 8.0 Oreo.

Read: 9 Things to Know About the Google Pixel Android O Update

It’s important to remember that these early builds of Android O are for developers to use as they prepare for the release date. Some of these features are subject to change, get better over time, or removed at any moment. Not to mention missing from early beta software. Google claims the 4th preview is stable and a “release candidate of O, but users could still run into problems. At this point, we recommend just waiting for the official software come Monday.

This is what we know about Android O so far, and we’ll update as we learn more in the coming days.

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