Ever since Google I/O 2017, Android and Google enthusiasts have all had one question on their mind; “what is the next version of Android going to be called and when will be it released?”. Google to that end did not exactly make it easier for us to guess the name either. All we knew was that it would be called Android O and that it would be a type of sweet or dessert.
Well, it appears that all our doubts and suspicions have been laid to rest. Google has announced the official name of the next iteration of its mobile operating system as Android Oreo (just as we suspected). The announcement was perfectly timed with the partial solar eclipse that happened or is happening as we speak and Google have capitalized on that fact as well. Watch the video below and you’ll find out why.
We saw a sneak peek at some of the new features that Android O would have during the Keynote at Google I/O 2017 but what exactly does Android O bring to the table? Well, let’s find out.
Boasting an overall 2x improvement in startup and app launch speed, Android Oreo or simply Android O, is touted to be the faster version of Android yet. With Android Instant apps, you can launch apps directly from your browser without ever having to install apps. Once you’re done with the app, it disappears. No residue or junk files are leftover. Android Oreo also gives you peace of mind with Google Play Protect. Google Play Protect scans over 50 Billion apps per day to ensure that they are all malware free and safe to use.
Android Oreo does away with the blob emojis that we found in earlier iterations of Android and replaces them with rounder emojis. The new emojis are more colorful in terms of gradients and also bring forth a different design style. Oh, and before we forget, there are 60 new emojis for you to play around with as well. Sweet!
Androids Oreo wants to have a healthy relationship with your smartphone’s battery. In order to do that, the operating system will apply automatic limits on what applications can do in the background. Apps will be sorted into three categories: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates. Depending on what the app needs or wants to do, Android Oreo will limit application access thereby prolonging your device’s battery life.
Notifications can be an annoying thing, especially if you’re trying grab a quick snooze or you’re at an important meeting. Android Oreo introduces Notification channels. These channels will help you choose how you want to be notified. The channels will include: Importance, Sounds, Lights, Vibration, Show on lockscreen, and Override DND. For developers, this means that they can now create a notification channel for each type of notification they require. You can manage these notification settings via a system UI.
Once created, a notification channel can only be changed by the system, thus keeping you in control. You can also snooze notifications to reappear at a later time. Notifications will reappear with the same level of importance they first appeared with. In addition, Android Oreo also brings new visuals and grouping to notifications. This makes it easier for you to see what exactly is going on when you receive a new message or look at the notification shade.
Android Oreo has officially taken over the role of password managers by implementing an Autofill API. This means that once fully implemented and with your permission, Android Oreo will be able to automatically fill in your login details for your favorite and most used apps, making the login process significantly easier and faster.
This is by far one of the coolest features I’ve seen. Ever since the multi window feature came to Android Marshmallow, I’ve been a huge fan of multitasking on Android because it makes life so much easier rather than switching between apps. Android Oreo takes that one step further by introducing a picture-in-picture feature.
This essentially allows you to use two applications at the same time without having to manually switch between them or drag and drop apps like we did with multi window mode. For example, if you’re on a Skype or Google Duo call and you want to check your calendar, you can do so while on the call without any hassle. Watching a video and chatting at the same time? Entirely possible now.
Android Oreo also brings Adaptive icons to the table. Because of the sheer diversity of Android devices, especially their displays, icons are an element that fast get overlooked. For example, an icon that looks good on one display, may not look the same on a different display. This is where adaptive icons come into play. So an adaptive launcher icon would appear as a circular shape on one device and be rendered as a squircle (square+circle) on another device. Each device OEM would have to provide a mask which the system would then use to render all adaptive icons with identical shapes. These icons can be used in shortcuts, the Settings app, sharing popups and the overview screen as well.
With Android Oreo, you get support for high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs such Sony’s LDAC codec and Qualcomm’s aptX codec. You also get Bluetooth battery level indicators and Bluetooth in-band ringtones. Android Oreo also introduces Wi-Fi Aware AKA Neighborhood Aware Networking (NAN). This feature is available to devices with supported hardware. It enables devices and apps to discover and communicate with each other via Wi-Fi without needed Internet access.
If you use public Wi-Fi, then you can make use of Wi-Fi Assistant. This is where Android Oreo would automatically connect you to high quality open Wi-Fi networks and secure that connection with a VPN via Google. This means that all data transmitted is encrypted and secure.
As you can see, Android Oreo or simply Android O from this point onwards brings a collection of new and improves features to the table. While picture-in-picture is nothing new, it does help people who multi task a lot and who would need to keep switching apps while they work. With Google Play Protect and Vitals, you would rest assured that any and all apps that you install from the Google Play Store are completely safe.
If you do happen to have a hostile downloader app on your phone, it will need to operate only once it gets permission from you. Features such as text auto sizing, downloadable fonts, adaptive icons and deep color enable developers and to create more immersive and intuitive applications so that we, the users can have a seamless experience regardless of what devices we use.
The only issue that I see is device compatibility. There are still devices in Sri Lanka that are running on Android KitKat and Lollipop simply because they do not possess the hardware capability to run newer iterations of Android. On the other hand, you have device manufacturers such as OnePlus who simply stop support for their device because they feel that the device is outdated whereas it is perfectly capable of running Android O.
Well, unless you have a Google Pixel or a Nexus device such as the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and the Pixel C, your only shot at getting the Android Oreo update is to wait till your device manufacturer releases it. This can take anywhere from 3 months to 6 months to sometimes even a year. However, if you do own a Pixel or Nexus device, you can head over here to download the full system image and install it on your device. As always, make sure to back up all your important data as installing these system images would wipe your existing data.
In addition, Google will be pushing the Android O sources to AOSP (Android Open Source Project), which means that we are likely to see custom Android Oreo ROMs in the not too distant future. Google has also stated that they are working with a few OEMs such as HMD Global (Nokia), Huawei, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony to push the first versions of their respective Android Oreo updates before the end of 2017, via Project Treble. This is a project from the Android team at Google to make it easier and less costly for OEMs to get an existing device up and running on a new version of Android.
Are you excited about Android O? Have you installed it yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below
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