Update: Google has released the final developer preview for Android O. While the past few updates have been short in new features for curious Android fans, the APIs have been finalized for developers and things are all but set for the official release.
Original article follows below.
Android O is the next version of Google’s mega-popular mobile operating system set to release this Summer.
Don't have a Google-branded phone? The company announced Project Treble, an initiative that will ensure that Android O comes to many more devices than previous operating system updates.
We’ve already seen a healthy list of new features out of the beta, both visual and performance-based, that are worth getting excited about even if the new version doesn’t make groundbreaking changes like Material Design did in Android Lollipop.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Google ties the bow on Android O and releases it to the public. But for now, follow along as we dive into a list of confirmed features, all of which are available right now in the beta.
If you want to try Android O out for yourself, feel free to follow the instructions in the link below, but be warned that the beta in intended primarily for developers and curious thrill-chasers and as such, shouldn't be used on your daily driver.
- Here’s how to install Android O right now
Confirmed Android O features
Picture in Picture (PiP) mode
As is already seen on the iPad and some bespoke third-party launchers for Android, this would natively allow you to have one supported app remain lay on top of another separate app.
This is a minor feature, but one that makes multitasking less of a compromise than split-window mode and more of a relaxed experience. In our experience, PiP is in working order and operates as intended when watching a YouTube video.
Faster boot times
While speedy boot times are usually associated with a step-up in hardware. But Google unveiled that Android O will bring those benefits to all phones that run the software.
And it's not just the operating system that becomes faster to load up, but the apps on your phone can start running faster, too.
Restricted background activities
This is a power-saving feature that de-prioritizes app functions running in the background, which in turn means that your battery is going to possibly last much longer than it currently does on Android Nougat.
Paired with likely improvements to the Doze function that intelligently saves battery during down-time, it’s feasible that Android O could help squeeze an extra handful of hours out of your phone.
Each new version of Android seems to bring along an update to notifications and O is no exception. Nougat allowed you to take action right within the notification panel and as we’ve seen in the developer previews, developers can grant even greater power to users to toggle settings that usually require digging through menu after menu.
Contextual press-to-hold options
In an e-mail trying to copy an address so that you can paste it into Google Maps? No more, says Android O. By using machine learning, the OS can now recognize which app is best for the string of characters you're working with. Another example included being able to highlight a phone number and pop right into the dialer.
Adaptive app icons
As the name suggests, Google has introduced strict design guidelines for developers to adhere to that will help to create a unified visual style across more apps.
In addition, these new app icons will animate based on user interaction and…have you seen the animation demo? Look up. It looks awesome, no?
Boosted audio performance
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the first Android phone to come installed with Bluetooth 5, a technology that will widen the bandwidth and raise the speed limit in the wireless pipeline for your content to travel through and thus, enhance the quality of audio content sent wirelessly between your phone and headphones.
And while many devices will follow suit, audio quality on Android is going to get yet another boost thanks to Android O’s native support for LDAC, Sony’s hi-res Bluetooth audio codec.
In the developer options, we’re already seeing tons of options for tweaking the bitrate for audio and we expect more advancements to come down the line. This one could be a big deal, especially for those holding out on buying into the best wireless headphones.
An oldie that's been knocking around for years on iOS and some third-party launchers, this brings an at-a-glance notification bubble to app icons on the homescreen as a native Android feature.
Unlike iOS, Android O doesn't tell you how many pending alerts you have within a given app, but knowing where to direct your attention at the very least is a good thing.
Google is finally replacing the gumdrop emoji style from older versions of Android and is now making rounder face icons for Android O.
There are also new emoji in the form of starstruck, throwing up, fairy, mermaid, giraffe, wizard and even more options.
If you have any questions about Android O as the beta presses on, feel free to send me a message on Twitter and I’d be more than happy to help out.