Google just announced its next version of Android and as presumed, it’s being called Android O. This isn’t what it will actually be called but for now, it’s just Android O. We’ll learn more about Android O in the weeks leading up to Google I/O 2017. For now, let’s take a look at what we know;
The first noteworthy change is Background limits. Essentially, this puts additional automatic limits on what apps are allowed to do in the background in three areas : background services, implicit broadcasts and location updates. Background limits clearly introduces a big change in how Android works and helps your smartphone save more battery than ever. This’s the official documentation: here and here.
Android O introduces notification channels that provides a unified system to help users manage notifications. This allows users to manage most of the notifications settings using a consistent system UI. Users can create a notification channel for each distinct type of notification that needs to be sent. You can also create notification channels to reflect choices made by users of an app. For instance, you can set up different notification channels for each conversation group created by a user in a messaging app.
O also brings new Autofill APIs. This allows users to easily fill out forms and save time while doing so. Account and credit card forms can be easily filled with the introduction of the Autofill Framework. The autofill app will save and secure user data.
Picture (PIP) mode is a special type of multi-window mode especially used for video playback. In this mode, users will be able to continue watching a video while using other applications This was already available for Android TV but with Android O this feature will be available on other Android devices.
Android O introduces adaptive launcher icons, which can display a variety of shapes across different device models. For example, a launcher icon can display using a circular shape on one OEM device, and display a squircle on another device. Each device OEM provides a mask, which the system then uses to render all icons with the same shape. The new launcher icons are also used in shortcuts, the Settings app, sharing dialogs, and the overview screen.
Android O supports high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs such as LDAC codec and this ought to appeal to audiophiles. Also, there’s a new native AAudio API that’s designed specifically for apps that require high-performance and low-latency audio.
New Wi-Fi features are also being introduced, such as Wi-Fi Aware. This lets apps and nearby devices can discover and communicate over Wi-Fi without an internet access point.
Android O also adds better support for keyboard navigation. Google has focused on building a more reliable model for “arrow” and “tab” navigation that aids both developers and users. Users can also add, or shift navigation keys. This should make one hand usage of larger phones more plausible.
If you want to check it out, you’ll have to manually download and flash the updates. That said, images are out for the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus Player and Pixel C. Google said that O will come to the Android Beta Program as they near the final product. Do note that this version is pretty unstable and we do not recommend that it be used as a daily driver.