What’s new in Android O?
It was expected last May, it is now official. Android with an O like Oreo is the eighth version of Google’s mobile operating system. This Android 8.0 comes with a slew of new features. These have been tested and improved throughout the beta period that ended this week.
The update offers improved battery life and performance, as well as security measures, simplified text selection, and picture-in-picture mode for enhanced multitasking.
Better autonomy thanks to Vitals
Once Android O is installed, you can expect more autonomy with the Google Vitals program. The firm has added what it calls “wise limitations” to create automatic caps on what your apps can do in the background. These limitations will reduce the excessive use of background services and location updates, so your applications will not be able to impact your autonomy too much when you’re not using them.
Notifications displayed on application icons
Android O allows users to see the notifications they missed without having to lower the notification bar at the top of the screen. Applications with missed notifications will include a badge of the color of the icon. You can quickly browse your home screen for an inventory. A feature familiar to iOS users with the red badge on the icons. By long pressing an icon with a notification badge, a menu will open, displaying these missed notifications.
The Vitals project at the heart of the development of Android O also brings more speed and better performance for Android devices. At the IO conference, one of the Android directors, Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson, explained that she saw Pixel smartphones start twice as fast, as did the opening of the Google Sheets app.
Picture-in-Picture mode for videos
Now you can continue watching your YouTube videos or video calls while switching from one application to another, thanks to the picture embedded in the system. We have not been able to make this feature work despite installing the latest developer preview on a Nexus 6P, but Google has officially announced it at the Google IO conference.
IOS users can already enjoy this picture in picture mode, but only on iPad. This feature will be integrated with all Android devices when upgrading to Android O. Users will only have to press the Home button from an application that supports it, such as YouTube, to continue to watch a video from another application. Videos can be closed simply by swiping the thumbnail towards the bottom of the screen.
Forms filled out automatically
Autofill will allow users to simply complete mobile forms with information previously collected elsewhere. That’s how Dave Burke, Android’s vice president of engineering, was able to automatically enter his Twitter username and password on an Android device by demonstrating at the conference. Applications with Autofill will be able to store and secure user data such as their address, nicknames or passwords.
Automatic activation of Wi-Fi
A new smart feature will automatically enable smartphone Wi-Fi based on the location of the smartphone. In this way, the device can activate Wi-Fi and connect directly to the home network of the user when he arrives at home and without having any action to perform.
To activate this function, you must follow the following path: Networks> Internet> WiFi> WiFi preferences. An intelligent option that saves its data envelope without manually activating Wi-Fi.
Google Play Protect for added security
The more we depend on our smartphones, the more security becomes important. That’s why we appreciate that Google has launched Google Play Protect, a new security suite that can scan applications for threats. It also makes it possible to constantly check the latest risks, which can be found and detected thanks to machine learning. If the suite detects such an application on your smartphone, it will automatically be removed from your device or tablet.
An automatic text selection to save time
One of the most annoying things about a smartphone is fumbling with your fingers to select a specific piece of text. The Android Smart Text Selection feature makes it easy to select addresses, names, or other things to automatically choose the right amount of text by tapping it. Android uses artificial intelligence for this feature, but Google officials promise that the text will remain on your device and will not be sent to the cloud.
Icons that will fit
Your screen will be more customizable with Android O, since the icons will change when you use your device, with themes and animations that adapt when you interact with them. Concretely, the icons will be deformed and move when you press them, and their edges and colors will adjust over time. We cannot wait to see a home screen with all these icons that come alive like a Pixar movie, without stopping there, just in contrast to the wallpaper.
Shortcuts and custom widgets
Oreo makes it possible to personalize even more the home screen of Android with shortcuts and widgets more precise. By pressing and holding an icon, a menu appears with several separate buttons. Each indicates how the shortcut will act when it is activated from the home screen. In our example, we added a shortcut to the “I feel lucky” feature of Google Play Music.
More colorful displays
Some Android smartphones have screens that can display wide color gamuts. With Android O, devices will natively gain the ability to display these colors. If it depends on developers and builders, we hope to see in the future see more vibrant colors on applications like Instagram with this new feature.
Better Bluetooth audio connection
Bluetooth headsets have the advantage of offering sound without any cable. However, this is sometimes at the expense of audio quality. Android O will change that with support for better Bluetooth connections, such as Sony’s LDAC codec for hi-res audio.
Love them or hate them, the Google Blob are gone. In their place, Google incorporates emojis in Android Oreo, which is closer to those of iOS. Several emojis illustrating objects have also been modified. In total, Google promises 60 new emojis in Oreo.
The good news for those who will not see the update to Oreo for some time is that they will still be able to use this new emojis. Google has created a library for developers to display in their applications, even if they run on an older version of Android.
More keyboard shortcuts
Users of Pixel C or Bluetooth keyboards connected to their tablet can rejoice: Google says that Android O will integrate better management of keyboard shortcuts for its Tab keys and directional arrows. This will allow you to walk much more easily in a Google Doc file.
Better audio quality
Not only will Android benefit from better sound quality for Bluetooth headset users, but the mobile system will overall deliver better sound. Android O’s new AAudio technology is designed specifically for high-performance applications with low audio latency, according to Google. A first version of the API is already available for their developers to get their feedback.
Android TV, the system for connected TVs, will receive a new interface for its home screen with the update to Android O. The focus is on channels, a set of content that refers to specific content, with quick glimpses. A row “Watch Next” highlights episodes of programs you have already seen or movies that you have not finished. A row “Favorites” will highlight your main applications. And, thanks to Google’s artificial intelligence, Google Assistant will directly integrate Android TV, so you can search directly for content using your voice.
A simplified settings menu
With Oreo, Google has further refined the settings menu to facilitate the discovery of its various sections. Thus, the long drop-down menu of Nougat has disappeared.
Categories like Display, Sound, and Storage make it easy to navigate the menus. And as before, it is still possible to use the search icon to find the desired section.
Oreo makes it easy to use Android’s accessibility features. An associated button is now in the navigation bar, which provides quick access to related features such as magnification or text-to-speech. The audio is not forgotten and different volume controls are put in place to differentiate the sound of the accessibility functions from that of the multimedia contents.
Potentially faster updates
One of the criticisms that can be made to Android is that its updates often take their time to arrive at the entire park installed. Nougat, for example, can only be installed today on 13% of Android devices.
Google’s project is to reduce the fragmentation of the market between all versions of its operating system. In this sense, Oreo offers a modular architecture designed to facilitate its deployment to manufacturers.
Reducing the size of applications
Applications should take up less space on a smartphone equipped with Oreo. The latest version of Android does not force developers to integrate funds with their software, which reduces the size. And Oreo continues to take advantage of Android Instant App that let the user access certain features of an application without having to download it.