Google has announced the latest version of Android and unsurprisingly is Android O. O comes after N which was Android Nougat. And the first developer preview is landing today giving is a very early look of what to expect from Android O. Features that will be ready when the update rolls out later this year. So lets dive-in and have a look at the top 10 features of Android O.
1. Notification Channels
In Android O, notifications can now be grouped by type, and you will have more control on the Notification that you see. For example you can change how new Apps notify you or how a music player might show you a persistent notification. Basically, this means we are getting more ways to control the flood of notifications coming to our devices. This will help people separate the signal from the noise with the more important notifications filtered to the top.
2. Background Limits (Better Battery life)
This is a big under-the-hood change that would potentially give a big difference to battery life on Android O. The new version puts certain restrictions of what Apps can do in the background like location updates, broadcasts of other apps to pick up on and activities that continue running on the app in the background. This is a continuation of the work Google started in Nougat, like dose on the go which is part of this push to make Android more battery efficient.
3. Picture and Picture (PnP) on phone and tables
This is the ability to have two app screens like a minimized video in front of a spreadsheet app. PnP lets you shrink down an App to the floating section which you can then bounce around in the foreground, while you work on other Apps in the background. Now PnP, was technically possible on Android Nougat, although in practice it was basically limited to Android TV, so bringing it to phones and tables is going to open this feature up to many more people. This feature is already available to iPad users so they know how useful it can be.
4. Auto-fill APIs
Google is making it easier to use Password Managers and similar tools in Android O with these new APIs. In O, Apps can set themselves up as Auto-fill providers and Save Passwords and other types of information that you might want to otherwise copy and paste. The idea behind this just like you can switch between keyboard apps on Android with this feature you will still be able to switch between Password manager Apps with Auto fill.
5. Adaptive Icons
This is built on the work that Google has done with circular icons on the Pixel devices but it also helps manufacturers (OEM) wanting to bring their own look and feel to Android’s App icons.
In O, Apps can be given a custom mask kind of like a cookie cutter and they can be in form of a square or circle or in between. We’ve seen some custom implementation of this in Huawei, Samsung, LG and others and it has always been kind of a mess each OEM doing things doing things a little bit differently. So bringing this to the OS level in this new version of Android will ensure that wherever icons appear look nice and consistent.
6. Fonts for developers
This doesn’t make a huge difference for normal users, but for developers its just an easy way to have full control over the fonts used in your apps. This doesn’t affect any fonts that your device maker might have included it just makes it easier for developers to work with fonts in their own Apps.
7. Wide -gamut color support for Apps
In O, developers will be able to use wide-gamut color profiles in their apps such as Adobe RGB, Pro-photo RGB and DCIP3. So what does this mean? As phone and tablet displays become better, it opens Android devices to professional apps that use these profiles. There have been all kind of rumors that Google might be talking with Android tablet convertibles, and this is a small piece of the puzzle which makes better for content creators.
8. Connectivity Features
The new version will be support for high-quality Bluetooth audio through Sony’s L-DAC codec. This is important as most people are shifting to wireless headphones. On top of that, O introduces the new A-audio API for audio latency. Audio latency has been a weakness in Android and just like wide color gamut, this is something that will be important for Audio content creators.
Android O will be support to WiFi Aware. This is something that will work like Apple’s i-Becon. This will enable device connect to each other without a separate WiFi Access point. With WiFi Aware in O, an App can send you information from other devices around you or you can share information and messages to people around you without using mobile data or a separate WiFi access point. This could be useful at shopping malls and concert venues.
Finally the tele-call framework has been updated for third-party calling apps.
9. Better Webviews
Webviews are the things that let developers show you web content in apps like when you click a weblink in Facebook or Twitter, Android O makes Webviews more secure. Web content is still an important part of Android and so helping developers make it more secure and less crashing is a win for everyone.
10. Improved Keyboard Navigation
This is going to be an important part of Android on Chrome books even though most high-end Chrome books include a touch screen, you still need a solid keyboard experience. And in O, Google is helping developers include better support for navigating around with Arrow keys and tab keys.
We shall get to know about more of these features at the Google I/O event in May.