The next version of Android – code-named O – inches ever closer. As a matter of fact, Google released preview builds of O for developers to tinker with, to better optimize their apps once this newest version of Android hits the market later this year.
Tech journalists expect Google to reveal more about Android O soon at its upcoming I/O Conference, along with Android Wear, updates on Daydream VR and Chrome OS, and Android Auto.
For now, at least, we will focus our speculation on the solid tidbits that we know about this latest version of Android.
Google started rolling out the Developer Preview version of Android O for developers and enthusiasts alike. Those interested in testing out its early features should manually download and install the build from authorized Google sites and blogs.
As is the norm for Google, only Nexus and Pixel devices are compatible with this software beta-testing phase. Those devices are the new Google Pixel and Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C tablet, and the Nexus Player. This first-in-line policy has long been the advantage of the Google-developed hardware, trumping other Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) like Samsung and LG with their sluggish software updates.
However, Google stresses that these preview builds are strictly for testing, and all features are subject to change once developers have provided feedback.
What’s in a Name
Keeping up with the dessert-themed naming of their major software updates, plenty of tech geeks are speculating on what O could mean.
Most fans say it could be Oreo, the precedent set by Android 4.4 Kitkat several versions ago. It may very well be Oatmeal Cookie, though some Android news sites poke fun at its likelihood.
Regardless, we doubt the tech press would object to whatever Google ends up deciding on the elusive name – even if it winds up being ‘Ozark Pudding.’
Restraining Battery Hogs
Android Nougat came with Doze, a battery-saving feature that suspended app activity while the phone is locked and inside a pocket. Android O picks up on this, adding new restrictions on apps with unnecessary background activity and preserving precious battery life by preventing, say, spam notifications and location updates.
Adjustments on Notifications
It is easy to get confused and overwhelmed by notifications, especially if you have a ton of apps installed. With Android O’s categorized notifications, it will be simpler to prioritize which notifications you want to see and dismiss obtrusive and unnecessary ones.
Another new feature is the ability to snooze notifications so that you can attend to them at a more convenient time. Several tests demonstrated the interface/gestures are acting a little finicky, which we expect Google to fine-tune before releasing the final version.
Work and Play on the Same Screen
Another exciting feature is the picture-in-picture functionality; it shrinks down video apps like Netflix or YouTube into a windowed mode so users can keep watching while doing tasks in other apps.
Picture-in-picture is different from the split-screen multitasking function introduced in Nougat, where apps merely run side by side.
We expect Google to announce more features in the coming months and at the I/O conference, and post updates on this article accordingly. Android fragmentation will likely prevent other non-Nexus, non-Pixel devices from getting Android O when it comes out, but if anything happens otherwise, we will keep you posted.