Everything new in Android O
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Android O release scheduleThe Android O release will ultimately become Android 8.0 with the most popular guess still being Android Oreo. Earlier this year, Google shared a timeline for the rollout of each preview build. The first developer preview arrived in mid-March, with the second developer preview dropping during Google I/O in mid-May, and the third in mid-June. The fourth and final preview arrived in mid-July, right on schedule. The public version of Android 8.0 will be out for supported Pixel, Nexus and Android One devices sometime in Q3, most likely in late August or early September.
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Pixel “powered by Android” boot screen addedThe title says it all, the “powered by Android” logo now appears under the colorful G logo on the boot screen for Pixel devices.Notification DotsMany custom Launcher users already know the power of a notification icon on top of an app icon on your Homescreen. We even used Tasker to build our own once, but now Google is building it into Android. Android O users will see a small dot that appears over top of their app icons with active notifications. This is where the magic starts, now that your app has an icon, new tools are available – Long-press
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Performance and bug fixesA lot of early adopters have noted several performance improvements and bug fixes in the final dev preview. The battery drain issue that put a lot of folks off the third developer preview seems to have been corrected and the camera launch delay has also been fixed. Multiple other improvements have been mentioned around the interwebs.Font, lock screen, and notifications changesThere are a few font changes in the final dev preview. On the lock screen, the clock is slightly smaller and the date is no longer in all caps. In the status bar, the battery percentage is slightly bolder and the carrier info and time have been given a little more space on the left and right respectively.In the toggles area at the top of the notifications shade, the date is now in a slightly less condensed font which makes it a little more more legible at a glance and the card-like spacer between the toggles and the notifications has been removed.
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Persistent background apps notificationWhile having a quick and easy way to see which apps are running in the background (and potentially draining your battery) sounds like a good thing, the implementation introduced in developer preview 3 is less than ideal. An Android system notification lives in your tray near-permanently, constantly reminding you how many apps are running in the background.
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Camera appIn the camera app double-tapping zooms in 50 percent and there’s now a dedicated button for switching between the photo and video modes. Previously you could only swipe between the modes, which might have kept it a bit of a secret for some users. Now a camera button appears to the left of the record button in video mode, and a video button appears to the right of the shutter button in photo mode.
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New icon shape: teardropGoogle is going to war with bad, mismatched and irregularly sized icons. In developer preview 3 you can choose from the default system app shape, square, rounded square, squircular and now teardrop. Teardrop essentially forces adaptive app icons into an Allo-like shape.
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Fluid ExperiencesAnnounced at Google I/O 2017, Fluid Experiences is Google’s way of helping you be more productive and enjoy multi-tasking tools in your everyday use.TensorFlow Lite is a new scaled-down version of Google’s machine learning tool, Tensor Flow. The new tool assists lower powered devices to keep up with the today’s demanding processes. TensorFlow Lite uses techniques like LSTM to improve your experience. Android O has a new framework from Android, it will hardware accelerate neural network features, helping keep some of the AI components on device, avoiding the need to find an online server to compute things like actions on text selections. Watch for these features in a later update to Android O.Picture-in-PictureA familiar phrase and tool in many televisions, within the YouTube app on Android and, yes, in iOS. Google is adding a Picture-in-Picture mode to Android O. With a YouTube video playing, just tap the Home button and the video will pop into a small window that can remain on screen as you navigate other apps on your device. You can slide the video around for best placement, then simply slide it off the screen to terminate. Available now in the Android O Beta.Smart Text SelectionWe’ve all seen the basic text highlighting features, the copy/paste dialogue in Android, but now there’s more. With Android O, highlighting text includes further features, using Google AI to intelligently act on the words. For instance, if you highlight a phone number, you can just tap to dial. If you highlight an address, a single tap will start navigation. Best of all, highlighting is more intelligent itself, selecting phrases or full addresses, for example, instead of just single words.VitalsWho wants better battery life? Android O will soon include features under the banner Vitals, including security tools, OS optimizations and tools for developers to better suite your device usage. At Google I/O 2017, the Android team announced Google Play Protect, think of it as a virus scanner for Android apps. So far, the team reports having scanned over 50 billion app installs every day. You’ll see an entry in your Google Play app update window, showing your most recent scan and if there were any issues found. Optimizations in the OS have the team reporting that Pixel devices are booting up in nearly half the time as before. This speed bump goes for apps as well. Extensive changes to the runtime, including things like concurrent, compacting garbage collection and code locality, but in Google’s words, your apps just run faster. More on this later.Wise Limits will apply to background services, preventing apps from running in the background for too long. The goal is to dramatically reduce battery consumption, keeping you up and running through your day.Play Console Dashboard is a new developer tool that provides analytics on app device usage. Developers will be able to see live results of their app running on any Android device – this may not eliminate the need for developers to test their app on most major phones, but it certainly will help them narrow down an issue if a device is acting up. Best of all, the in-depth tools provide insight on how devs can adjust their applications to reduce battery consumption and speed up execution on various devices.You obviously won’t see these as a feature on your Android O device, but you will certainly enjoy the improved performance.
Other stuffThere’s plenty of other stuff worth noting too, but a lot of which we can’t see in effect yet. Android O adds font support so app developers can define font style and weight. This could either be a great development or a clusterfont if you’ll pardon my language.Wi-Fi Awareness allows your Android O device or app to communicate with other devices and apps in the vicinity over Wi-Fi without requiring an actual internet connection. There are also some major optimizations to the Android Run-Time (ART) responsible for handling your apps and WebView has also seen some enhancements you’re unlikely to ever even notice.App badgesAndroid O finally adds native support for app badges (later known as “notification dots”). They’re the little number bubble that shows up on an app icon to show you your unread notification count and are yet another custom launcher feature being absorbed into stock Android. Of course, you’ll have complete control over these at the flick of a toggle in the individual app notification settings.
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Settings menuThe Settings menu is where most of the visual changes look to be taking place in the Android O release. For starters there’s a new color scheme: both the Pixels and Nexus devices get a black and white approach but you’ll still see their individual blue tones used for accents here and there.The Settings menu itself has received a bit of a reshuffle as well. I won’t bore you with what section moved into which other section, so take a look at the screenshots below to see for yourself. The slide-out navigation drawer and hamburger menu icon have both been removed in this developer preview.The major change in Android O is that the Settings menu is much shorter than it was in Nougat, with no more umbrella categories like “wireless and networks,” “device,” “personal” and “system”. Instead, Android O has more descriptive sections that cover more ground, like “networks and internet,” “connected devices,” “apps and notifications” and “security and screen lock”.
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Do not disturbDo not disturb simply shows two toggles: one for enabling a do not disturb mode toggle under the volume slider and another for adding a volume button shortcut so do not disturb turns on when you press the volume down button once more after vibration only.Navigation barNext up is the navigation bar, which adds a bunch of cool options in Android O. There’s a layout option that lets you choose between normal, compact, left-leaning or right-leaning (which will come in handy on large-screened devices).
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Lock screenThe lock screen in Android O looks the same as in Nougat but you have options buried in the System UI Tuner for mixing things up. Rather than the shortcuts in the bottom left and right corners for voice assist and the camera, you can change these to whatever you like. The list of options is absolutely huge, making us think it’s a definite Android 8.0 feature.Since we’re talking about the lock screen, Ambient Display has also been revised. While this is more than likely just a developer preview issue, most of the time Ambient Display will only display the clock and some tiny app icons for any notifications awaiting you. With some app notifications, however, like Hangouts for example, you’ll see more information displayed, but only when the notification first comes in.
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AudioSony donated their LDAC codec to Google for inclusion in Android O. That means if you have LDAC-equipped Bluetooth headphones you’ll get much better quality in Android 8.0. But the fun isn’t just restricted to LDAC, Android O also has support for aptX and aptX HD as well as SBC and AAC. There are also settings for audio sample rates and bits per sample too, plus Android O adds a native AAudio API for apps that require high fidelity, low latency audio.
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Unknown sourcesAdding apps from anywhere outside Google Play typically just required you to hit your security settings and enable Unknown Sources. But in Android O things get taken up a notch. You’ll now also have to grant permission to the app you’re using to download the APK.For example, if you want to download an APK via Chrome, you’ll first be prompted to give Chrome permission to install other apps via the “trust apps from this source” toggle in the special access section of the apps and notifications setting. You only need to do this once per app however and you can always revoke permission at a later date.
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ConclusionWith only a few weeks of bug squashing left, Android O is shaping up to follow very much in Nougat’s footsteps, completing some of the work started in Nougat and further strengthening the granular nature of control in Android. Hope you all liked the thread...