Android O is the next version of Google’s mega-popular mobile operating system set to release later in 2017. It’s currently in the midst of a developer preview, which you can join if you have a Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X or Pixel C.
This big Android update for 2017 will continue its extended beta following its official Google IO 2017 unveiling and will likely debut in full first on the Google Pixel 2.
We’ve already seen a healthy list of new features out of the developer preview, both visual and performance-based, that are worth getting excited about even if the new version doesn’t make groundbreaking changes like Material Design did in Android Lollipop.
Stay tuned in the months ahead as we uncover many more new features in future developer previews. But for now, follow along as we dive into a list of confirmed features, some of which are available right now in the dev preview.
If you want to try Android O out for yourself, feel free to follow the instructions in the link below, but be warned that the developer preview in intended for developers (hence the name).
- Here’s how to install Android O right now
Confirmed Android O features
Picture in Picture (PiP) mode
As is already seen on the iPad and some bespoke third-party launchers for Android, this would natively allow you to have one supported app remain lay on top of another separate app.
This is a minor feature, but one that makes multitasking less of a compromise than split-window mode and more of a relaxed experience. Unfortunately, while settings for PiP do appear in the first developer preview, the feature doesn’t seem to be working as intended just yet.
Restricted background activities
This is a power-saving feature that de-prioritizes app functions running in the background, which in turn means that your battery is going to possibly last much longer than it currently does on Android Nougat.
Paired with likely improvements to the Doze function that intelligently saves battery during down-time, it’s feasible that Android O could help squeeze an extra handful of hours out of your phone.
Each new version of Android seems to bring along an update to notifications and O is no exception. Nougat allowed you to take action right within the notification panel and as we’ve seen in the first developer preview, now developers can grant even greater power to users to toggle settings that usually require digging through menu after menu.
Although confirmed, we’ve yet to see this feature in full bloom. The first developer preview shows that the settings have been reconfigured, but these changes seem to be laying the framework for the new tweaks to come down the line.
We’ll likely see Google talk more about this one soon, as it could really make life easier for those who get buried in notifications.
Adaptive app icons
As the name suggests, Google has introduced strict design guidelines for developers to adhere to that will help to create a unified visual style across more apps.
In addition, these new app icons will animate based on user interaction and...have you seen the animation demo? Look up. It looks awesome, no?
Boosted audio performance
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the first Android phone to come installed with Bluetooth 5, a technology that will widen the bandwidth and raise the speed limit in the wireless pipeline for your content to travel through and thus, enhance the quality of audio content sent wirelessly between your phone and headphones.
And while many devices will follow suit, audio quality on Android is going to get yet another boost thanks to Android O’s native support for LDAC, Sony’s hi-res Bluetooth audio codec.
In the developer options, we’re already seeing tons of options for tweaking the bitrate for audio and we expect more advancements to come down the line. This one could be a big deal, especially for those holding out on buying into the best wireless headphones.
App icon badges
An oldie that's been knocking around for years on iOS and some third-party launchers, this would bring an at-a-glance notification number bubbles to app icons on the homescreen as a native Android feature.
In the notification settings, we noticed that there is a spot that asks if users want to display a badge. Odd that Google didn’t outright announce this feature, but maybe it’s because it doesn’t work as intended in the first dev preview.
If you have any questions about Android O as the developer preview presses on, feel free to send me a message on Twitter and I’d be more than happy help out.