Android O Developer Preview : New Features And Enhancements That You Must Know
In a rather unexpected move, Google has released the first developer preview for next version of its mobile OS - Android O (v8.0). It is codenamed Android 'O', but we are conveniently assuming that the O stands for Oreo.
Being the first developer preview, one cannot really expect it to be stable enough. Even Google wrote in the post that "it's early days, there are more features coming, and there's still plenty of stabilization and performance work ahead of us. But it's booting :)." Also, being in the nascent stages of stability, the preview will not be available on Android Beta program, which means no more easy OTA updates for now. Google has posted factory images for the Nexus 5X, 6P, Player, and the Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C. You can find the installation instructions in this post.
By the looks of it, we do not really see any path-breaking features or UI changes. It looks like that this time Google has focused more on the core values of the operating system. However, there are still many features that you must know about. We have listed them below.
Here are some of the major Android O features
Android O comes with an all new notification channel, which provides the ability to have group notifications from apps. It means that you can now cluster your notifications under a type, for example - sports notifications that will store all the info about sports that comes in the app. It will give wider control to the users to oversee apps and the content that pops up in the notification bar.
Picture In Picture (PiP)
This feature shall come handy to those who watch a lot of videos on their Android devices. It allows users to put a video into a PiP mode when they want to switch to a new app. The mode is pretty much like what we see on YouTube, it resizes the video window into a small PiP placed at the bottom right corner whenever a user taps on the back button. The videos remain paused in the PiP and the playback starts once the user opens them.
This feature is aimed at offering better keyboard control to Android apps on Chrome OS. It offers enhanced arrow and tab keyboard navigation within apps. Google said that "with the advent of Android Apps on Chrome OS and other large form factors, we’re seeing a resurgence of keyboard navigation use within Android apps.”
To offer better customization with the UI, Android O allows users to create adaptive icons, which are displayed in different shapes on the screen. There are also corresponding animated actions that kick off when you touch the icons.
It is also aimed at helping developers to carry out activities on Chrome OS. With the multi-display support, developers will be able to use remote display to launch activities.
This one focuses on reducing the background data usage and increasing battery life. Android O has an assorted control over the app, it can limit the amount of data used by an app in the background, which in turn enhances the battery life. There are three types of limits that will be used by the OS to restrict data consumption - implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates.
Wide-Gamut Color for Apps
It allows Android developers to make full use of imaging apps on the devices that feature wide-gamut color display. To make use of the feature, developers have to enable a flag in their app's manifest for every activity. They will also have to upload bitmaps and embedded wide color profile (AdobeRGB, Pro Photo RGB, DCI-P3, etc.).
Enhanced Connectivity and Audio
Android O comes with high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs - the LDAC codec. It also has new Wi-Fi features such as Wi-Fi Aware formerly known as Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN. On the compatible devices, this feature would be able to communicate without the internet connection.
In the blog post, Google said that it is currently working with its hardware partners to make Wi-Fi Aware technology available to devices shortly. In addition, the Telecom framework is bringing ConnectionService APIs to support third party calling apps integrate with System UI, to make it compatible with other apps too.
Partner Platform Contributions
Hardware and software makers have come together for Android O to make it more reliable and significant. Google states as an example that "Sony has contributed more than 30 feature enhancements including the LDAC codec and 250 bug fixes to Android O."
AAudio API for Pro Audio
Android O features AAudio, which is a new native API designed particularly for apps that require high-performance and low-stress audio. The apps associated with AAudio read and write data via streams. In the Developer Preview, Google released an early version of the new AAudio API for Pro Audio feature.
Java 8 Language APIs
With Android O onboard, Android supports a new java.time API, which makes the runtime faster and 2x improvements in app benchmarks.
These were the new features on Android O. Stay tuned with us to get more info on further developments in Android O and revelations regarding its future releases.