First of all, if you’re looking for revolutionary or radical changes in the user interface (UI) of Android 8.0, you won’t find it. Those who are familiar with the native version of Android won’t have to make any adjustments because the design language is basically unchanged.
However, Android O does offer important tweaks, as well as several new details.
New notification options
The new options include the display of missed messages. Google now displays a plain dot symbol in the upper right corner of an app’s icon; Apple and Samsung, which have been offering this feature for a while now, also specify the exact number of unread messages. Holding down an app icon for a moment opens the corresponding context menu in a
In addition to making it possible for the user to read an excerpt from the message, this also provides the user with two further-reaching context-specific interaction options. This is similar to Apple’s 3D Touch system. For example, the home screen directly allows you to launch the email app, open tabs, access favorites or call up navigation destinations. It also enables you to position suitable widgets on the screen. However, we find that the message preview is so small that it’s hardly usable. Google had, to some extent, already introduced the context options in Android 7.1, but Android O expands on them.
Google has also expanded the reminder options. Now, moving the notification slabs to the side uncover the clock and settings symbols. You can use the clock to push the alarm into a waiting loop, which tells it to go off again a few minutes later. The settings wheel also allows the user to perform general operations for its respective app. It also enables you to completely deactivate the signals associated with a specific tool.
Furthermore, Android O introduces notification channels for app classes. Essentially, this allows you to specify the alarm options associated with these channels individually, in order to ensure that all the apps belonging to a certain type get the same kind of treatment. As a result, it enhances ease of use and reduces the ‘irritation factor’ of push notifications.
The native Google-Android system has been offering a multiwindow mode since version 7. Android 8 expands on this by including a picture-in-picture mode, which is similar to those found in TV sets (Android TV etc.). The beta version 3 allows you to use a trick to activate
the picture-in-picture mode for YouTube, e.g visit YouTube using the Chrome browser, ‘‘Request desktop version” using the three-point menu, switch over to the full-screen mode and press the home button. The system then generates a small and moveable window, which is positioned on top of all the other contents. If you tap this window once,
the system will enlarge it and display control bars. You won’t be able to make out too much data in the tiny window, but it should still come in handy if you want to take a look at something while you’re using video telephony functions associated with messaging apps.
Faster updates, longer battery life
However, one of the most important changes has been made on the inside. Google wants to bring updates into the market at a higher speed, and thereby protect third-party devices as well. Within the context of ‘Project Treble’, Google is separating the Android framework from low-level software like drivers, thereby obtaining update-sovereignty over
system-specific changes. Although this doesn’t exactly solve Google’s update problem, it does indeed minimise it. After all, even device drivers often contain security-critical bugs. Third-party manufacturers will continue to bear the responsibility for drivers.
Furthermore, Google’s Project Vital aims to improve Android’s security and energy management systems, while declaring war on energy guzzlers. The system now rigorously curtails background activities of programmes like location finding and WiFi network scans. It also will have a new interface for important synchronization tasks. What’s particularly
cool is the option that allows you to ensure that only specific tools within the system are allowed to install apps from unknown sources.
For example, this allows users to use third-party open-source stores like F-Droid without exposing themselves to the danger of drive-by downloads and installations in the browser.
The list of new features doesn’t end here. Along with new emojis, Google has also integrated a system tuner. However, its capabilities are changing quite drastically from beta to beta, so we don’t know if it’s any good at the moment. If you prefer, the wireless chip can be activated automatically when a known WiFi network is in the vicinity. For
audiophiles, Android O will provide support for the AptX and AptX-HD Bluetooth audio codecs, which promise CD-quality sound.
Furthermore, Android O also introduces new programme interfaces (APIs), such as one
that auto-fill texts, which makes it easy for password managers to do their work. The system has also introduced an interface for SMS verifications. And last but not least, the system features a useful type recognition function for marked texts. Using this, you can mark a telephone number or address and the system will generate a context menu that recommends the correct app for the contents in question.
Android O, ready to roll out
All in all, the beta version of Android O – currently available for the latest Pixel models and the Nexus 5X and 6P smartphones only – is quite stable.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t use it on production systems. Although we do like the new features, some of them feel a little fiddly and appear too small on smartphone screens.
Google is scheduled to release the final version in the third quarter (August or September) and at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018, major mobile phone manufacturers are expected to distribute Android 8 across all top models that were released within an 18 to 24-month support period following initial release. Of course, this
means that several midrange models and ex-flagships will be left out in the cold. After all, Google is going to have to do a lot of work before
Android smartphones can be updated as flexible as Windows PCs. The first thing they have to do is clarify the usual sweet-based code name of the OS. A person in authority mentioned ‘Oreo’ in a tweet, which we have yet to confirm as of the time of writing. This year, we’re inclined to believe that ‘Oreo’ is the right choice, but we’ll have to see what the people at Google ultimately decide.
Hope my article “What’s new in Android Oreo?” helps you to understand the new features of Android Oreo.