The next version of Google’s mobile operating system is on its way
Android O (the update to last year’s Android Nougat) doesn’t have an official release date yet, but beta developer versions are now in their fourth innings. This has given us the chance to take a sneak peek at it, and six new features really stood out:
1. Improved battery life
Android Nougat lets us manually restrict some background app activities, but Android O is taking this a step further by doing it automatically. Without any input from us, it’ll limit what certain apps can do when they’re open in the background.
According to Android, these changes will make it easier to create apps that “have minimal impact on a user's device and battery”.
2. New notification channels
Android O will help us manage our notifications by grouping them into channels. So rather than receiving everything together, we’ll be able to sort them into subjects such as ‘tech news’.
3. Picture-in-picture viewing
Android O will make it possible to view videos on your phone in a picture-in-picture (PiP) mode. That means you’ll be able to view a video on the corner of your screen when you’re in another app. If this sounds familiar, then it’s the kind of thing you can do already with videos when you’re in the YouTube app. But now it’s much more useful - you’ll be able to do things like watch your favourite Netflix show while tracking your Uber driver’s arrival, or firing off an important email.
4. Better sounds
Android O has a few ways to keep us better connected up its sleeve. Bluetooth connectivity is being improved, so we’ll be to stream to our headphones and wireless speakers at a higher quality. That’s right - our favourite tunes are going to sound better than ever. If Android smartphones follow Apple in removing the audio jack, we could soon be listening to Spotify through USB Type-C ports... time will tell.
5. Adaptive icons
Icon packs are more popular than ever, and Android O’s new adaptive icons are going to make them even better. We’ll see new visual effects and animations, and icons will be able to adapt their look and feel to different devices. So whether you’ve got a Sony or a Samsung Android phone, the same icon will be able to integrate with your interface without looking completely out of place.
6. Never miss an emoji
These days, emojis are a powerful tool of communication. A winky face can change the context of a whole message, making it pretty frustrating (and sometimes confusing) if you don't receive the image. Thankfully the next version of the OS will tackle this with something called Emoji Compact support, keeping Android devices up to date with the latest collection of emojis.
When is Android O coming?
There’s no official launch date for Android O yet, and there’s no official name for it either. However, Google says that we should expect a full version some time in the near coming months. Google has recently been trolling developers with the below image of an octopus, which does begin with O, but doesn't necessarily mean the next version of Android will be called Android Octopus.
All of the versions so far have been named after treats (in order of release): Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat.
If you’ve got any thoughts on Android O, comment below. Do you have any ideas on what the name will be? Can it really be anything other than Oreo? Let us know what you think.