Home / Android / Android O latest rumours – name, release date, features & public beta – PC Advisor

Android O latest rumours – name, release date, features & public beta – PC Advisor

Google has made available the public beta of Android O, meaning everyone (everyone with a compatible Nexus or Pixel device) can try out the upcoming OS and see the new features ahead of its final release later this summer. Also see: How to watch Google I/O 2017

Android O focuses on ‘fluid experiences’ and vitals, with new features headlining during its first public appearance at Google I/O 2017 including picture in picture (multi-windowing mode), notification dots (long-press an app shortcut to view the notification right there onscreen), autofill (like in Chrome but now in apps), and Smart Text Selection (automatically recognises names, addresses and phone numbers so you don’t have to fiddle around with selection handles; it can also suggest a relevant app).

Android O is much more streamlined than Nougat with various OS optimisations. The bottom line, according to Google, is that devices boot twice as fast and all apps run faster and smoother by default.

On the subject of apps Google is also introducing Play Protect, which installs every app on a per-device basis in order to keep things ultra-secure. 

O also adds ‘wise limits’ to background processes such as location tracking to sensibly keep battery usage at a reasonable level.

The company noted that there were many more changes coming to the OS, which it didn’t have time to talk about during the keynote, including such things as a redesigned Settings menu and Project Treble – the latter in essence ensuring all users get Android OS updates much faster.

Also see: What is Android Go? and What is Google Lens?

What will the next Android OS be called?

Following Android Alpha and Android Beta, Google has always named its Android OS updates after sweet treats, and in alphabetical order. So far we’ve had Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, Marshmallow and Nougat.

Google had real difficulty deciding what to call Android N and, in the end, began a naming challenge at Google I/O 2016. That didn’t happen at I/O 2017, which means it probably already knows what it’s going to call Android O.

In 2017 Google will be looking for a sweet treat beginning with O. Trouble is, there really aren’t that many. The Tech Advisor team could come up with Oreo, Orange, Oatcake and Oh! Henry (the latter obviously being our favourite, given this). It could even shake things up entirely and shock us all with something like Android OMG. (We’re joking, but we kind of like it.)

A sign that the upcoming OS could be called Android Oreo was also offered at Google I/O 2017, when the attendees to the US press event were offered Oreo cookies in the press room. However, apparently they were also given out at Google I/O 2016, and at the UK press event THERE WERE NO OREOS. Where were our Oreos?

Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer has been stirring things up on Twitter, seemingly suggesting Android Oreo is the most likely candidate. But is he pulling our leg? Quite possibly, given he has also tweeted an image of Pocky (chocolate cream covered biscuit sticks) with the caption #2018. Also see: Essential Android apps and Best Android games

Android Oreo

A week later he was at it again. Is he pulling our leg?

Android Oreo

Trouble is, there are few sweet treats we can think of beginning with an O, so it could well be Android Oreo as rumoured.

What do you think the next version of Android will be called? (If you choose Other comment below and let us know what you think.)

Given that Android Marshmallow was Android 6.0 and Android Nougat was Android 7.0-7.1, we would assume that Android O will be Android 8.0. But Google hasn’t always done things this way, and Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean and KitKat were all 4.x updates. Also see: Android Nougat review

When is the Android O release date?

Android O UK release date: August/September 2017 (TBC)

Google surprised us in 2016 by taking the wraps off the Developer Preview of Android Nougat in advance of its summer Google I/O conference, and in March 2017 it did the same again with Android O.

The first public beta for Android O was then made available at Google I/O on 17 May.

The final release of Android N came in August 2016 with little fanfare and no new hardware, so the chances are we’ll see the company follow that same format in 2017. (The new hardware came later, with the Google Pixel and Pixel XL unveiled in early October.)

Our money is on an August release for Android O, with the new Pixel 2 coming later in September or October. At Google I/O the company merely said it would be available “later this summer”. Also see: Android Nougat vs iOS 10

What are the new features coming to Android O?

With the release of the Android O Developer Preview several new features have been confirmed.

Notifications in Android O

Many of the new features regard notifications, and in Android O we will see user-customisable notification channels whereby alerts are grouped by type. Users will be able to snooze notifications, and devs can set time limits for notifications to time out. Also adjustable will be the background colours of notifications, and the messaging style.

At Google I/O 2017 we learned about notification dots – when you have a notification a small dot appears on the shortcut for that app. Long-press the app shortcut and you’ll be able to view the notification right there without pulling down the drop-down notification bar.

Smart Text Selection

Android O will be able to recognise names, addresses and phone numbers – some of the most commonly copied information types – so you no longer need to fiddle around with text handles (it will automatically select the correct portion of the text). As well as the usual copy and paste controls Android O is also able to serve up relevant app suggestions for how you might wish to use that data.

Background limits

In Android Nougat Google introduced the ability to restrict certain app activities in the background, and in Android O it improves on this by placing the priority on extending battery life without user-input.

Improved Autofill Framework

We’ve previously seen autofill in Chrome, and with Android O Google is bringing it to apps. Users will have to opt in to this service, but will then find it easier to fill in login and credit-card information forms with fewer mistakes and much less repetition. 

Picture-in-Picture mode

Picture-in-picture (a multi-windowing mode), which is already available on Android TV, is coming to Android O.

Improved keyboard control

Android O won’t be restricted to phones, so there will be improved arrow and tab key navigation for when used with a physical keyboard.

Adaptive icons

Icons in Android O will support visual effects and can be displayed in various shapes on different devices. 

Connectivity enhancements

Wi-Fi Aware will allows apps and nearby devices to discover and communicate over Wi-Fi without an internet access point. We’ll also see improved Bluetooth support for high-quality audio through the Sony LDAC codec, and new ways for third-party calling apps to work with each other and with your network operator’s special features.

We discussed Android O in our podcast:

Multi-display support

Interestingly, Android O will be able to support multiple displays, allowing a user to move an activity to one screen to the next.

Better management of cached data

Every app will have a storage space quota for cached data, and when the system needs to free up disk space it will delete data from apps using more than their allocated quota first.

New enterprise features

Google says it has made the profile owner and device owner management modes more powerful, productive and easier to provision than ever, with highlights including the ability to use a managed profile on a corporate-owned device and enterprise management for file-based encryption.

You can read about the new updates coming to Android O in more detail over on the Android Developer’s site.

We were already aware of a few user-facing features coming to Android O thanks to a tip-off from VentureBeat, though there was no confirmation that they would make it through to the final build.

Copy Less

This feature is expected to ease copying text from one app and pasting it within another by giving suggestions in the second app as to what you might be about to type based on what you were doing in the previous app. VentureBeat gives the example of finding a restaurant in the Yelp app, then opening a text conversation, beginning to type ‘It’s at’ and the restaurant name popping up as a suggested term. It is currently unclear whether it will be a new feature on the Gboard virtual keyboard or baked into Android itself.

Opening addresses in Google Maps

Right now it isn’t possible to share your current location on Android as it is in iOS, but according to VentureBeat there are some new changes coming that make dealing with addresses easier. If you click on an address in a text message, in Android N it does nothing but in Android O it could open that address in Google Maps. It says it is not yet known whether this will be functional only in Google’s Messages app, or in all messaging apps on Android O.

Improved gestures

Today you can quickly call up your contacts using Ok Google, but in Android O you will be able to draw onscreen the letter C to open your contacts menu. This is similar to what we’ve seen in many Chinese phones – the ability to in standby mode draw onscreen a letter and open an app of your choice – though here it should work when the screen is switched on and in any app. This feature may not be ready in time for Android O, however, the source warned.

Will my phone get Android O?

Google phones and tablets are always the first to get new operating system updates, but even Google won’t support them forever. Security updates are provided for three years following the device’s release, or 18 months after it is removed from the Google Play Store (whichever is longer).

So, for example, the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will be supported by Google until September 2017, which means they will get both Android Nougat and this year’s Android O. The Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 were both supported until October 2016, which means they get an update to Android Nougat but not Android O. Older Nexus devices will not be upgraded.

Those with supported Nexus devices should find the update rolls out to their device following the launch of the new Nexus phones for 2016, or at least within a few weeks of launch.

If you have a recent flagship phone or tablet from a well-known maker such as Sony, Samsung, HTC, LG or Motorola, it’s likely you’ll see the update rolled out within the first few months of 2018. However, before you can get the update both the hardware manufacturer and mobile operator must be ready to roll it out, which can slow down things.

Or, at least, that has always been the case in the past. Ahead of Google I/O the company announced Project Treble, which in essence makes it easier for manufacturers to roll out operating system updates to customers faster.

In its promotion of the Moto G4 Plus, Motorola has already said it will receive Android Nougat and Android O.

If you’e running a mid-range or budget model it’s likely that you will never get Android O. Android OS fragmentation is still an issue, and at the last count on 2 May 2017 there were still devices running Gingerbread (via Android Developers).

Version

Codename

Distribution

2.3.3-2.3.7

Gingerbread

1.0%

4.0.3-4.0.4

Ice Cream Sandwich

0.8%

4.1.x

Jelly Bean

3.2%

4.2.x

Jelly Bean

4.6%

4.3

Jelly Bean

1.3%

4.4

KitKat

18.8%

5.0

Lollipop

8.7%

5.1

Lollipop

23.3%

6.0

Marshmallow

31.2%

7.0

Nougat

6.6%

7.1

Nougat

0.5%

What else is rumoured for future Android operating systems?

Smart drag and drop

Google has recently been awarded a patent for a new form of drag and drop that allows you to share content between apps. You might, for example, drag an address from a text message and drop it into Maps, or a forwarded photo straight into Photos.

Android smart drag and drop

Android Andromeda

Andromeda is a Google operating system that is in essence a mash-up of Chrome OS and Android and has been rumoured for about as long as we can remember.

When Hiroshi Lockheimer tweeted in late September that Google’s October event was going to be as memorable as the one in which Google announced Android (not his exact words – see below), the internet went crazy trying to guess what it is that could possibly warrant such hype.

The only logical suggestion was Andromeda, but of course what we actually got was the first ‘Made by Google’ phones.

However, Andromeda is still allegedly on the cards, and Android Police assures us that Andromeda is an actual thing and not the figment of many Google fan’s creative imaginations.

It points to a Wall Street Journal report that Google was intending to fold the two operating systems into one to better suit a range of hardware platforms. This would open the doors to a new market sector in which Google has previously tried and failed: the lucrative world of laptops.

According to WSJ Andromeda won’t see the light until 2017, which means we might not see Android O at all.

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.


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