Ever since the first Android mobile operating system was released back in 2008, it has been a very fluid bit of software. The operating system has evolved with the fast and ever-changing mobile computing market and has grown to be the most popular mobile operating system in the world.
With every newer version of Android, we’ve seen various iterative updates and improvements in UI, features, app-handling, security, and accessibility compared to its predecessors.
Accordingly, Google has announced its latest version of the OS, the Android 8.0 (aka Android O, whose final name is yet to be announced) at Google I/O 2017 with a long list of interesting features. At the event, the company revealed some of the newest and most exciting features of Android 8.0 and has already rolled Android O developer previews for users to get a glimpse on its latest Android OS.
As per the company and the features announced at I/O, Android O will give business users a boost, as it is stuffed with enhanced security and other work-friendly features such as better messaging, alerts, improved battery life, gesture support, and more. Here are some of the revealed features.
Android O: Better security
Resistance to ransomware
Although being the most popular and widely used mobile OS, security has been a major downside for Android. Previous Android versions were susceptible to security attacks including ransomware.
In ransomware, hackers take advantage on how the Android system handles system-level windows, which allows the hackers to overlay an alert that can’t be dismantled. Now, starting with the Android O, Google has reconfigured how system windows are to be handled, which will curb security attacks such as ransomware.
Google Play Protect
This is the company’s latest and most comprehensive security services for Android, meant to provide protection and allow greater visibility into your device’s security. Play Protect is built into every device with Google Play installed in it. Google Play Protect will automatically take the necessary actions in the background to keep your data and device safe.
The company claims that Play Protect will scan over 50 billion apps every day to identify risks. This will automatically identify potentially harmful apps and keep them off your device. Play Protect will install every app on a per-device basis in order to keep things more secure.
Smart text selection
This feature in Android 8.0 is also termed as “copy less” and is meant for the user’s convenience for copy-pasting information from one source to another. Thanks to the TensorFlow Lite (a compact version of Google’s open-source machine learning software library), the OS will recognize which app is the right one to deal the string the user has copied. For example, if you’ve copied a phone number from any app, the copied number will automatically pop right into the dialer, and if you copy an email address, you’ll be taken to the default mailing app.
This feature saves time by auto-filling common information such as name, address, company information, contact details, and more. Auto-fill can be controlled and can be made more secure and reliable from the accessibility settings. Previously, this feature was restricted to Google’s proprietary apps such as Chrome, but with the Android O, the company says that almost all the apps will allow integrated autofill to save time and efforts.
Finger gesture controls
Android O will come pre-baked with smart finger gestures to save a user time in triggering actions such as launching apps. Gestures are nothing new and groundbreaking in mobiles, but these gestures integrated with the OS itself could help you spend less time swiping around your phone’s interface to launch apps.
Restricting background activities for power saving
This feature will deprioritize app functions running in the background. Android O will be paired with Doze (the power-saving feature started in Android Marshmallow) to make sure that the battery life on devices will last much longer than it currently does on Android Nougat based devices.
Faster boot times
While the boot times and app handling capabilities of a phone largely depend on the hardware on the device, Google unveiled that Android O will be the first of its kind to get the benefits of faster boot times associated with the software. It’s not just the OS that is going to come with faster boot times: The apps on the device will also load much faster than in earlier Android versions.
Other Android O vitals
Controlling app notifications has been a serious problem in all the current versions of Android. With the Android O, users will be provided with a new feature called notification channel, which will let you choose exactly what notifications need to be enabled. For instance, users can now mute all social networking-related notifications and turn on just the other notifications such as calls or emails. This feature can save time and improve the productivity by avoiding the distractions of unnecessary notifications during the work hours.
With Android O, Google is introducing the notification dots feature, which already exists in iOS-based handsets. With notification dots, small dots appear in an app when you receive a notification. Users can long-press the app icon to view the notification without actually opening the application.
Android O comes with an all-new set of emojis. The company has introduced the rounder face emojis, ditching the old gumdrop, blobby emojis.
Adaptive app icons
Adaptive app icons, which were first introduced by Google in Google Pixel’s launcher, now come preinstalled in Android O. All apps in Android O will come with a unified style and, in addition to that, system icons can be animated by adding different shaped masks and borders to them. These adaptive icons are supported in the launcher, device settings, shortcuts, widgets, and app overview screens.
The picture-in-picture mode in Android O is an innovative new way of multitasking. PiP is a far better replacement for multitasking compared to split-window mode as it provides a better, faster, and smoother user experience. This feature allows you to shrink the view of an app into a customizable small secondary window that can be positioned by the user. For example, you can now take notes or write an email while being in a video call. Also, you can shrink your video player or YouTube player and move it aside of the screen while working on some other app simultaneously.
Audio quality on Android O is going to provide a far better experience to its users as it is going to natively support LDAC, which is Sony’s proprietary hi-res Bluetooth audio codec.
Open for beta testing
Currently, Android O is available only in beta version and supports only a few devices including the latest Pixel and Nexus series of smartphones. This option is open for all the tech enthusiasts owning any of the aforementioned devices. The company will be considering feedback given by the users on the beta to identify and fix issues, to make the platform even better. For more information on this, click here. The official full version of Android O is expected to debut with the Google’s proprietary Pixel 2 smartphones later this summer.
What about the name?
Google has been naming its Android versions based on desserts and confectioneries. Therefore, I and many others assume that Android O will be named Oreo. Well, I can’t think of a better sweet treat starting with O. If you think of a better name, do let us know in the comments below.