Android O, Google’s next iteration of the Android operating system, is finally available in Developer Preview form. As with all new iterations of Android, Android O will bring with it a whole bunch of new features for the operating system.
For those of you who are reluctant or unable to install the Android O onto your device, here’s a rundown of some of the key features that are currently available on the operating system.
A redesigned Notifications system
The notifications system is getting a huge overhaul with Android O, as Google has implemented many changes to it with the Developer Preview. For starters, Android O has notification channels, a user-customizable channel that lets you group together notifications from various apps into a single category.
Users can also customise the behavior of their Android device when receiving notifications from a particular channel, ranging from the sound associated with it, to the vibrations that accompany it.
Apart from the introduction of notification channels, notifications can now be snoozed by the user. Snoozed notifications will appear after a set amount of time, and will be given the same level of importance when the first appeared.
On the developers’ side of things, Google has made notifications a bit more flexible than it used to be. For starters, developers can now set timeouts for notifications, causing the notifications to disappear after a set amount of time.
Developers can also set and enable background colors for notifications which is a handy way to convey the importance of a particular notification, although Google has requested developers to use this particular feature sparingly.
Notifications that utilise the MessagingStyle class will now be able to display more content in their collapse form. Finally, Android O now distinguishes between notifications that are dismissed by the user and those that are dismissed by the app itself.
After making its debut on the Android TV, Google is finally ready to bring Picture-in-Picture mode to the Android OS. Starting with Android O, users can now watch a video while performing other tasks on their device simultaneously.
The video will be shown in a smaller window, while the task at hand would take up the rest of the device’s screen space.
If you own a Pixel or a Pixel XL, chances are good that you’re familiar with Adaptive Icons. If you have neither, then Android O will be your first experience with them. With Android O, icons may now come with borders that are either the default square, circular, or a squircle shape.
Additionally, these icons are capable of supporting animations. The Adaptive Icons will appear in the launcher, shortcuts, device settings, the app overview screen, and sharing dialogs.
Improved color management
An improvement that is sure to please developers of photography and imaging apps, Android O devices will now be able to support wide-gamut color capable displays. Profiles that are supported by Android O includes AdobeRGB, Pro Photo RGB, and DCI-P3.
The introduction of the Autofill Framework
Anyone who has ever signed-up or login to an account would probably be familiar with Autofill. With Android O, Google is officially introducing an Autofill API. With this API, users can now choose an app to function as a source of autofill data.
The introduction of this Autofill API also means that developers will now need to implement the API should they wish to rely on Autofill.
Fonts in XML
Beginning with Android O, fonts will now be treated as a full resource type. Google will be introducing the Fonts in XML feature to Android O, allowing developers to bundle custom fonts as a resource.
Improved WebView experience
With Android Nougat, Google introduced an optional multi-process mode for WebView. Come Android O, said multi-process mode is now enabled by default.
On top of that, Google has also added some APIs to the mix that would make applications that use web development languages much more stable and secure.
With Android O, Google is looking to have the operating system support Wi-Fi Aware. Based on the Neighbour Awareness Networking (NAN) specification, this feature would allow devices with the appropriate hardware to discover and communicate with one another over Wi-Fi without the need of an Internet access point.
Improved audio performance
Audiophiles are going to be happy with Android O as the operating system will now support Sony’s LDAC codec for wireless audio purposes. On top of that, Google will also be introducing the new Audio API, and API that is tailor-made for applications that require a high-performance, low-latency audio path.
Not all of the features found in the Developers Preview of Android O is tailored towards Android-powered mobile devices. One such feature is multi-display support, a feature that would prove useful for Google’s Chromebooks or devices that run on Chrome OS.
Keyboard navigation improvements
Yet another feature for Chrome OS, Android O will give developers the ability to better support arrow and tab key navigation.
The features mentioned above are just a tip of the iceberg of what the Android O Developers Preview has to offer. A full list of features and changes, as well as an in-depth look at some of the changes, can be found here. For those who want to try out the Developers Preview, you can choose to download the files here.
Do note that the preview is only available on certain Nexus and Pixel devices. Also, you’ll need to manually install the preview to your device, so do remember to backup all important files before doing so.