Android O Developer Preview now available. What’s new?


Looks to have been a short while since Android Nougat has been out on devices and here we have Google take the next step to another Android version. As the tradition is, Android version names have their first letter follow alphabetical order hence from ‘N’ for ‘Nougat’ we now have ‘O’ which as usual gets it’s full name when the stable and final build is ready for use.

Many Android users haven’t used Nougat for a long while or even got it yet on their devices but impressive to know Google does not rest, and with every new Android version comes new features and Application Programming Interfaces (API). The most important question here is what’s new in Android O? Below we take a quick look at the new features Android O brings.

Background Limits: With Android O, App background processes are limited and in so doing battery life is expected to improve. Android O aims to allows a few processes to run in the background and application developers are made aware which processes in their apps have been limited if a particular app is expected to run on Android O.  Hopefully performance will improve as well. But what we expect to see is improved battery life if that is indeed the main reason as to why background processes have been limited in this new Android version.

Notification channels: Android O allows users to individually manage notifications within one app based on the categories defined within that app. Take for example a new app with ‘Technology’ and ‘Politics’ categories. A user may choose to disable notifications about Politics and allow those from Technology  from the same app that pushes those notifications.

Keyboard Input Auto-fill: Many apps especially web browsers have had this feature for a while where by the app auto-fills the user’s email or password if the user allowed this app to remember their previously entered credentials. Android O has got this feature baked into the OS. It’s expected to work anywhere within the phone.

Adaptive Icons: Android O allows app developers to have a number of icons for a single app for different layout or backgrounds. A developer may decide to asign a different icon of the same app for a different interface enabling the app to switch between one icon to another automatically.

New Windowing and Picture-in-Picture features: In Android Nougat, Google officially introduced split windows, a feature which allows two apps to run side by side. More control to that is brought in Android O with more useful features to specific apps. Picture-in-Picture, a method that allows an app to run in a separate window in front of another is enhanced in Android O.

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WebView Enhancements: WebView is basically that process that allows an app to open up a web link within that particular app instead of opening it in a web browser. In previous Android version, it has been one single process. Android O bring more processes to it including error detection and security features.

Other new features Android O brings are: More font resources to allows developers define font families and weight within XML language during app development, wide color gamut for developers to use within their apps, better connectivity to support high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs and adding new features like Wi-Fi Aware to allow apps and nearby devices discover and communicate over Wi-Fi without an Internet Access Point, improved keyboard navigation to allow apps take advantage of any possible key combinations and arrows keys, new Java Language APIs and runtime enhancements with faster runtime of up to 2x as benchmarks have been proved on certain apps meaning higher response speed is expected on this Android version that any before.

These and many more features are expected to be explained further at Google I/O event come May this year.

As the name suggests, Android O Developer Preview is essentially meant for Developers or for testing purposes and not for daily use even if many who have tried it have found this preview more stable than expected. Android O Developer Preview is currently only available for the Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C,  Pixel and Pixel XL. Find the system images here if you need  to try them on your device.