On August 21st, 2017, Google finally and officially launched the eight major version of the Android mobile operating system, the Android Oreo (codenamed Android O during development). This upgrade has been very much anticipated and sure enough, google did not disappoint.
An alpha quality developer preview version of it was first released on March 21, 2017. The second, considered beta quality, was released May 17, 2017, while the third developer preview was released on June 8, 2017 and offered a finalized version of the API. On July 24, 2017, a fourth developer preview was released which included the final system behaviors and the latest bug fixes and optimizations. Then finally, it was released to the public on August 21, 2017.
Below are some of the expected features of the operating system:
The launcher experience of Android Oreo (as seen on the Pixel) is pretty much the same, but when you launch the app drawer, accessible simply by swiping up anywhere on the home screen, you’ll see the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen switch from white to black for better visibility. When you Long press the home screen will bring up options for changing the wallpaper, adding widgets or accessing the home screen settings.
In the home screen settings, you can enable or disable the app suggestions at the top of the app drawer, toggle what we used to call Google Now on or off, enable home screen rotation, decide whether you want new app installs to add an icon to your home screen and get access to two new Oreo settings: adaptive icons and notification dots.
Android Oreo adds support for Neighborhood Aware Networking (NAN) for Wi-Fi based on Wi-Fi Aware, wide color gamuts in apps, an API for autofillers, multiprocess and Google Safe Browsing support for WebViews, an API to allow system-level integration for VoIP apps, and launching activities on remote displays. Android Runtime (ART) features performance improvements and better cache handling. Android Oreo contains additional limits on apps’ background activities in order to improve battery life.
One of the cool features of Android Oreo is that it lets you decide which shape you like best for your icons: system default, square, round, rounded square, squircle or teardrop (just like the Allo and Duo icons). Of course, not every app developer has adopted this yet, but Android Studio has a simple wizard to guide developers through the process.
The new Android Oreo has also included a couple of new features to keep up with the times. In previous Android versions, the maximum screen aspect ratio was 1.86:1, which is basically the widescreen cinematic standard. With the emergence of taller and narrower aspect ratios like the one on Galaxy S8 and the LG G6, Oreo no longer has a default maximum aspect ratio – it simply adjusts to the default aspect ratio of the device. Now app developers need to get on board to properly adapt their apps to the new formats.
Oreo also has built-in support for wide color gamut apps, essentially meaning that on devices with the requisite HDR display technology, apps can display a much larger range of colors. There aren’t a lot of phones out there with the necessary display hardware to take advantage of this yet, but the number will definitely increase next year.
Android Oreo also officially offers new circular emoji at the expense of the blob emoji that were loved and equally hated in equal measure by some.
Lightening up the UI, introducing adaptive icons and new emoji may not seem like a big deal, but they make the Oreo experience more consistent. Condensing the Settings menus, moving icons around and collapsing persistent notifications make Oreo more usable. And adding full color gamut support while removing maximum aspect ratios ensures Android 8.0 will look great on devices that aren’t even out yet.
Android 8.0 is also more about assuming control than any previous version of Android. Whether it’s Google putting the brakes on rampant resource-hungry app processes or users having more power to limit what apps can access and how notifications are handled, Oreo has it in droves.
One of the new features on the Oreo is the ability to snooze notifications. Just by partially swiping a notification, you’ll now see two icons: one leading to the notification channel settings for that app and another that lets you set a timer before the notification reappears. By default, it’s one hour, but you can also choose to reduce or increase it.
Once you’re in the notifications settings for a particular app, you’ll see several options. You can disable notifications entirely, allow notification dots, or flip a switch for each kind of notification channel the app developer has identified. Some apps will have very few, but others, like the Google app, can have more than a dozen.
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Picture-in-Picture mode (PiP)
This is one of Android 8.0’s flagship features. It was previously available on Android TV, but now it’s on mobile. It is primarily for video players and apps in which you watch content, like for example on Chrome, the PiP feature lets you keep watching what you’re watching in a small floating window while otherwise going about your Android business – it’s a little like a free-form video version of split-screen, which also reoccurs in Android 8.0.
In apps that supports this feature, when you hit the home button, your video will still keep playing in a movable window in the bottom right section of you screen. You can move the window around the screen and tap it to access playback controls or make it full screen. Well, if you are not cool with this feature, you can disable it on individual apps. Simply go to the App Info page for the app in question, or visit the Special app access section in Apps and Notifications to see all apps with support for the PiP feature.
The underlying architecture of Android was revised so that low-level, vendor-specific code for supporting a device’s hardware is separated from the Android OS framework using a hardware abstraction layer known as the “vendor interface”. Vendor interfaces must be made forward compatible with future versions of Android; theoretically, OEMs would only need to perform their necessary modifications to the OS framework and bundled apps to update a device to a future version of Android, while maintaining the same vendor interface. The “seamless updates” concept introduced in Android 7.0 is updated to download update files directly to the system partition, rather than requiring them to be downloaded to the user partition first, thus reducing storage space requirements for system updates.
A new automatic repair system known as “Rescue Party” has been introduced; if the operating system detects that core system components are persistently crashing during startup, it will automatically perform a series of escalating repair steps. If all automatic repair steps are exhausted, the device will then reboot into the recovery mode and offer to perform a factory reset.
From Google Now to Google Assistant, Google wants to deliver the most pertinent information when it is needed, if not just before. Each successive Android iteration has become more intuitive, with increasingly greater attention paid to helping you get things done faster. Nowhere is that more evident than in Android Oreo. You now have a smarter assistant.
There is now an automatic scanning on Google Play Store and sideloaded apps as “Google Play Protect”, and gives the feature, as well as Find My Device (formerly Android Device Manager) higher prominence in the Security menu of the Settings app. This function is now implemented as a permission that can be granted to individual apps (i.e. clients for third-party app such as Amazon Appstore). Verified boot now includes a “Rollback Protection” feature, which enforces a restriction on rolling back the device to a previous version of Android.
Here are the phones confirmed to get Android Oreo update;
Nokia: Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6 and Nokia 8.
HTC: HTC U11, HTC 10 and HTC U Ultra.
OnePlus: OnePlus 5, OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3.
Sony: Sony Xperia XZ1 and Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact. Also, Sony Xperia X, Sony Xperia X Performance, Sony Xperia XZ, Sony Xperia X Compact, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Sony Xperia XZs, Sony Xperia XA1, Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra and Sony Xperia XA1 Plus.
Motorola: Moto Z, Moto Z Force, Moto Z2 Force, Moto Z Play, Moto Z2 Play, Moto G5, Moto G5S, Moto G5 Plus, Moto G5S Plus, Moto X4 and Moto G4 Plus.
Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 8
LG: LG G6, LG V30
And finally, everybody’s favorite: the Android Easter Egg and emoji. As discovered in the final Android O developer preview, the Android Oreo Easter Egg is an…octopus. He floats around the screen, changes sizes when you rotate your device and can be dragged around the screen. And…that seems to be about it.