First of all, I must say that in Android 8.0 we should not expect revolutionary or radical changes in design and user interface (UI). If you are familiar with the regular version of Android, then you won’t have to get used to it again, since in fact the design has remained the same. But on the other hand, “under the hood” of Android O, you will find many innovations that have touched on some functions and settings.
Android 8: new notification options
This includes the display of missed messages. Google has an almost imperceptible dot in the upper right corner in the corresponding app shortcut; Apple and Samsung, which have been using this feature for a long time, indicate the exact number of unread messages.
If you lightly click on a shortcut, the corresponding context menu opens in a mini-window. And there, not only can you read a fragment of the message – the user is provided with two additional interactive features with context specifics. This is reminiscent of Apple’s 3D-Touch technology.
So, for example, right from the desktop, you can launch the mail application, open a tab, call your favorite number, or set a destination for the navigator. In addition, now you can effortlessly place the necessary widgets on the screen.
However, for our taste, the message preview format seems so small that it is hardly of any use. In part, Google introduced contextual options already in Android 7.1, and in Android O these capabilities are expanded.
Extends Google and reminder options. If you move the notification bar a little to the side, the clock and settings icon will look out. The setting wheel allows the user to set general notification settings for the respective application. Here you can also completely turn off signals for individual instruments.
In addition, Android O introduces notification channels for app groups. Signal options for these channels can be set individually to cover applications of the same type at once. This contributes to ease of management and reduces the annoying factor of push messages.
Google’s Android multi-window mode has been introduced since version 7. Android 8 expands this feature by adding the picture-in-picture mode familiar to users from television devices (including Android TV).
In the Beta, PIP mode can only be activated using one trick for YouTube videos (open YouTube in Chrome browser, select PC version from the three-dot menu, go to full screen mode, and then press the Home button).
This creates a small floating window that sits on top of all other content. If you touch this window, it will enlarge slightly and the control panels will appear. True, there is little to see in these tiny windows.
Android 8: updates faster, lasts longer
However, the most important changes are hidden inside: Google is committed to bringing updates to the market as quickly as possible, including partner devices. Under an architecture called Project Treble, Google separates the Android framework from low-level software such as drivers, which has the advantage of self-updating through system changes.
This doesn’t solve the Google updates issue, but it does somewhat minimize it. After all, often in device drivers there are bugs that are critical for security. In the future, this will be the responsibility of third-party manufacturers.
In addition, under an architecture called Project Vital, Google plans to increase security and improve energy management in the Android system and declare war on energy wasters. Background program activity, such as location or wireless network scanning, is now strictly limited by the system, and there is now a new interface for important synchronization tasks.
The ability to allow the installation of applications from unknown sources only to certain tools in the system is also pleasing. For example, third-party open source catalogs such as F-Droid can be used without being exposed to unwanted browser downloads and installations.
The list of innovations does not end there. In addition to new emoticons, Google embeds the so-called System Tuner, the capabilities of which vary significantly from version to version. Optionally, you can automatically activate the WLAN chip when there is a known network nearby.
Connoisseurs of good sound will be pleased with the presence of support for the AptX and AptX-HD Bluetooth codecs, which promise CD quality. In addition, Android O introduces new programming interfaces (APIs), such as an API for autofill, which should, in particular, greatly facilitate the work of password managers, and an interface for checking SMS.
You can also appreciate the practicality of tagged text recognition: if you mark a phone number or address, a context menu will appear, which will immediately offer a suitable application for this content.
Android O or 8.0 will be ready in the fall
The beta version of Android O, available for current Pixel models and Nexus 5X and 6P smartphones, works quite stable. However, it should not be used everywhere yet. We positively assessed the innovations, but some of them do not yet seem quite convenient and look small on smartphone screens.
The final version of Google releases in the third quarter (August or September). From the end of 2017, major mobile phone manufacturers will install Android 8 in flagships that will receive a support period of 18 to 24 months after the first release.
Many models of the middle segment and former flagships, as usual, “fly” past the updates. After all, before Android smartphones are capable of the same flexible upgrades as Windows PCs, Google still has a lot of work to do. First of all, this concerns the clarification of the usual OS code names by the names of desserts. In the tweets, you can see “Oreo”, a year earlier there was “Nutella”, and version 7 was dubbed “Nuga”. It’s better not to fall for the bait of jokers from Google.