It’s no longer news that Android 8 Oreo is finally out and about 0.3% Android users can have it installed on their phone. Yes, only the Pixel and Nexus devices can have it for now. However, it will reaching other brands via new smartphones and be getting pushed to old flagships in the next months.
Though that should be a big topic to dwell for now as it’s still young for that now. Android is quite the mature operating system nowadays and, for the past couple of major updates, has had some modifications that are nice to have, but not necessarily gamechangers. Still, there are a few features here and there that are quite big and worth looking forward to.
Below are 10 of the improvements in Android 8 Oreo, which we find to be the most important:
Speaking of fragmentation, Google has taken on the task to make Android updates faster. You know, a new build usually takes months after being officially out there, before its pushed to Samsung, LG, and other huge phones.
The issue? Manufacturer custom skins, custom hardware, carrier shenanigans, and so forth. Google sought to reduce the issues by separating the “core” Android system from the “top layer”, which manufacturers usually skin. The undertaking is called Project Treble and let’s hope it works wonders!
Stopping those power leaks
Android 8 Oreo wants to stop rogue apps from draining your battery. Now, when a certain app is consuming energy while in the background, the system will actively warn you via a persistent notification in the drop-down shade.
Additionally, Android will actively limit the actions an app can perform when it is not on screen, so it can’t just rampantly hog processor and battery. It’s a matter of time to see how this pans out, but we are hopeful.
Multitasking on a phone? Well, it’s not that far-fetched of an idea now that huge screens are a standard (and that 18:9 displays seem to be becoming more popular).
You can now watch a video in a floating window while working in the background. It currently supports YouTube an Google Duo, but the feature is open to 3rd party app developers.
Bye, blob emoji! Also, instant new emoji support
Arguably, the stock Android blob emoji were quite ugly. Well, they are now officially gone (for the 0.3% of people who actually have Android 8 Oreo installed). But the better news is that Google also released the new EmojiCompat library , which helps Android phones to “translate” new emoji and read them, instead of displaying an empty box with an X.
Every Android phone manufacturer likes to add their own skin on top of the vanilla experience. Every 3rd party launcher maker likes to experiment with different app icon shapes. The end result? A lot of times, non-default apps end up having a weird rectangle-like frame around their icon, kinda not looking like they fit in. Google has finally said “enough is enough” and made icons “adaptive”.
The skin or launcher maker, whoever they are, just points out the shape their icons are to be in. Then, apps that are downloaded automatically transform their icon graphic to that shape, sans the weird frames.
Some apps have different types of events that they notify you for — likes, follows, comments, mentions, et cetera. Some of these apps let you manually edit which activity sends you a sound, which vibrates, and which doesn’t sound off at all. Others don’t.
Google is streamlining this with the so-called “Notification Channels”. Each app, which has multiple notification events, will have these events separated into “channels”.
You choose what channel does what — some may ring, others may just display a text banner, third can be limited to only glowing your phone’s LED. So, for example, you can set your Facebook app to ring when you have a friend request, vibrate when you are tagged in a picture, but only glow the LED of the phone when you have new comments on your posts.
When you receive a new notification, but can’t act on it right now, what do you do? Dismiss it and risk to forget it, or leave it there to remind you (annoyingly)? Well, now we get the choice to “snooze” a notification — it hides away from view, but will pop up again at a later time to remind us that we have unfinished business.
Settings redesigned… again
With Android 6 Marshmallow, we saw Google make an attempt at bringing order to the Settings screen. There was now a hamburger menu to the left to take you to major places in Settings. And it felt quite redundant.
Now, the sandwich menu is gone, and more order has been brought to the Settings menus via a redesign of each of the 13 submenus. Now, the relevant information on each screen is much more in your face, with big pictures and clearly readable text. We quite enjoy the redesign.
Audio latency reduction… again
Apple has been dominating the musician niche for quite a while with its mobile devices, mainly due to the amazingly low audio latency its iDevices have. Developers have made a wide array of hardware and software for iPhones and iPads and people have been jamming by just plugging a guitar or MIDI controller in a phone for a while.
Android, albeit being the more open system, is still behind. Its main problems? Fragmentation and an ever-present audio lag. Google has been promising to reduce latency since forever and says that it has done so in Oreo.
Password autofill works in apps
Autofill is a super nifty feature of Google Chrome. But what if you want to log in your Twitter app with the same ease? You now can — Android will sync with your memorized Chrome passwords and will automatically fill them in apps.