Android Nougat released last August, so you know what that means? Android O is around the corner.
Google updates its mobile operating system every year, and although we're still a long ways away from the next version rolling out to our devices, there are a few leaks beginning to pop up about it. Plus, Google just released the first preview for delivers. So we can look at that and past patterns to determine what it might feature when it finally releases for consumers later this year.
Here's everything you need to know about Android O, including the first developer preview and all the current rumours.
What is Android O?
Android O is the next major update to the Android. It follows the release of Android Nougat from last summer. Android O will also likely be labelled Android 8.0. After all, Android Marshmallow got the numerical designation Android 6.0, and Android Nougat got Android 7.0-7.1. However, older versions of Android, such as Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat, were all labelled 4.x updates.
What will Android O be called?
Google usually names its major Android OS updates after desserts - and in alphabetical order. So far, the company has released Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat. It's safe to say that Google will release Android O in 2017 with a sweet treat-themed name that begins with the letter O.
Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer tends to tease Android update names on Twitter, and most recently, he's been suggesting Android Oreo is the likely candidate for Android O. He may be kidding, though, considering he also tweeted an image of Pocky with the caption #2018.
What does Android O feature?
The first Android N developer preview from last year had a picture-in-picture mode, like you'd see in Apple's iPads, but it was for Android TV. And according to 9to5Google, Google planned to bring it to other devices, including Android tablets specifically.
Now, based on what's available in the first Android O developer preview, we know that picture-in-picture display - also known as PIP - is coming to phones and tablets, so you can continue watching a video while, for instance, answering a chat in another app. Another new windowing feature includes a new app overlay window for apps to use instead of system alert window.
This allows you to launch your screen activity on a remote display.
The preview brings developer-controlled notification channels, which let developers give users fine-grained control over different kinds of notifications. You can change the behavior or block content of each channel individually, rather than all of the app's notifications together.
To improve the battery life of Android devices, 9to5Google had claimed that Google plans to reduce the background activity of apps in Android O. The site was right, because with the developer preview of Android O, Android can now limit how apps function in the background, thus improving a user's battery life and the device's interactive performance.
Google added a "reliable, predictable model" for "arrow" and "tab" navigation that helps both developers and users, the company said.
Android O supports Bluetooth audio codecs like the LDAC codec. There's also a new "Wi-Fi Aware", which was previously known as Neighbor Awareness Networking. On supported devices, apps and nearby devices can communicate over Wi-Fi without an internet access point.
Support for wider colour gamuts
Android O will make it possible for app developers to take advantage of support for a wide-colour gamut displays. There's a growing trend for improving displays by making them HDR compatible (both on Android TV, but also in smartphones and tablets). A large component of HDR is supporting wider colour gamuts, which goes hand-in-hand with this aspect of Android O. Google says it's aimed at imaging apps, however, with support for profiles like AdobeRGB, Pro Photo RGB or DCI-P3 to get the most out of the display.
Are there any Android O rumours?
Thanks to Venture Beat and a few other reports, we know Google has been developing new "assistive features" for Android, and some of those features might make it to the final version of Android O that releases later this year. Here's a look at what's rumoured:
The first feature is called Copy Less, and it's designed to "cut down on the annoyance of copying text from one app and pasting it in another". It works like this: imagine you and a friend are having a conversation in a chat app and you open Yelp to find a restaurant. When you go back to your conversation and type “it’s at,” the address of the restaurant will appear. You can then add it to the text box.
The feature may end up in Google’s standard-issue Gboard virtual keyboard app or the Android OS itself. Google is also working on ways to enhance certain types of text in messaging apps. So, if someone sends you a message containing an address, Copy Less will allow Android (or maybe Android's stock Message app) to recognise the text is an address, and tapping on it will open it up Google Maps.
Google has reportedly found a way to let people use finger gestures to trigger actions in Android. For instance, when you draw the letter C onscreen, Android will show a short list of recent contacts. Gesture triggers could get delayed or might not ever ship, VentureBeat said.
When will Google announce Android O?
Google usually uses Google I/O to tease improvements to Android. Last year, it talked about the split-screen mode, ability to reply to texts from notifications, and an update to the Doze battery saver. It also teased Android N. Google will more than likely mention the next version of Android at this year's show. So, expect to hear something about Android O/8.0 at Google I/O 2017 in May.
Can you try Android O's dev preview?
Google surprised everyone in 2016 by announcing a Developer Preview of Android Nougat in advance of Google I/O 2016. It didn't roll out the final release to consumers until August 2016. Google always announces a new Android OS with new hardware, but that was no longer the case last year, as Android Nougat didn't land for new hardware until Google released its own Pixel flagships in late 2016.
We expected to see the Android O Developer Preview announced ahead of Google I/O, which kicks off on 17 May, and true to form, Google has released it. It includes an SDK with system images for testing on the Android Emulator, as well as Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL, and Pixel C devices. Developers building for wearables can now use an emulator for testing Android Wear 2.0 on Android O.
Google offers instructions on how to install the preview on its developer website. It said the developer is in "early days" and cautioned the first developer preview should only be downloaded by developers. Google said it will release updated developer previews in the coming months, and will be "doing a deep dive on all things Android at Google I/O in May," Google wrote in a blog post.
When is Android O coming to my phone?
The final release of Android O should be available in August 2017 - prior to any new hardware releases from Google. Google phones and tablets are the first to get new operating system updates, and security updates are provided for three years following the device's release.
In other words, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P will be supported by Google until September 2017. That means they will get both Android Nougat and next year's Android O. The Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 will also be supported until October 2016. They'll update to Android Nougat but not Android O. If you have a recent flagship phone or tablet, you'll likely see the update rolled out within the first few months of 2018.
In its marketing of the Moto G4 Plus, Motorola teased that it will receive both Android Nougat and Android O.