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Google announces Android Oreo (8.0)

Photo: Google

Just in time for today’s eclipse, Google has officially announced its next major mobile OS update, Android Oreo.

Version 8.0 comes with a slew of updates geared towards improving speed, security, user interactivity, and battery life.

For starters, Oreo will place emphasis on restricting apps from using excess power in the background by allowing you to further restrict what each app can do. Using the “Doze” feature, they are promising even greater control by putting apps to sleep and only waking them up when needed.

They also promise a much faster boot-up time, clocking Oreo’s start up time to about half of what it takes to launch Nougat on company Pixel devices.

Visually, the aesthetics won’t be a major improvement when compared to Nougat, but there have been a few additional features. One of them is picture-in-picture apps which allows you to run two apps at once on the same screen. It’s a similar concept to the split-screen slider, but instead one of the apps can be sized down into the corner while the other takes up the entire screen. For instance you could be an IM app while watching your favourite videos on YouTube.

Emojis have also received quite the visual upgrade. Besides adding many more emojis to its library, the facial icons have gone from boring blobs to actual faces, with many of them slowly falling in line with what we see on Apple devices. To be honest it would have been great it we could just use the same library across mobile platforms, but that day might never come. Regardless, it’s a good step forward.

Another huge UI upgrade is the inclusion of notification dots on each app. Rather than trying to sift through various notifications in your tray, you could tap the notification dot on each app (e.g. on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram) to see what new messages or interactions you received. The dots hover to the top right hand side of the app icon, allowing you to see notifications by application. From there you could tap into the specific notification to view more details inside the application.

There is also the addition of Google’s Instant Apps, which allows you to launch some of the very basic features from popular apps from inside your browser without having to download it in the Play Store first.

Android Oreo will also introduce a universal auto-fill system, which will allow password managers and other apps to directly fill login dialogues and other text boxes without the need to resort to accessibility features.

From a security standpoint, Google will also push its Play Protect feature, which scans apps in the Play Store for any features that don’t conform to what they initially promise to do. Some of you may have already seen this feature in updated versions of the Play Store.

Even with a new OS being released, fragmentation continues to be a huge problem as many people are using older versions of Android such as KitKat, Lollipop, and Marshmallow.

Devices such as the Nexus 5X and 6P, along with Pixel/Pixel XL will be first in line to receive OTA updates, with the Pixel C and Nexus Player getting an update later on.

Google has announced as well that it’s working with major partners like Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei and OnePlus, to launch phone-specific versions of Oreo, but it’s unclear as to how long each brand will take to push the new update.

There there is an issue of when phone carriers decide to push updates OTA as well.

Oreo is now available via its Open Source library, but is not going out via OTA just yet as they are having some technical difficulties.

You can read up more via their blog post here, and take a look at the launch video below.

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