Google Announces Android O Developer Preview

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev with 9 Comments

Google Announces Android O Developer Preview

Spring is in the air, so Google is rolling out a developer preview for its next version of Android ahead of the May beta release.

Android O, as the release is currently known, follows last fall’s release of Android 7.0 Nougat, which is currently installed on about 11 distinct Android devices thanks to Google’s apparent lack of concern about platform fragmentation.

Normally, I’d install this preview on my Pixel XL immediately, but since I’m traveling internationally this week and—shudder—actually relying on this device, I’ll wait until I get home. But it looks to be a truly major upgrade, based on just the initial look at new features.

Which include:

Better battery life. New limits on background tasks —in implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates, specifically—should help improve battery life yet again, Google says.

Better notifications. Each Android version tweaks notifications, and this version is adding notification channels, which are a way for apps to provide different types of notifications, each of which the user can decide whether to display separately. There are also new visuals around notifications and groups.

Better auto-fill. Android O will add support for auto-fill apps, kind of like keyboard apps, that will help them auto-fill passwords and other information using the secure solution of their choice, and in any app.

PIP support. Like the iPad and Windows 10, Android O is adding support for picture-in-picture video so you can keep watching when you switch to another app.

Better icons. Icons in Android O can be adaptive, meaning that they will be different shapes based on the system. (Not that they can change dynamically, which would be nice. Imagine a weather app that could just display the temperature. How modern would that be?)

Better connectivity. Android O will support high-quality Bluetooth audio via LDAC and other new codecs, plus new Wi-Fi features like Wi-Fi Aware, which used to be called Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN). Basically, it lets devices discover and communicate over Wi-Fi without an Internet access point.

Better keyboard support. Thanks to the expansion of Android to Chrome OS-based devices, Android O will support keyboards better, adding such things as keyboard navigation.

There’s more, but you check out the Android Developers Blog for the full list.

Next week when I’m home, I’ll start diving into the developer preview and see what else I can find. But if you don’t want to wait, and have a compatible device—it will only work on Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL and Pixel C devices—you can get started right away. For this initial release, you’ll need to manually flash your device.


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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Google Announces Android O Developer Preview”

  1. per

    Why do I get the feeling it that every article about Android has to have a negative tone? Often, the complaints are Android fragmentation and Pixel devices. Last week I was running Android 6 and this week I was upgraded to 7. I don't see a real problem with fragmentation, all apps work fine and the UI stays mostly the same. And I don't know of anyone with security issues on their newer or older Android versions. What is the actual cost of Android fragmentation?

    • 12Danny123

      In reply to per:

      Developers are. They want to target the largest user base of that platform. Google wants them to target the latest APIs for Android. Google can't do that because of developers, and developers can't do it because 95% of Android users is on a previous version 1 year or older build.

      • per

        In reply to 12Danny123:

        I'm not sure I understand the cost to me. Just about all great apps are available on Android, and most of the important ones are quickly updated to the latest Android whenever there's something important, such as fingerprint for banking - even if the vast majority users can't take advantage of fingerprint.

  2. Bats

    Why You still want to rely on your "i" products that you consistently bash or the old Nexus/Android technology that (if I am not mistaken) you bought last year?

    Better technology, better camera, better OS than all your other phones, the shudder? 

    Paul, you were wrong about iPhone, iPad (despite your "revisionist" recollection), Windows Phone, Windows Vista, Windows 10, ..... You know what? Your list of wrongs are so great, that I am so glad I never consider any of your recommendations. If I had, I would be in a ton of regret and wasted so much money.

    With that said, that the fact you "shudder" on your Android device is actually comforting and re-assuring. 

  3. norwayyyxxx

    "Not that they can change dynamically, which would be nice. Imagine a weather app that could just display the temperature. How modern would that be?"

    Maybe you should take a look at the release notes cause that is exactly what they are going to do. Including notification number badges to icons.

    Which is great cause I have that on my Samsung Galaxy device for years...together with PIP, multi windows, icon badges, dynamic icons showing weather, date, clock, shaped icons, custom lock screen shortcuts, power saving mode and many other things :p

  4. Waethorn

    PIP was added to the YouTube app a while back. They're branching that out into a system-wide API.

  5. kshsystems

    I have just had my Pixel XL for a few days, but so far I see no reason to shudder  :-)  If you can get past the price, the form and function seem to be pretty high to me so far.

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