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(Update) Google confirms that Android O will arrive in Q3.

(Update 04/07/2017): Google have confirmed that Android O will arrive in the third quarter of 2017. The company updated their timeline to show the final release. While Q3 technically means July until September, we are not expecting the OS to be released this month.

(Update 12/06/2017): The new developer preview introduces more notification options in Android O. Notifications can now change colour if they include embedded images. Furthermore, Android O will now display a notification which tell users whether applications are running in the background. However, this feature can be disabled.

(Update 05/06/2017): The version number of the Android O OS is looking more and more likely to be 8.0. This comes after some Google apps like Keep and Photos are already targeting an API level (26) linked with Android 8.0.0 in their code. Later updates of other services including Google Calendar, Gmail, and the Google Search app are also likely to see a change in API level targeting. The name of the OS is still unknown. 

 

Google have launched the first beta for Android O. Users have to own one of the following six Google devices to be able to join the beta program: Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus Player. To access the Android O beta program, owners of the aforementioned devices can follow this link.

Google have announced more improvements to the upcoming Android release at the annual I/O conference. The company stated that instead of fancy new features, Android O will focus on important improvements like security, stability, startup time, and battery life.

A new feature called Google Play Protect will be introduced. The purpose of this is to inform users that their downloaded applications have been scanned for malware and other threats so that they are ready to use.

Regarding startup times, Android product manager Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson said that "extensive changes" will be made to the core of the operating system. These changes will, supposedly, make the phone boot up twice as fast, as well as making applications quicker.

For battery life, Android O will limit background activity in apps and other components of the OS. This is done with the intention of creating a less power-draining system.

Furthermore, there will be small changes to Android's UI. Perhaps the most interesting improvement in this area will be the introduction of notification alerts directly on an application's icon. Already a feature in iOS, Android O will now display a small dot in the corner of an app icon to make the user aware that they have a notification. Along with this improvement, users will also be able to long press on the icon and have the ability to read the notification and interact with it in some way.

A small, yet useful, new feature will be added to Android O. Normally, ambient display in smartphones is used to wake the device, for example when you pick it up. Now, the proximity sensor will be utilised to turn the display off when the phone is placed back in your pocket, making the feature fully automated both when picking up and putting down your device.

Another change in Android O will be the emojis. Google have redesigned them to look more standardised, making them more circular instead of the original 'blob' shapes.

There are also features that we were previously aware of, before the I/O conference. These include a new picture-in-picture mode, more chance to utilise autofill, notification grouping, and others.

Recommendation: Developers are advised to start testing their applications and services with the beta version of Android O. This will ensure that all sections of the apps and/or provided services will function properly with the new operating system.

 

(article originally written 18/05/2017, last updated 04/07/2017)

Last modified on Tuesday, 04 July 2017
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Sebastian Marcinkiewicz

Journalist and technology enthusiast specialising in smartphones and online security.

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