Google has officially released the beta version of its next major OS upgrade; the Android 8.0 O-beta for developers to test it. This is the second time in a row that Google has released an update to developers before it goes official at the Google I/O event. If you remember, Google had done the feat with Android N last year. What ‘O’ means is a mystery at the moment, but we’re pretty sure that it will be named after some dessert.
Though Google isn’t mentioning what features are included, it is here to address perennial smartphone problem at fixing the battery saving. And with Google O, Google is focusing on managing what apps can do in the background so that they won’t drain away the battery life. Dave Burke, Android VP Engineer, says that they have put additional automated limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas; the implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates.
Improvements in battery life with a beta OS is a tough thing to judge. However, we need to wait for some more time and check how effective Google’s strategy will be on most Android phones for quite some time. With Android O, Google has done some changes to the Notification bar as now apps will “group” their notifications into categories called “channels.” Google’s approach with Notification shade with every major OS upgrade keeps getting better, and it outshines the competition. You can even set what kind of Notifications you’ll be able to set for each app via the Android’s main notification settings pane. If any particular app offers high-priority alerts and marketing, you have an option to directly turn them off right from the notification panel without digging into the app’s interface.
With Android O, you have an option to snooze notifications for later. Though the company’s main focus with today’s announcement was limited to Battery and Notifications, there’s a bunch of other stuff like better audio quality via wireless headphones with high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs, as well as Sony’s LDAC codec. App developers now have a choice to create adaptive icons for their apps that change the way they look depending on what home screen user is having at that particular time. This is a pretty big sign regarding customization and theming for Android.
One of the terrible ideas that Google is implementing this time is a new pop-up window that apps can show instead of showing alerts in the status bar; disturbing the user’s attention. Multi-display support for launching an activity on a remote display which means like a PowerPoint presentation mode or a Continuum-style Android-on-the-desktop mode.
Developers can test out the Android O in a desktop emulator or on Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C. You can either download the file and flash it manually, or you can sign up for an OTA update. Going by the last year’s tradition where the first few beta updates were not suitable as daily drivers, we hope the same applies this time as well.