Android O is about the essentials

18 May 2017

Google first announced Android O about two months ago, and now it's finally spilled the beans about what's new. We still don't know what sweet treat it will be named after (though our money is on Oreo), but Android O is all about improving the essentials: battery life, speed, and security are key areas of focus.

In terms of battery, Android O will automatically limit what apps are able to do in the background. For example, the new operating system will limit how frequently an app running in the background of your phone can retrieve your physical location, which is one of the more battery demanding tasks a phone can perform.

Google's also made extensive changes to Android O's core, which should result in phones booting twice as fast, and apps running faster out of the box.

With regards to security, Android O is ostensibly getting Google-made antivirus. Dubbed Google Play Protect, the feature will scan apps for threats and either prevent you from installing them in the first place, or remove them from your device. Play Protect will monitor apps from the Play Store (which are also scanned before they're listed), as well as apps you're trying to install from third party sources. Play Protect will also be rolled out to older Android devices.

It wouldn't be a new Android release with at least a couple of new features though. Newly announced additions include iPhone-like notification dots, which show you which apps have unread notifications (although not the number). Long pressing one of these will reveal notifications related to that app in a small pop-up window.

Android O will also add picture-in-picture, so that you can keep video playing (whether a video call or YouTube) while doing something else.

The first "beta quality" release of Android O - Developer Preview 2 - is now available to download for those wanting an early taste of Google's latest operating system. Unless you're a developer, you probably don't want to install it on your primary device. The Android O Developer Preview 2 will run on the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P.

A final version of Android O should be available in the later part of this year, around August or September is our guess. Of course, history suggests that only select Nexus and Pixel devices will get the update on day one.

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