Google details Android O features at I/O 2017, launches beta

The highlight of Google’s annual developer conference, I/O, is usually what it reveals concerning its popular mobile platform, Android, during its keynote. With so much at stake this year since the company had already previewed Android O, the next version of Android, it did not disappoint. The company detailed quite a number of features, some that we had already heard of and others that are pretty new, that the next version of Android, after 7.x Nougat, will pack.

Here they are:

1. Fluid Experiences

We had already heard about most of the fluid experiences since they were properly detailed when the Android O Developer Preview dropped two months ago.

  • Notification dots – when one receives a notification like, say a new email on Gmail, the Gmail app will display a small dot showing that there are new unread emails. When long pressed, the email can be responded to on the spot.
  • Autofill – Password manager apps are already falling over themselves.
  • Picture-in-picture – it’s a feature that lets you do more than one task without having to turn to multi-window. Like, chat on Google Duo while using the calendar app. Or watching YouTube while crunching Google Sheets. One task/picture stays on top of whatever else it is you are doing.
  • Smart text selection – one of the little annoyances of using an Android smartphone (or any other smartphone, for that matter) today is text selection. Personally, I struggle with this stuff. Google knows this (doesn’t Google know everything, anyway?) and it has been working behind the scenes to make things better. The end result, as we’ll get to see when Android O drops later in the year, is smart text selection. What this does basically is identifying when you’re trying to select text like phone numbers and pre-empt your next course of action. It selects the entire block for you when you double tap it! Handy. No more fiddling and dragging around handles.

2. Vitals

These features are meant to maximize battery, performance and reliability on an Android device.

  • Battery life – With Android O, Google is introducing what it calls Wise which reigns in on errant background processes in order to maintain the juice on a device.
  • Startup time – Apps will generally launch and run faster while overall, a device’s bootup time will become shorter by up to two times in the case of Google’s Pixel phones.
  • Stability
  • Security – Google is launching Google Play Protect, which scans all the apps on the Play Store for malware or any other security risks in order to make users safe. While Google using artificial intelligence and bots to continually scan for malware and kick out rogue apps from the app store isnot really a new thing, most users have had no idea that it has been happening. With Google Play Protect, Google is bringing this front and centre so that users are well informed.

Android O is available as a beta to users of compatible devices (Pixel and Nexus). This is the second preview since the first preview was released in March when Android O Developer Preview was announced. A third preview is expected in a month’s time and another one in July before the operating system officially debuts later in the year.

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Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com