O is for Oreo: Android 8.0 finally gets a name but…

Android 8.0 is coming. Well, at least for the handful of users who have Google hardware in the form of Pixel and Nexus devices and a few selected models from other brands. That is not so much of an interesting revelation, though. We knew that since Google announced the first preview of Android O 5 months ago. The thing we were all waiting for was the final codename Google was going to name Android 8.0.

Android Oreo it is! That wasn’t so hard to guess, was it?

Google has traditionally named versions of its mobile operating system, Android, after sweet sugary treats following the alphabetical order. Android Oreo’s predecessor is codenamed Nougat.

Many had widely speculated that Android 8.0 would be codenamed Oreo. The only problem was that thanks to God’s over-the-top trolling in the past (remember Key Lime Pie?), we really couldn’t be cock sure but yeah, Oreo it is now. End of speculation.

Android Oreo features

Now that we have the name issues behind us, let us take a look at 3 features that Android 8.0, Oreo, brings to the table:

Picture-in-picture – This is a feature that allows users to run several activities side by side. Say watching a video while looking up something in a browser window. As you can guess, the feature, while immensely useful, is a bit of a struggle to use on our tiny (really?) smartphone screens and so Google, in all its wisdom, introduced it first on Android TV in the previous version of Android, 7.0 Nougat. This year, the feature is making it to smartphones and tablets as well thanks to Android 8.0, Oreo. While quite a number of apps have so far been able to integrate and use what can be referred to as picture-in-picture mode, just as was the case with multi-window and fingerprint sensors before the arrival of Android Nougat and Marshmallow respectively, its official inclusion into Android means that it is much easier for developers to integrate the same into their apps.

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New emojis – Last year, Android 7.0 Nougat arrived with at least 72 new emojis. This year, with Android 8.0 Oreo, there’s an entire redesign of the Android emojis as we know them. If design is kind of your thing or need more details on how Google went about this process then check out this Medium post by the design team (hint: blobs are gone. Yaaay!)

Multi-display support – “If an (app) activity supports multi-window mode and is running on a device with multiple displays, users can move the activity from one display to another. When an app launches an activity, the app can specify which display the activity should run on,” notes Google in its notes to developers.

For more on the features that you will be getting once an Android Oreo update hits your device (if at all any will be coming your way that is), check out what I have documented in the past in the links below.

Read: Google debuts Android O, the successor to Nougat

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

When can you get Android Oreo?

That Android Oreo is new doesn’t mean that it will, all over sudden, reach the more than 2 billion Android devices out there. Far from it. A year since launch, Android Nougat is still struggling to impress. It has an install base of less than 15%.  A quarter of all Android devices are running versions of Android that are at least 4 years old. Google has always made promises to make things better year-in-year-out. So, what will be different this time round?

Probably not much, to be honest.

Google says that devices that will ship with Android Oreo out of the box will be easy to update to future versions of Android. Next year, the company is set to introduce a special version of Oreo meant to run on low-cost devices mainly sold in emerging markets like Kenya. If you are not new to Android and the Android ecosystem then you are not mistaken for thinking that all this is familiar because it really is.

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The blog post announcing Android Oreo’s arrival cites a number of device makers whose devices are set to receive Android 8.0 in the near future. “We’ve also been working closely with our partners, and by the end of this year, hardware makers including Essential, General Mobile, HMD Global Home of Nokia Phones, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony are scheduled to launch or upgrade devices to Android 8.0 Oreo.” Music to our ears but, allow me to be skeptical here, we’re being set up.

Being conditioned to get prepared for the best. My only advise? Unless you own any flagship device from the device makers listed by Google or plan to pick up one of their yet-to-be-announced smartphones (like Huawei’s Mate 10 or Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8) then don’t get your hopes high. I’d only excuse users of HMD Global’s Nokia-branded mid-range smartphones.

As has been the case before, expect the next few days and weeks to be awash with news of Android 8.0 update roadmaps from various device makers. Take my early word for it: most will be just for playing to the gallery. Pure PR. That November or December 2017 they will tell you about? It will come and go and you will still be stuck with your Android 7.0 with March 2017 security patch. LOL.

Of course if you are not one of us mere mortals to whom the names Pixel and Nexus are distant rumours and happen to have one of the devices for which the Oreo update is already rolling out to then continue tapping that System update menu or just take matters into your own hands and go direct into flashland.

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