Color profiles aren't exactly a sexy topic, but in the worlds of professional photography and video, knowing what colors your display can accurately reproduce is hugely important, and equally important is knowing exactly which color profiles it's capable of representing. To date, supporting color profiles in Android has largely been incumbent upon device manufacturers and chip vendors, meaning there was no one solution for figuring out which profiles a device could display. With Android O, Google will offer a native way for developers to specify a way to display their apps in wide color gamut modes if a device marks them as supported. Read More
We all know the pain of typing in the same block of text the zillionth time on Android. The keyboards are better these days, but it's still an unnecessary annoyance. On desktops, there are any number of text-expanders and autofill helpers, but those sorts of apps are essentially hacks on Android... at least they have been until now. Android O will support a new API for autofill apps. Read More
If you've ever used a keyboard with Android, you'll know that the operating system and apps weren't exactly designed around arrow keys or tabbing. And, honestly, there wasn't much in the way of motivation for Google to fix this, historically: Android devices with keyboards are few and far between these days, so why care?
Then Android apps on Chromebooks happened, and suddenly, a lot more people are using their keyboards in apps that traditionally only ever saw touch-based interaction. In recognition of this, Google is promising that Android O will offer considerable improvements in the consistency of the experience of navigating your keyboard-equipped (or connected) device by providing more standard behaviors for the arrow and tab keys, in particular. Read More
Just about every new version of Android has reportedly improved battery life for end users... with a range of successes and failures over the years. In the upcoming Android O, Google is banking on a new feature called background limits to extend battery longevity. The basic idea is that the system will automatically limit the active capabilities of background apps, in a way that won't be detrimental to users while reducing overall resource use. Read More
Google added support for picture-in-picture (PiP) on Android TV devices (above) with the update to Nougat, but developers haven't exactly been rushing to add support. Maybe now they'll get on it. Android O is adding support for PiP video on phones and tablets. Read More
Android O will include big, obvious changes like picture-in-picture and new icons, but some of the low-level stuff could be just as impactful down the road. For instance, the addition of Neighborhood Aware Networking (NAN) support for WiFi. It could allow devices to find each other and communicate over WiFi without an access point. Read More
Google announced Android O today (have you heard?), and one feature on the list that caught my eye was a reference to "high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs" now being supported by the OS. While Google doesn't specifically reference aptX, there really isn't much else they could be referring to. aptX is a proprietary streaming protocol owned by CSR, who are now owned by Qualcomm. Its HD variant allows more seamless playback of high-quality (i.e., high-bitrate) audio and is generally preferable to the standard Bluetooth audio streaming protocol. Read More
As the world turns, so too does the cycle of Android updates. The first part of 2017's version bump, known only as Android O for the time being, was just announced. And just like the last two years, developer preview versions will be available for some of the latest officially supported Google hardware. This year that list includes the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, and Pixel XL phones, the Pixel C tablet, and the Nexus Player Android TV set-top box. You can download the new images here. Read More
Android O is launching in preview state today, but you'll have to manually flash the OS to your test device to get a taste. The images and flashing instructions can be found here.
As a reminder, the Nexus 5X, 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, Pixel, and Pixel XL are the supported devices at this time. Google is not offering the O preview as part of the Android Beta Program for now (that will come later, of course), probably to discourage those who would try to daily drive an unfinished OS.
Google has said rather clearly that this early release is intended explicitly for developers and "not intended for daily or consumer use." If you remember the first Android N developer previews from last year, you'll know that's probably not an exaggeration, as many, many things were broken in the earliest builds. Read More