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android o

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Nova Launcher beta brings Android O's notification dots

One of Android O's newly announced features at I/O is notification dots on app icons on your homescreen. Much like iOS or plenty of third-party Android launchers and add-ons, O will add a little dot to your app icon to tell you that you have a notification awaiting from this app specifically. Tapping and holding on the icon will show a pop-up with the different notifications coming from it, and you can swipe them away.

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Android O feature spotlight: Dev options has new "Window animation scale" and "Force RTL layout direction" quick settings tiles

We've hit most of the high points in our quest to find all the important things in the new Android O beta. Still, there are some little tidbits that will interest developers and huge Android dorks (that's probably you). If you venture into the developer options, there are two new quick settings tiles to enable: "Window animation scale" and "Force RTL layout direction."

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Android O feature spotlight: The proximity sensor can turn off ambient display

Ambient display on the Android O developer preview is doing some odd things right now. It's showing a minimal and less useful UI for some people, while others see something more akin to the old version. Whatever is going on there, we do know of one small (but useful) change to ambient display in O—covering the proximity sensor now puts the phone back to sleep.

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The 'Swipe for notifications' gesture now matches device orientation for Nexuses running Android O

Since the release of the Pixel last year it's been possible to swipe down on the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade. It took a while, but the feature eventually came to the Nexus 5X, and finally the 6P. Ever since it came to the Nexuses, there was a bug wherein the axis wouldn't change along with the orientation. The release of the second developer preview for Android O (DP2) fixes this, and you can now logically swipe down from whichever side of the device is currently the top, depending on how you're holding it.

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[Update: O DP2 broke notification channels] Android O feature spotlight: Android tells you if an app is displaying a screen overlay

Being able to run apps that draw on top of other apps is a powerful feature of Android. Apps like Twilight take advantage of that to add a filter to the display, but other apps just show a floating UI element. However, this can also be a security concern. Android O offers a handy alert when an app is showing an overlay with a link to turn it off.

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Android O feature spotlight: The settings search now shows installed apps, results now have subtext

Google added a search function to the Android settings app back in Android 5.0, making it far easier for new users to find exactly what they need. Starting with Android O, the search results not only contain subtext to better explain the results, but apps are now included as well.

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Android O feature spotlight: Downloads of system updates can now be paused

Downloading massive files isn't always convenient, especially if you don't have great Internet. And unless you've still got an unlimited data plan, letting the download continue while you're on the move without WiFi is just a bad idea. Google seems to agree, as Android O's second developer preview now features a 'pause download' button.

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Android O feature spotlight: You can automatically enable WiFi near trusted networks, and it now works in DP2

The Android beta program gives us a chance to see the latest features of Android, some of which don't actually work yet. That was the case when the first developer preview came out with an option to automatically switch WiFi on when you get near a trusted network. The toggle was non-functional in the first dev preview, but it works in DP2.

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Android O feature spotlight: VolumeShaper lets audio apps perform cross fades, fade-outs, and more

Android has a long and complicated history with audio output, but Google has been improving audio on Android with higher quality sound and lower latency. In Android O, developers will have a new tool to perform audio transitions and effects.

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Graphics drivers can be updated from the Play Store in Android O

A pretty nifty new feature was talked about at last night's Android Fireside Chat. In addition to the other O features and the rest of the announcements at I/O, it was revealed that we'll soon be able to update our graphics drivers through the Play Store. This is a feature that is presumably only going to be present in O. There's no word yet on the specifics as to how that might work, or which OEMs or chipset manufacturers might be interested in taking advantage of it, but as of yesterday we know it's coming.

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