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Android O

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[Update: Name likely Oreo] Google has an Android O event on August 21st to coincide with the eclipse

Today it has been revealed that Android O, the next major version of Google's operating system, will be "touching down" (and likely shown off) on August 21st at 2:40 PM ET via a livestreamed event from New York City. The wait is nearly over. In just a few more days those of us with supported devices might even be enjoying the latest and greatest release of Android. But at a minimum, we should know a lot more about it. 

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Android engineers reveal Google is working with 'some companies' to add Project Treble to existing devices

One of the big advancements in Android O will be support for the new Project Treble system framework. This modular approach to Android could accelerate the update process and ensure devices are supported for longer. However, we've been hearing that Treble would only work on new devices that ship with Android O. The exception to that being the 2016 Pixels. Google engineers revealed on a podcast today that some other devices could get Treble in an update, too.

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Developer Preview 5 of Android Things OS is out, now based on Android O

Android Things is a minimal version of Android, intended to power Internet of Things devices (like smart appliances). The first Developer Preview was released at the end of 2016, and new versions have come out steadily since then, most recently with Preview 4.1. Google has now released Developer Preview 5, with plenty of major changes and new features.

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Google Maps v9.59 beta adds Q&A section, Picture-in-Picture support, monthly driving stats, and more notification channels [APK Download]

A new update to Google Maps is rolling out to the beta channel members right now, and like so many previous releases, there are a few new features to check out. First, the Q&A feature from the last teardown of Maps is live. Drivers will soon be able to see a monthly report of their behavior right inside the app. If you're running an Android O developer preview, the first thing you can look forward to is the addition of Picture-in-Picture support. Also for Android O are a pair of new notification channels to get better control over navigation-specific information.

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Play Store v8.1 adds notification channels on Android O [APK Download]

A new version of the Google Play Store began rolling out earlier today with few, if any noticeable changes. However, if you're running the Android O previews on any devices, there will be one change to look forward to: Notification Channels. The latest version brings five distinct channels for customization, including: Security and Maintenance, Updated Apps, App Updates Available, Account Alerts, and High Priority. Now we can make a few more decisions about which notifications we want to see and if they matter more or less than the developers thought they should.

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Bluetooth battery level indicators could be coming to stock Android soon

Over the years, one of the most annoying feature omissions in stock Android has been a battery indicator for connected Bluetooth devices. There is a public standard for reporting battery life from (supported) Bluetooth devices, but stock Android just doesn't use it. A few OEMs have implemented it themselves in the last few years, like Samsung and LG, but not Google.

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[Update: Now on Google Play] Android O feature spotlight: The Google Clock app gets a makeover in v5.1

With each new version of Android, Google tends to make small tweaks to some of its default apps. Such changes are often nothing more than superficial, a way of giving the new OS release a fresh feel. We're now on the third Android O Developer Preview, and the official clock app has been treated to a visual refresh, its first meaningful update since February.

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Chrome on Android O will give each website its own notification channel

While this isn't live now in any version of Chrome from stable to Canary, work is underway to improve the way notifications through the app that originate from websites are handled on Android O by giving them individual channels.

Currently, with all Chrome versions (59 stable to 62 Canary), the app offers 5 different notification channels: Browser, Downloads, Incognito, Media, and Sites. These let you assign different importance levels and choose how each type of notification is handled by the system. But the "Sites" channel treats all websites equally, so you can't give a low importance to facebook.com and a high importance to some other site, or vice versa.

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Android O feature spotlight: Google's "grinning face with smiling eyes" emoji no longer looks constipated

Different types of emoji, trivial as they may seem, can manufacture lots of controversy. Just look at how many votes and comments our blobmoji vs O-moji poll generated, or the fact that it caused a Change.org petition to be created. However, I think we can all agree that the "grinning face with smiling eyes" emoji that Google used in the first three Android O developer previews looked pretty stupid; it didn't so much look like a grin as it did constipated. Thankfully, Android O DP4 has fixed this terrible issue.

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Android O feature spotlight: Text-to-speech has an experimental always-on language detection option

Google's Text-to-speech (TTS) is an accessibility feature that's long been a part of Android. It's a screen reader that can read aloud anything currently on display, a vital utility for users who are blind or partially-sighted. TTS isn't updated very often, but when it is it's usually to add something meaningful. The last update added support for new languages, as well as pronunciation and intonation improvements. We've now been made aware that there's also an experimental always-on language detection switch, available to those using Android O.

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