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Android O

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Customize your navigation bar on Nougat without waiting for Android O with... Custom Navigation Bar

Can't wait for Android O? Neither can we, but you can at least make use of one feature a little early if you've got a mostly stock Nougat phone. The good people at XDA found that navigation bar customization was present in Nougat, and you can even use it without root. One enterprising developer has already pushed an app called Custom Navigation Bar that can make the necessary modifications.

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Android O feature spotlight: Apps can no longer draw on top of system UI

Android has long allowed developers to draw on top of other apps and the system UI. This is how Twilight adjusts the color of the display, and there are other apps that overlay things on your status bar. A change to the way Android O handles overlays could break features of these apps, rendering some of them essentially useless.

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Android O feature spotlight: Developers can specify timeouts for notifications

Some notifications are plain annoying. Fitbit keeps bugging me with how many steps I have to walk to overcome someone in a Workweek Hustle or who has just surpassed me in a Daily Showdown. Ebay wants to tell me that a watchlist item is nearing its end date. And the order of pharmacists in Lebanon app sends dozens of repetitive notifications to remind me of a certain conference happening on the night.

Some notifications are important to read regardless of how late you are to spot them, others like the ones I mentioned above are pointless after a certain time. For those notifications - and the developers who are kind and empathic enough to care about their users - Android O has one awesome feature: timeout.

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Android O feature spotlight: Automatically enable WiFi when you're near a saved network

It's important to take advantage of WiFi in this era of capped data plans, but what if you forget to turn your WiFi on? That might happen much less often in Android O. There's a feature (not currently active) that can turn WiFi on for you when you get near a saved network.

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[Update: Any notification can be compacted] Android O feature spotlight: Persistent notifications are more compact

I hate persistent notifications. I like dropping down my notification shade and seeing nothing there, otherwise I get very OCD and feel like there's something that requires my attention, but then I see there really isn't because it's just a persistent notification. Even if you don't mind these and even if these always get pushed to the bottom of the list, they can clutter up your notification drop-down and make it more difficult to manage.

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Android O feature spotlight: Android System is already using notification channels

There are some cool things you can play around with in the Android O preview, but some of the most useful features won't be available until developers start implementing them. For instance, the new notification channel feature. As it turns out, Google has already implemented notification channels in the Android System. That means you can get a feel for how it'll work.

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Here's how to enable Picture-in-Picture mode in Android O right now


Last year, Android 7.0 introduced picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, making it possible to shrink a playing video down to a floating window that appears above all other content, allowing users to continue watching a video while taking care of another task. Unfortunately, at the time PiP mode was only available for Android TVs, so very few people ever got to take advantage of it.

That changed with Android O, which has brought PiP mode to Android devices with screens much smaller than a television's, including phones and tablets. However, since Android O is so new and few developers have had the time and resources to update their apps, it's hard to find any app that actually supports PiP for now.

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[Update: 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: There's a cool new animation when opening or closing notifications

Android O was revealed last week, and Google talked about the neat stuff it can do via blog posts and videos. We didn't get all the little details—those nice touches that make you smile, realizing Google takes design seriously these days. Case in point, there's a rad new animation when you open and close the notification shade. Let's watch, shall we?

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Android O feature spotlight: There's now a progress bar for sideloading APKs

When installing apps from the Play Store, you can see a progress bar for the download. The actual installing part doesn't have any indicator at all in the Play Store app, and when installing from an APK, all you get is a pulsing progress bar. Android O has fixed this annoying problem, at least when installing from APKs.

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