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Android O feature spotlight: Downloadable fonts will make APKs smaller, and fonts can now be XML resources

Google has definitely been focusing on space-saving and performance improvements with Android O, such as faster boot times and the leaner Android Go operating system. Fonts aren't quite as exciting, unless you like to spice up your reports and presentations with obscure typefaces. Regardless, Android O has a few improvements in store for developers wanting to use custom fonts in their applications.

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Android O feature spotlight: Google explains the new actionable battery menu

Google is focusing on battery life in Android O by clamping down on what apps can do in the background. At the same time, Android O includes a new battery settings menu that attempts to present your usage in a more understandable way. Instead of simply showing how much juice an app used, it puts battery use in the context of how you use the phone.

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Android O feature spotlight: Developer Preview 2 adds a Bluetooth AVRCP version selector

Bluetooth seems to be getting some improvements in Android O. When the first Developer Preview dropped, we saw that the OS will let you choose which Bluetooth codec, including aptX and aptX HD, to use when streaming audio wirelessly. In a similar vein, Developer Preview 2 now has an option for you to choose which AVRCP version to use, instead of just getting stuck with the default v1.4.

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Devs can now autosize TextViews

Google has been smoothing Android's rougher edges over the last few revisions, but there's one thing you interact with constantly that still needs some work: text. Until now, developers had to specify a text size, and that's all the text would be without third-party workarounds—even if that meant it was super-tiny or so big it overflowed. Now, they can create "autosizing TextViews" with Google's tools.

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Redesigned Pixel Launcher makes early appearance at Google I/O

A brand new Pixel Launcher UI has been spotted at Google I/O during a sandbox session on Instant Apps. We've not seen anything official about it yet, so it's either going to be debuted soon, or somebody messed up and it's not even a fully tested product. It seems the unreleased launcher was being used to demo new functionality relating to the now more widely available Instant Apps, which it can show in search results alongside those on the Play Store. Previously, the launcher could only display apps already installed on your device.

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Android O feature spotlight: More natural movement with physics-based animations

Animations in apps can often be jerky or unrealistic, but in Android O Google plans to give developers tools to make animations buttery smooth and natural with the power of physics. It should also be much simpler to make animations with this system.

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MediaTek launches a new chipset for Google Assistant and Android Things

MediaTek has just announced a new chipset for two of Google's favorite recent projects: Google Assistant and Android Things. The descriptively named MT8516 is a 64-bit ARM platform that includes wireless radios and is designed specifically for voice assistants applications. It looks like Google has one more hardware partner behind Intel and Qualcomm for its future IoT plans.

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The emoji support library in Android O means your phone won't need OS updates for new emoji anymore

One of the more annoying aspects of owning a smartphone on a not fully-updated version of Android can be emoji. Not how they look, but which ones your device supports. If you're running an older OS version, you probably don't have the latest Unicode revision of the emoji character library, and that can lead to the infamous blank square issue.

With Android O, Google is going to solve this problem, even if in a less-than-ideal way.

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Android O feature spotlight: Night Light gets a slider to control how intense you want it to be

Night Light made its formal debut on Android 7.1 Nougat not long ago, but that doesn't mean that it can't be improved upon. The second Android O developer preview has added a slider that allows you to control the intensity of Night Light, just in case you found the default to be too yellow.

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[Update: Factory images and OTA files] Android beta registration is back, O Dev Preview 2 rolling out now

The beta program is now live! Cruise on over here to check it out, if you'd like to register for the program. Only a few Nexus and Pixel devices are compatible with the service, but now you can whet your Android O whistle in a slightly more stable way.

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