If you pull down the status bar on your Google Pixel running Android 7.1, you'll see the time, day, date, and a settings quick access button in the status bar area. In the new Android O preview, things have been changed a bit. For one, we have a much cleaner font for the time and date information. But we also still see our connectivity statuses for Wi-Fi and mobile data, the current battery percentage (plugged in or unplugged), and the individual battery icon is gone (it now just toggles battery saver). Compare below - current Nougat on top, new O version on the bottom. Read More
Google's version of Android has historically been relatively light on features, but the Mountain View-based company has been rapidly closing that gap. Other implementations of Android have had multi-window for a while now, but that took until 7.0 Nougat to make its way onto stock Android. Now, we're getting another feature that we've seen on other skins: custom lockscreen shortcuts. Read More
While Android 7.0 already offered a pretty extensive rethink on Android's stock settings app, it appears Android O will go a step even further than that, overhauling the interface and navigation model extensively.
The first thing you'll notice is that Google is moving to an organizational approach much more like a smartphone manufacturer, organizing categories of settings at higher levels, resulting in a much shorter top-level settings list. It's half or less the size of the settings menu on the Pixel on the current Nougat beta - which should tell you how extensive a change this is. Read More
I cannot fault people for loving the theme support present in certain OEM and custom ROMs. The fact that Google has never implemented them in any sort of official way has been a frustration to many, but we did find something very interesting in the Android O preview. In the display settings, there is a section for "Device theme," which has two options. Hm... Read More
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
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
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. 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
As some had expected based on the timing of last year's Android N announcement, Android O was due sooner or later, and today's the big day: Meet Android O. Which, obviously, doesn't have a full name yet, and probably won't for a long time. So for now, just make up conspiracy theories about those concentric circles up there.
What does Android O do? When can you get it? We'll aim to answer all that in posts to come, and I'll give you the brief summary here.
First, when can you get it? Well, Google says Android O developer preview images should be available for flashing soon (they'll be here), but it's not clear when "soon" is, but we'd tend to assume based on last year that means today. Read More